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In the early days of the cloud, the assumption was that any opportunity surrounding the migration of applications would involve moving them from on-premise environments into the cloud. However, as cloud computing has matured, it turns out that there is just as much, and perhaps even more, interest in moving applications not only between clouds but also out of them.

The primary reason for this is that the most widely adopted use case for cloud computing has turned out to be application development. Rather than invest millions of dollars in IT infrastructure to build applications that may never be widely adopted, organizations of all sizes now routinely make use of public cloud computing services to develop applications.

However, just because an application was developed in the cloud does not mean it will stay there. In fact, because of compliance and security concerns, many organizations opt to move applications originally developed in a public cloud either back to a private cloud running on-premise or a cloud service provider that they perceive to be better suited to run that application in a production environment because of cost, performance or security reasons.

Whatever the scenario, migrating applications in and out of the cloud are starting to shape up as a major opportunity for solution providers across the channel. A recent survey of 1,700 organizations conduced by 451 Research on behalf of Microsoft, for example, found that 52% plan to migrate applications running on a public cloud on to a private cloud in the next year.

Similarly, a survey of 400 business and IT executives conducted by CompTIA found that 44 percent have moved applications and infrastructure between public clouds.

This willingness to move applications and infrastructure between clouds is critical for smaller cloud service providers to compete against the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft.

Customers opt for smaller cloud service providers for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is the actual physical location of the data center, said Dave Shacochis, vice president of cloud platform at CenturyLink.

“Geography is a factor because of globalization,” Shacochis said. “Cloud applications need to be very portable.”

In fact, developers of cloud applications now use software templates to describe the underlying IT infrastructure that an application runs on to make it simpler to move that application whenever necessary, Shacochis said. The end result, he added, is that hybrid cloud computing is rapidly becoming the default approach to managing modern enterprise IT environments.

Adam Famularo, vice president of global channels for Verizon, said all this movement in the cloud is creating opportunities for solution providers on multiple levels. In addition, to moving applications between clouds, there is increased demand for Verizon Secure Cloud Interconnect, which enables organizations to set up secure private networks between multiple cloud service providers, Famularo said.

“We see partners and customers taking a more holistic approach to the cloud,” Famularo said. “That creates a need to connect to multiple clouds.”

For solution providers such as Evotek, the bigger opportunity that might emerge from all this migration may very well wind up being distributed data management. As applications continue to move about the cloud, EvoTek CTO Ned Engelke said, the complexity associated with managing data across multiple instances of cloud applications increases exponentially.