The benefits of migrating your EDI to the cloud are many, not just the following:
Economics – Reduced cost for hardware, maintenance, licensing, and other nagging costs, because the burden of ownership and upkeep is no longer yours from both a hardware and personnel resource standpoint. PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) takes this even further than IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) by providing dynamically scalable functionality in a pay-as-you-go fashion that is especially attractive for businesses that have highly cyclical volume. You will generally only pay for what you need when you need it.
Out of the box functionality – Features and connectors that allow you to build and protoype solutions rapidly to investigate “what-if” scenarios and/or viability of an idea or concept.
Redundancy and resiliency – Leaders in the cloud services space build multiple data centers within a region to complement the fault tolerance within each center and even extend that to geographic redundancy (at a premium). This ensures services are always available even in worst case scenarios; something only the largest enterprises can match or consider doing on their own.
There are, however, trade-offs and considerable effort involved in building a production ready solution. Whether you are performing a lift and move to IaaS or migrating to a processing model that utilizes all that the latest cloud-based PaaS architectures have to offer; the you need to consider:
Control of your environment – The more you take advantage of these advanced features and functionalities, the more control you relinquish relative to what happens and when. While providers do their utmost to manage change so that it minimizes disruption, stuff happens, and you are at the provider’s mercy until it is resolved. Geographic redundancy using “blue/green” instances of your environment, or multi-cloud environments using different providers can mitigate such potential issues, but they come with considerable additional cost and complexity. While not as drastic as on-prem solutions, the investment is not trivial.
Security – There are some myths concerning security and how using the cloud shifts some of the burden of this function to the provider. This is only true in a ‘global’ sense, and in fact because many PaaS features are essentially web services, the onus rests squarely on the user to ensure every endpoint is secure. It also rests on the user to make sure the appropriate features are enabled to properly isolate applications and/or services from intrusion.
Metered versus discretely billed features/functions – Many features on cloud platforms are billed by the hour and/or storage unit (metered), while others can be billed by execution or as a lump sum monthly. Having a good profile based on your actual use of the application under load is key in getting an accurate understanding of your cost. Calculators on provider web sites are generally an estimation at best, and they can be off by an order of magnitude if there is not real-world data and a solid understanding of your entire application ecosystem.
Design patterns – Having a good understanding of your problem space is crucial in developing and implementing an architecture that will serve not only your immediate needs but also your longer-term strategic vision. There will generally be more than one approach to achieve the results you are looking for given the wide array of features and capabilities at your disposal. Each has its pros and cons when viewed through the various lenses of performance, cost, flexibility, or other considerations that may be relevant to your specific use case.
With all of the benefits yet many complexities that come with migrating your on-prem EDI solution to the cloud, you may be wondering, “where do I start?” In our next installment, we will look at some answers to that question from both a do-it-yourself perspective as well as some of the potential benefits of using a solutions service provider.
About the Author
Frank Oriold is Kleinschmidt’s Executive Vice President, Operations and Business Development. Before coming to Kleinschmidt, Frank served in multiple IT leadership roles across a variety of industries including IT consulting, financial services, and more. You can learn more about Frank and the rest of the Kleinschmidt leadership team by visiting the Leadership page here.