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Automated versus manual tools for cloud migration

Automated versus manual tools for cloud migration

Back in 2010 most specialists thought of cloud computing mostly as “capacity on demand” with the benefit of not having to deal with infrastructure and scalability issues. Today this is just one of the countless benefits that cloud computing offers. However, the data migration to the cloud, a much disputed topic back in the days, is becoming more complex now because of the increased number of platforms, technologies and vendors. Not all applications are suitable for a cloud-based deployment and there are significant incompatibilities between applications and different cloud providers’ offerings.
Basically, the migration process is not eliminating management and automation responsibilities but is increasing them.

Because the key to successful cloud utilization lays in the management and automation tools’ capability to provide visibility into ongoing capacity, this subject needs our full attention. Which are the most reliable tools for cloud migration? Automated or manual tools?  Which one will lead to a real return on investment?

First of all I think that manual tools are no longer viable in terms of costs and speed. Adding staff to the project team to manually asses, fix and convert application for the virtual cloud platform can entail huge costs whether the company chooses to outsourcing, off-shoring or hiring internally, not to mention the growing skills gap in this industry. Moreover now that we have many choices on virtualization technology it’s possible that companies will have to double or triple the amount of time and resources they allocate for manual application testing and remediation.

Instead the organization should choose automated application compatibility testing and fixing, since the time for testing and remediation remains the same no matter how many virtual platforms are involved. So, efficiency is the primary benefits and productivity will be higher as well. I also agree with Teresa Lanowitz in the article Automated tools essential when deploying apps to the cloud who considers that automating application deployment also improves overall software quality: “Using good tools across the entire lifecycle, and that includes deployment, minimizes the amount of human intervention that we actually have; the time we depend on some person doing something manually. When you can remove that, your quality becomes more predictable, it becomes better,” she says.

In reality I know that manual testing is still dominant and automated deployment tools are not yet considered a necessity. I believe that this approach is changing and must be changed by organizations planning carefully their movement to the cloud with a keen focus on the tools that will manage applications in the cloud. In the meantime cloud providers will catch up with more investments in cloud infrastructure automation tools and support. Also, executives need to keep in mind that the objective is to implement tools that provide proactive and predictive management capabilities, the only possible way to determine a real return on investment.

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