Why is Application Mapping Important in Cloud Computing?

In the ever-changing world of cloud computing, organizations must keep their application maps current.

Application mapping helps companies plan to migrate their applications from on-premises environments to the cloud. Done right, it can give enterprises valuable insights into their IT environments, helping them identify potential issues, optimize performance, and streamline their operations.

Key Takeaways

Application mapping in cloud computing is an important process that helps organizations understand how their applications will fit into a cloud environment.

It also provides vital inputs for most stages of cloud migration and transformation planning, execution, and application modernization.

Application mapping also helps unveil potential shadow IT threats, data leaks, and compliance risks.

Why Application Mapping Matters

Put simply, application mapping is the process of taking an application inventory within an enterprise and then figuring out what platforms and services the applications should reside on within a public cloud, says David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“There are a few layers of management in the cloud, including the infrastructure and the application,” he says.

“Application management is incredibly important because we’re not just managing the platform that it’s running on, but we’re managing the application itself. This includes data, functions, application programming interfaces, security, governance, etc.”

Application mapping is a crucial process in cloud computing because it allows organizations to create visual representations of their application architectures, says Anant Adya, executive vice president for Infosys Cobalt, an enterprise cloud platform offered by Infosys Ltd.

“This visualization helps in understanding the intricate relationships between different components, such as servers, databases, and services,” he says.

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“By providing a comprehensive view, application mapping enables quicker adaptation to changing business needs and enhances overall agility.”

In addition, application mapping aids in optimizing IT operations by identifying potential bottlenecks, streamlining processes, and ensuring resource efficiency, according to Adya.

“Ultimately, application mapping contributes to the successful execution of digital transformation initiatives, fostering a proactive approach to preventing disruptions in the business ecosystem,” he adds.

Application Mapping Is Not Optional

Application mapping in cloud computing starts with a thorough inventory of all applications used within an organization, says Davit Asatryan, director of product at Spin.AI, a software-as-a-service security company.

He says:

“This is more than a mere listing; it’s a deep dive into the digital ecosystem of a business.

“By cataloging each application, you not only identify what’s in use but also unveil potential shadow IT threats, data leaks, and potential compliance risks. This inventory is foundational in understanding the application landscape – who’s using what and how data flows through these tools, revealing blind spots that might otherwise leave sensitive data exposed.”

Developers use application mapping to identify the requirements and dependencies of their applications, says Jagrat Maheshwari, technical lead at Cyntexa, a Salesforce and development consulting company.

“These dependencies might include the various components, software, and network requirements of that particular application and how they are interacting with each other,” he explains.

In an era where regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the US, set the benchmark for data protection, understanding how each application aligns with these requirements is not optional, he says.

“This alignment is a must-have in any application mapping strategy, ensuring that the organization’s cloud activities remain within the bounds of legal and regulatory frameworks,” Asatryan notes.

Puneet Kohli, president of application modernization at software development company Rocket Software, concurs.

Application mapping plays a pivotal role in this context by facilitating a comprehensive understanding of data flow as well as by aiding in risk mitigation and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, he says.

“This is essential for legal compliance and safeguarding the reputation of the business,” he adds.

Teams Need a Visual Roadmap of App Interconnections

Application mapping helps teams visualize how various parts of an application interact with each other as well as with an organization’s external systems and data infrastructures, says Kohli.

“This provides teams with a dynamic overview of their IT environment with the goal of improving optimization, security, and the speed in which users can troubleshoot performance issues, he says.

“Historically, this could be done manually, but it has increasingly become the standard to automate application mapping through specialized software.”

Application mapping is especially critical in cloud computing as data analysis and applications are increasingly run in cloud environments due to their capacity to harness emerging technologies, notably artificial intelligence (AI), ensuring agility and competitive adaptation, according to Kohli.

Additionally, utilizing open-source software further facilitates collaboration on cloud projects, simplifying and optimizing development efforts.

“With most organizations embracing hybrid cloud strategies, there is continuous migration of substantial data volumes between mainframes and the cloud,” Kohli says.

“In this dynamic environment, the ability to visualize the origin of data and its interrelationships becomes crucial for maintaining a robust data ecosystem.”

A Clear Guide to Moving to the Cloud

This visual roadmap not only outlines the interconnections between applications but also illuminates how they interact within the cloud infrastructure, says Sagy Kratu, senior product manager at Checkmarx, an application security testing company.

“Ultimately, this process empowers us to optimize performance, foresee potential issues, and ensure seamless functionality amid the dynamic and ever-expanding cloud landscape,” he says.

The importance of application mapping in cloud computing centers on three key aspects, according to Kratu.

First, in the tangled world of cloud setups, application mapping acts as a guide, offering a clear picture of how various software applications interact and rely on each other in this intricate system.

“Secondly, this visual aid helps us predict issues beforehand, fine-tune performance, and efficiently handle problems by understanding how applications link and interact with the underlying infrastructure,” he says.

Finally, having an updated application map becomes vital when unexpected challenges arise. That’s because it helps companies recover from disasters and maintain business continuity by enabling them to grasp how disruptions affect different parts of the cloud setup, Kratu adds.

“Essentially, application mapping is vital for navigating the complexities of cloud computing, aiding smart decision making, proactive management, and ensuring smooth application performance in this ever-evolving cloud environment,” he says.

The Bottom Line

Application mapping is the process of analyzing and documenting the attributes and interdependencies of software applications within an organization’s IT environment.

This includes such aspects as the applications’ functions, data flows, integration touchpoints with other systems, supporting infrastructure dependencies, and usage patterns, says Edlyn Callanto, a B2B marketing research specialist at UpCity, a company that helps connect businesses to service providers.

“In a nutshell, application mapping provides vital inputs for most stages of cloud migration and transformation planning, execution, and application modernization,” she says. “Keeping this mapping updated is important as applications and relationships evolve over time within the hybrid, multi-cloud enterprise.”

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Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area. She has more than 30 years of experience as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Linda has been writing about information technology since 1999. Her articles have appeared in MSDynamicsworld.com, TechTarget, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. Rosencrance was the editor of a technology news website and managed and edited a blog focused on data analytics. She also writes white papers, casestudies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients.