Why do companies put mission-critical apps in the Cloud?

In recent years, a majority of companies have transitioned their mission-critical applications to the cloud. According to a report by the Cloud Foundry Foundation, this shift is driven by the ongoing process of digital transformation, viewed not as a one-time fix but as a continuous cycle of adaptation.

Digital transformation is increasingly seen as an iterative journey. The report highlights that 74% of respondents associate digital transformation with “perpetual shifts and constant adaptation of new technology,” whereas only 26% view it as a “one-time change and adoption of new technology.” This perspective is shared by over three-quarters of IT decision-makers, with 86% of CIOs, CTOs, and Line of Business leaders in agreement.

Cloud technologies such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), containers, and serverless computing are becoming mainstream.

Let’s tale a look at the key findings from the report:

  • Multi-platform strategy is flourishing: Almost half of respondents (48 percent) report using a combination of PaaS, containers and serverless technologies together—an increase of nine percent from last year’s multi-platform report. There are increases across the board in companies using a combination of all three technologies in various iterations, with 72 percent using PaaS and containers together (+8%), 50 percent using PaaS and serverless together (+7%), and 49 percent using containers and serverless together (+7%).
  • Container usage widens: Among companies using or evaluating containers, there has been substantial growth in the number of containers used. Organizations using 100 or more containers has grown from 34 percent in April 2018 to 48 percent in February 2019. Among the IT decision makers surveyed, 62 percent report they expect containers to be mainstreamed at their organization within a year.
  • Serverless evaluation slows, but there is broader deployment among users: While there was a slight pull back in overall usage and evaluation since September, for those using and evaluating serverless, broad deployment doubled since last year—increasing from 9% to 18%.
  • Timeline to see digital transformation vary by region: North American companies are largely feeling the benefit of digital transformation or expect to in this quarter (49%), though slightly more than a third (34%) don’t expect to see benefits for a year or more. Conversely, a third of organizations in Asia expect to see benefits later this year while only 24% expect it to take over a year. More than half of European companies (56%) already feel the benefit or expect to this quarter, while a small percentage (19%) expect to feel the benefits within the year.

To receive a copy of the report, go here.

Understanding Mission-Critical Applications

Mission-critical applications are essential software programs whose continuous operation is vital for business success. Downtime of these applications can result in significant financial losses, reduced productivity, and reputational damage. Examples vary by industry but generally include systems that are fundamental to operations.

  • Backup and Recovery: This is essential for data restoration and maintaining business continuity. Having robust backup and recovery procedures ensures that a company can quickly bounce back from data loss incidents.
  • Data Management and Analytics: Critical for handling the vast amounts of data generated, these applications ensure informed decision-making. Proper data management and analytics capabilities are central to day-to-day operations and strategic planning.
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): VDI supports remote access to corporate applications, which is crucial for maintaining worker productivity, especially in a landscape increasingly defined by remote work.
  • High-Performance Computing (HPC): Necessary for intensive workloads, HPC applications are pivotal in industries like aerospace and automotive, driving major technological breakthroughs and innovation.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Integral for managing production and distribution processes, ERP systems like those based on SAP manage almost every aspect of a company’s operations, from supply chain management to financials.

Benefits and Risks of Cloud Migration

Migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud offers significant benefits, including scalability and flexibility, which allow companies to leverage more resources cost-effectively. The cloud can support rapid scaling to meet business demands, offering a competitive edge.

However, the migration process involves substantial risks, particularly related to security and compliance. Mission-critical applications often deal with sensitive data and operations that must comply with various regulatory standards. Security concerns are paramount, as these applications are attractive targets for cybercriminals.

Successful migration requires thorough planning and addressing these challenges upfront. This includes conducting detailed risk assessments, developing robust security protocols, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations. By investing time and resources in careful planning, companies can mitigate risks and fully realize the benefits of cloud migration for their mission-critical applications.

Security Concerns

The migration of mission-critical applications to the cloud is accompanied by significant security concerns. Over half of technology leaders identify multiple security issues, including increasing cybersecurity risks, sophisticated cybercriminals, and a broader threat surface.

Ensuring the security of these applications in the cloud involves several critical steps.

