What's next once you're in public cloud?
Trends are showing that the adoption of Public Cloud is growing consistently year on year. Over the last few years we’ve seen increases of 6.1% in 2020 and 18.4% in 2021, all in a market that’s expected to be worth over $1 trillion by 2025. Cloud adoption strategies come in various forms, with some organisations choosing a tactical approach based on a particular business requirement such as remote working using DaaS (Desktop as a Service). Other organisations favour complete application modernisation to deliver rapid reductions in time to market and many still choose to migrate services en masse as part of a Public Cloud first initiative, decommissioning their Data Centres entirely.
One thing that is common, is that migrating to Cloud should be just the start of an organisations cloud transformation journey. Large numbers of organisations migrate their services into cloud, pat themselves on the back and focus solely on BAU activities, keeping the lights on and neglecting innovation, usually due to time pressures associated with BAU tasks.
To fully leverage the true benefits from Cloud platforms, organisations should aim to continually innovate, optimise and modernise their applications. Both in terms of the application architecture itself and how the applications are developed, deployed and managed.
Five ways to get the most out of your cloud investment:
Cloud modernisation can mean different things to difference organisations, based on their level of Cloud maturity. Often startups or 'born in the cloud' businesses already operate at a high-level of cloud maturity, loosely coupled with cloud native applications, proactively managed and running on microservicesas seen with businesses such as the Netflix or Uber.
In reality, many organisations have lifted and shifted (re-host on the 7R’s migration model) with minimal transformation. Once in Cloud, the 7Rs approach still applies and organisations should continually assess their applications and seek to modernise them. Can the application's Database be migrated to DBaaS, can a web application be migrated to AWS Elastic Beanstalk or Azure App Service. Similarly, can workloads be retired or repurchased as a bundled appliance from the marketplace. These are questions that should be continually asked to get the most value from your Cloud investment. AWS, Azure and GCP innovate at an incredible rate, launching new services and features regularly, customers need to constantly review these services and features, and modernise their applications to benefit from them.
Innovate one step at a time
In traditional modernisation programmes, business value isn’t usually delivered until the very last phases. Breaking down large, daunting modernisation programmes into smaller cycles or sprints, mitigates the risks associated with large waterfall style programmes. Tasks can be prioritised according to expected value, and can be continually evaluated and adjusted accordingly, so business value can be delivered sooner.
Pick one or two applications at a time and look at what modernisation opportunities are available. Are PaaS (Platform as a Service) services available to run the application, can the application be decoupled to allow portions of it to be run independently, are there event driven and automation opportunities. These gradual improvements will provide huge benefits over time.
Codify your infrastructure
Programmatical infrastructure is a common place, especially across Hyperscale Public Cloud platforms. However, IaC (Infrastructure as Code) is still an afterthought for many organisationsthat are often using vendor native IaC capability (such as AWS CloudFormation or Azure Resource Manager) in isolated use cases. Even for organisations that don't develop their own software, taking a more strategic CI/CD approach can deliver significant benefits, such as higher efficiency through automated processes, improved planning and reduced risk through the ability to quickly roll back changes to the application or infrastructure.
Organisation should also choose their IaC tools and platforms based on their Cloud strategy and objectives. For example, is there a requirement to orchestrate on-premises resources and Public Cloud resources in parallel, oris there a requirement for multi-cloud? If so, third party IaC tools such as Terraform or Ansible may be required.
The opportunities for automation in Cloud are vast, given that every service can be programmatically configured and monitored through an Application Programming Interface (API). Many organisations focus on Cloud orchestration not automation. If you’re wondering what these are, loud automation defines the deployment and management of tasks to be automated, whereas Cloud orchestration arranges and coordinates those defined tasks into a unified approach. For example, building some IaC to deploy a Virtual Machine (VM) and configure its network is orchestration, but having a VM deployed robotically when a ServiceNow request for it is approved, is automation. Automation is essential to DevOps success and increasing an organisations Cloud maturity.
Take an economic view
Many organisations struggle with cloud costs and 82% of them cite managing Cloud spend as their top Cloud challenge. Whilst having Cloud spend budgets, guardrails and savings plans in place is crucial, an accumulation of the principles above will also help drive efficiency and in turn reduce costs. While this isn’t as tangible as right sizing a VM or applying a savings plan to your Cloud account, they are equally important and provide real sustainable benefits for organisations in the long run. This in turn enables organisations to be more innovative, which increases market penetration and agility.