Don’t get fooled by fake cloud applications
Tue 19 May 2020 | Mehdi Fassaie
Not all cloud apps are created equal, says Mehdi Fassaie, Founder & CTO at Fluent Commerce
The phenomenal growth of cloud computing has enabled companies in every industry sector to take advantage of this transformative technology to improve the customer experience, increase productivity, lower cost, reduce IT overheads, and introduce new business models.
Today’s cloud-native applications offer a number of advantages over traditional, hosted solutions – on demand scalability, resiliency, and robust disaster recovery to name but a few.
Specifically designed, developed and deployed for cloud environments, truly cloud-native applications have architectures that are orchestrated using microservices and best in-class technologies to deliver unprecedented flexibility across the underlying infrastructure – and the application itself. Plus, these multi-tenant environments maximise resource usage optimally and automate maintenance.
However, many traditional software vendors are now adopting the language of cloud and trying to make their solutions look like cloud offerings, without investing in the actual building blocks needed to power a true cloud-native experience.
As a result, organisations need to know how to distinguish a real cloud from a fake product that’s offered via the web. Because not all clouds are created equal.
Fake cloud platforms – what’s the difference?
On closer investigation, many applications that claim to be ‘true cloud’ are simply cloud-hosted on-premise software that is deployed on dedicated servers and managed by a service provider under a cloud hood. Designed for on-premise environments and architected using legacy approaches, these cloud platforms have some significant technical limitations.
In addition to not being truly scalable, they don’t offer open APIs – which means upgrade and patch cycles will be complex, time consuming and will require downtime to execute. Furthermore, because these platforms have to be pre-scaled to support peak volumes, the overheads for businesses when they are not operating at peak all adds up to a further operational cost burden.
But that’s not all. The highly monolithic architecture and deep customisations of these cloud platforms often results in vendor lock-in scenarios that significantly limit the ability of IT departments to innovate or implement value-add applications that meet the changing needs of business.
The rise and rise of fake cloud platforms
In a bid to seize the cloud opportunity, many traditional software vendors have been scrambling to completely re-architect their applications for a cloud environment. However, this takes a considerable amount of time, money, specialist skills and involves employing new ways of thinking to create feature-rich cloud-native applications.
In the interim, to address the needs of clients with complex needs these cloud pretenders have taken the decision to sell their on-premise applications as a hosted solution. So, while they might be purporting to offer ‘true cloud’, in reality, they’re just providing a cloud-based managed software service.
At its core, the software they’re claiming is ‘cloud’ is still an on-premise solution. One which, because it was never designed for elastic cloud scalability, has higher associated hardware costs. And, since it hasn’t been structured to perform platform updates without a complete reimplementation, organisations won’t benefit from new products as these are released – as is the case with a cloud-native solution.
The cloud-native advantage – speed, scale and margin
Built from the ground up for the cloud, cloud-native applications can scale up on-demand without pre-configuration or notice or limitation, scaling down again automatically off-peak to reduce costs and total cost of ownership.
Because they are multi-tenanted applications, organisations will also reap the cost benefits of utilising a shared infrastructure. Similarly, from a bottom-line perspective, with a cloud-native platform there’s no need to continually pay for version changes, patches and new features.
In other words, there’s no painstakingly slow update process – customers are always automatically on the most current version and have instantaneous access to the latest upgrades and functionality. Plus there’s no need to constantly re-implement any customisations or integrations that were previously in place every time a new product version comes out.
In today’s fast-paced evolving markets, cloud-native platforms empower organisations with the flexibility that’s needed to change and iterate much faster compared to traditional and legacy platforms, which are limited in their ability to support customisation or maintenance services within business-critical time frames.
Buyer beware – always ask the right questions
Today’s true-cloud products are compelling solutions that make it easier for companies to innovate at speed and delivery new functionality faster. However, the growing popularity of cloud means that many software vendors are promoting legacy products that are merely masquerading as cloud platforms.
Those organisations that don’t ask the right questions before they buy could unwittingly find themselves investing in a fake cloud technology that will have long term ramifications for the business.