  • Choosing the Right Applications: It starts with identifying truly critical applications and prioritizing their security and recovery. Knowing which applications are essential to operations allows for a more focused and effective security strategy.
  • Planning Security Measures: Detailed planning is essential, including establishing usage policies, backup and recovery plans, and failover mechanisms. These measures ensure that applications can quickly recover and continue to function in the event of a disruption.
  • Implementing Secure Access: Security is enhanced by rotating credentials regularly, isolating sessions to prevent unauthorized access, and auditing privileged activities. These practices help to mitigate the risk of credential theft and ensure that only authorized users can access critical systems.
  • Minimizing Risks: Reducing risks involves using anti-malware tools, restricting administrator privileges to minimize potential vulnerabilities, and providing comprehensive security training to staff. Educating employees on recognizing and responding to security threats is vital for maintaining a robust security posture.

Key Considerations for Cloud Migration

When migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud, several considerations are crucial.

  • Zero Downtime: Ensuring uninterrupted availability and accessibility is paramount. The focus should be on resilience and minimizing downtime to maintain consistent operations.
  • Performance Management: Ensuring the cloud-based application has the necessary scalability to meet evolving business demands and desired service level agreements (SLAs) is essential for maintaining performance standards.
  • Cloud Service Matching: Selecting cloud services that deliver the required uptime, latency, bandwidth, and throughput guarantees is vital. This ensures the chosen cloud provider meets the specific needs of the mission-critical application.
  • Deployment and Testing Strategies: Implementing effective rollback mechanisms and reliable testing strategies is necessary to handle failed deployments and ensure the application performs as expected once deployed in the cloud.
  • Cost Management: Developing policies to control cloud costs is important to prevent expenses from spiraling out of control. These policies guide the application’s users in managing and optimizing cloud resources.
  • Disaster Recovery: Having a disaster recovery plan and regularly testing it ensures that the organization can quickly restore operations in the event of a disaster, minimizing the impact on business continuity.

Eight Tactical Elements for Success

To ensure reliability, efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, organizations should consider the following tactical elements.

  • Cloud-Agnostic Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Using tools like Terraform to develop scripts that can target any cloud provider offers flexibility and reduces the risk of a single point of failure. This approach allows diversification across multiple providers and adapts to changing requirements.
  • Build Automation: Tools like Apache Maven and Gradle automate the build process, including compiling code, packaging binaries, and running tests. This reduces errors and enhances migration efficiency by automating repetitive tasks.
  • CI/CD Platforms: Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) platforms automate the building, testing, and deployment of application code and infrastructure configurations. Tools like Jenkins and AWS CodePipeline help reduce downtime and disruptions, enabling faster and safer deployments.
  • Code Quality Tools: Tools like SonarQube ensure that code meets quality thresholds by identifying and addressing defects early in the development process. This prevents security breaches and compliance violations, maintaining high code quality.
  • Configuration Management: Tools like Ansible, Chef, and Puppet ensure consistent server configurations and facilitate auditing by tracking changes over time. This makes it easier to manage and repeat deployments across multiple servers.
  • Logging, Monitoring, and Alert Platforms: Tools like Splunk and SumoLogic enable continuous monitoring of application performance and infrastructure health, delivering alerts when anomalies are detected. These platforms help identify and resolve issues before they cause significant disruptions.
  • Observability Platforms: Platforms like Grafana, Dynatrace, and AppDynamics provide comprehensive views of cloud environments by collecting and analyzing data from various sources. This allows for quick response to issues and helps prevent future errors.
  • Performance and Disaster Recovery Testing: Platforms like SOASTA Cloud Test and BlazeMeter ensure that applications meet performance and recoverability requirements by testing under various load conditions. Regular testing improves reliability and reduces the risk of outages, ensuring the application can withstand different scenarios.


Cloud-based services have evolved from simple storage solutions to integral components of a company’s infrastructure, supporting mission-critical applications. While security concerns persist, advancements in cloud technology and meticulous planning enable organizations to successfully migrate these applications. By leveraging cloud capabilities, companies can enhance their competitiveness and adaptability, particularly through advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning. Using frameworks like the AWS Well-Architected Framework, along with tactical measures, organizations can achieve long-term success in the cloud.