The Cloud. Up in the sky. Other people’s computers.
Disregarding how you view the Cloud one thing is for sure: There is more to come.
Some companies employ a cloud strategy to save money, some because it supports their digitalisation agenda and others because of technical reasons.
No matter why you wish to place your data or application in the Cloud it is important that the process of doing so is coordinated. In the following Netic provides you with four steps to ensure the success of your cloud project.
Most cloud projects start with an idea or a wish.
An idea you wish to explore and in which the Cloud at some point takes up a part in design and implementation. Or a wish from a customer – or internally to the organisation – to make things cheaper, easier or smarter.
This is why the process starts with exploring the needs and requirements and for this purpose a cloud model should to be developed. This cloud model should at least contain the elements below:
- Application Assessment
Governance includes policies and regulations concerning the application and its data. How is it managed? How is it documented? How is data leak handled?
Application Assessment is an evaluation of the application and its relationship with implementation and operations in the Cloud. If the application at this point is not developed, you need to make appropriate choices concerning architecture in order to ensure a cloud native application. If the application is already operating – or close to – there might need to be made a number of changes or updates before the application is placed in the Cloud.
Architecture is essential. Not just the architecture of the application itself, but especially the choices concerning the most optimal return of the cloud platform chosen; choices which ultimately secure a good experience among the users of the application and a sound economy.
At this point it might seem too soon to include design & implementation in the cloud model. However, it is important to be aware that this stage will eventually appear and that the choices made now will influence the future of the application.
A thorough and well-considered cloud architecture is the difference between cloud-enabled and cloud-native. Read more about this in the "Lift & Shift"-section below.
When the infrastructure takes the form of a software platform the level of agility changes and this will eventually transform the way IT-departments work.
However, this change also causes challenges because even though it is possible to both develop and operate on this software platform with processes designed to work on physical infrastructure this rarely provides the best results.
This is why your company should design a cloud-enablement strategy with respect to the themes and strategies already agreed upon in the IT-department. This strategy will make it easier for you to identify the operational steps and prioritise them.
I can almost hear you say: “What is this cloud strategy then supposed to contain?”. This is a good question. In an article from February 2018 Gartner suggests that the strategy should address five main questions:
- Where and how should our organization consume cloud computing services?
- How will we access, secure, govern, integrate and manage governance across hybrid environments?
- How does cloud computing factor into our application strategy and architecture?
- How should our existing data center and infrastructure approaches and technologies change?
- Where will our company become a cloud computing service provider to others?
3. Design & Implementation
Strategy and planning always comes first but at some point the application has to be implemented or migrated. In other words, it is time to implement your application.
If you did a good job on step one and two you already have the elements you need in order to design and do the migration or implementation. If not, these are the elements we recommend you consider:
Application optimisation or refactoring (rewriting)
Is your application ready to be placed in the Cloud or should it be optimised beforehand? Maybe the code has to be rewritten in order for the migration to succeed? Please consider these questions.
If you are currently developing the application this is not an issue. Though, a cloud focused design is always a good basis and should be considered.
Infrastructure and security
How is the application linked to your general infrastructure? Are you planning on placing it in a hybrid environment, where workloads are moved from your own or a hosted data center to the Cloud and back?
How about security? Is GDPR and governance incorporated? Should you modify your firewall regulations and access lists?
This is just a few questions your infrastructure team may want to ask before the application is migrated. There are more for sure. Talk to your teams working on infrastructure and security – or to a qualified cloud consultant to ensure that all elements are considered.
Migration or Lift & Shift
We haven’t really discussed this yet, but there is in fact a way to quickly place applications in the Cloud. It is called “Lift & Shift”.
When employing Lift & Shift the application is moved more or less 1:1 to a virtual server in Public Cloud. Of course, there are still things you need to consider. Firewall regulations and access lists, for instance. Servers may need to be informed where the application has been placed.
It is a rather common way to quickly place the application in the Cloud. Though, we often experience that the action stops here: The application is now cloud based so then everything must be fine. There is nothing wrong with this perception per se but when employing Lift & Shift you make use of less than 10 % of some of the most important features of Public Cloud: Micro-services, Platform as a Service and "true" cloud computing - the processes that increase the efficiency and decrease the operating costs.
With that being said, Lift & Shift is in many cases a sufficient stopover while the application cloud-enables.
Practice and qualifications
The final element of implementation you should consider is qualifications.
This element ties up with the fourth step in your overall project plan – namely future operations. Which qualifications does your company need for your cloud journey to be successful? Do the employees have the qualifications needed? Or at least some of them, which may serve as a basis?
You may learn that it is necessary to take on a supplier either to coach the employees or to actually manage the operations. In short: Resources and qualifications.
4. Management & Operations
During the years, we, at Netic, have come across a lot of software projects. Common for most of these projects is that the operation stage has not been considered during the development stage.
It is a fact that the operation stage will appear eventually – and software in Public Cloud is no exception. The application needs to be monitored and you have to consider incident management, patches and changes and much more. Standard operations.
Capacity Planning, Observability and Cost Optimisation are three highly critical concerns when it comes to future operations of your application in Public Cloud.
Traditionally, capacity planning has been a specialised IT discipline where you, based on events such as hardware changes or changes in an application, adjust your capacity plan.
As to the Cloud, infrastructure is somewhat a vague entity. It delivers business services on demand and when no longer needed it returns resources to the dynamic pool. This is the reason why capacity planning should be based on business Key Performance Indicators (KPI) rather than IT specific events.
In the world of operations, it has always been a good idea to have a thorough knowledge of your systems. In Public Cloud full transparency of your application and its dependencies is crucial.
This is due mainly to the reason that cloud-computing has in fact caused a higher level of complexity because applications placed in the Cloud oftentimes are distributed and may have dependencies more places and perhaps at other cloud vendors.
This makes insight into how the application is running critical.
One of the great advantages of Public Cloud is that it works accordingly to a Pay-as-You-Go model meaning that your costs scale according to your usage.
Of course, this is an advantage. Who would want to pay for extensive amounts of infrastructure, when they don't need it? In this way you are not subject to a rigid price structure.
However, if you don't know how your resource usage will develop it may be more difficult to plan your infrastructure costs.
If you are thinking about placing some or all of your applications in Public Cloud, please contact us for an informal conversation about your options.
Find more information at https://www.netic.dk/en/services/netic-cloud-operations/