Dumping Legacy Code and Hardware Chores
Cost will get a company into the cloud-computing arena, Swartz says, but convenience and reliability are what will keep Preferred Hotels in it, at least. Being able to rely on Terremark to maintain the hardware is a big step. Being able to call up a configuration screen in a Web browser to raise or lower the amount of processing power, memory and disk space each virtual server gets lets Swartz tune performance as much as necessary, to keep his users happy.
The company uses Citrix software to virtualize its desktop applications onto Terremark's servers, so performance tuning can be a big deal. Putting Citrix on top of virtualized servers drags performance down a certain degree, because every request from the application has to go through two layers of control software to get to the processors. To compensate, Swartz increased the number of Citrix servers from five to seven when he set up the Terremark deal. So far, there have been few problems, he says.
All the company's standard commercial applications have run fine during the two months Preferred has been testing the cloud-based system. Now the company is gradually shifting all its homegrown legacy applications over to the new servers, even as it works on a Microsoft CRM implementation that will replace much of the legacy code, Swartz says.
That won't happen until sometime next year. Until then, there are two more months of testing one function after another of the legacy apps, to make sure they behave while running on virtual servers on a cloud far from the environment in which they were originally conceived.
"We hope to have everything fully tested and make the switchover by the end of the year," Swartz says. The company's production servers still live at its old co-location facility and the shiny new cloud system is mostly for backup. "Right now we're paying twice; once for the colo and once for the cloud, so we're eager to cut that out as soon as possible," Swartz says.