The Problem with Moving to the Cloud is Everything Works

I’ve had this customer for about 15 years and they are the perfect candidate to move to Windows Azure.

They are a small business.  Most of the employees are either on the road or working remotely.  Other than the few office workers, everyone is already accessing the data online. 

There’s no dedicated IT staff managing servers.  I’m pretty sure the backups would… well pretty sure.  Security is OK… I think.  I don’t think I’d call anything we do “patch management”, but somehow things are kept up to date.  Nothing we do is really “managed” (there’s a positive).

Our servers are old. When I look at all the dust I think, “Wow, those servers are old”.  So we have to spend some money soon.

We use a SQL Server for all of the data, and I know moving to SQL Azure will not be a big deal.  Compared to the cost of a new server, it’s a bargain.  Heck, the data would even be replicated.

A lot of our development is done in .NET, so for those programs migration would be easy. 

Of course, there is this thousand pound gorilla in the room – that’s the program the office staff uses.  It uses the SQL Server for the data, but the UI was originally written in Access version 2 back when I was a young programmer (let me pause to reminisce………..).  It has been migrated to every version of Access since.  Amazingly, it still works.  We know it has to be rewritten. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure you know what I mean.  The incredible thing is, even if we move to SQL Azure that old program will still work.  It’s just a different connection string. 

Once the data is in SQL Azure, the changes to the .NET applications will be trivial.

I know in the long run moving to SQL Azure for the database and Windows Azure for application deployment is the right thing to do.

Which brings me to our biggest barrier to moving to the cloud.  Everything works now.  We could spend a few thousand dollars on new servers and software and installation.  Keep backing up the data like we’re doing (it might work you never know).  And we’re done.  The cloud would be better, but what we have is familiar. 

We’re going to move to the cloud over time because the advantages vastly outweigh the costs.  But like most things that are worthwhile, it’s not a trivial process.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

If you’re also trying to figure out how to move to the cloud, come to Learning Tree course 2602: Windows® Azure™ Platform Introduction.  In the long run moving to the cloud offers simplified administration and cost savings.  But first you need a plan and you can’t create the plan if you don’t know how it works.

Doug Rehnstrom

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