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Effectively managing legacy healthcare apps can make or break a cloud transition

IT leaders hear the constant promise of cloud-induced IT transformation, but decisions surrounding the impact on legacy apps are critical to developing a cloud strategy that meets business goals while minimizing organizational risk.

Jeff Rowe | Oct 31, 2017 12:00 am

There’s no shortage of understandable claims being made about the “transformational” nature of moving to the cloud.  But one problem that might not get the attention it should revolves aroud the impact a cloud migration can have on an organization’s legacy apps.

Writing recently for TechTarget, Scott Lowe, a former CIO turned tech consultant, explained that while a common approach to moving legacy apps to the cloud is to base cloud implementation decisions on the needs of individual applications, the assessment of individual apps can't be done in a vacuum. “User and organizational needs must also be taken into consideration. For example, if you've moved a client-server application to the cloud without fully thinking through how users interact with the application, user angst will be high and productivity may suffer, which can put at risk future application migrations.”

The goal, he says, is to make application migration projects essentially invisible to users. Moving legacy apps to the cloud may be as simple as copying and pasting the existing application environment, or it may involve fully rebuilding the environment from the ground up at the cloud provider.

“If speed of deployment is your primary concern, copying local virtual machines to the cloud and restarting them at the provider will yield the best outcomes,” Lowe says, adding that legacy app migrations are often good opportunities to clean up, too, and “ensure that the application operating environment adheres to today's best practices.”

Where it makes sense, he advises, rebuild application services in the cloud rather than just copying them from the local environment, but budget and organizational goals will help determine if this step makes sense.

In the end, says Lowe, organizations should “consider keeping applications that are particularly mission-critical, sensitive, or that are highly regulated in-house,” noting that many stakeholders prefer to keep such services under local control as a part of a risk management strategy, though this, too, “is starting to change as cloud providers continue to deploy increasingly robust and secure environments.”