Be Deliberate in Your Approach to Cloud Computing
If there was no intentional walks, the guy would just walk him anyway, unintentionally intentionally walk him. You see a lot more of that than what meets the eye. -George Brett
I often write about how I believe businesses can be transformed using the cloud, and that doing so is a Journey that takes time. While every enterprise Journey will be unique, the ones I’ve seen transform the fastest are deliberate and methodical in their approach. This posts outlines some thoughts from one AWS’ Enterprise Solution Architects, Peter Buonora, on this topic. Without further ado…
As organizations of all sizes move toward cloud computing, we find that the organizations who take a deliberate approach create value faster than those that don’t. This means looking at how your solutions are planned and architected and breaking through misconceptions others in your company might have by establishing valuable first-hand experiences.
To save yourself a lot of back-and-forth on how the shift to cloud computing will happen in your company, here are a few steps you might take:
1.Analyze your people, process and talent base. Running a cloud environment and deploying applications in the cloud is different than on-premises. Those who get the most out of the cloud take an API-driven and automated approach that is hard to replicate on-premises. For example, adding 50 terabytes to your data center requires that you purchase trays of disks, coordinate the installation, align and calculate proper performance, and so on, versus making a single API call that specifies the performance characteristics required. Many companies are spinning up entire application environments using automation, turning them off when capacity is no longer needed, and only paying for the time it was utilized.
You also need to think about how you’re deploying your own talent: Do you want them spending time dealing with the heavy lifting of managing a data warehouse, or thinking of ways to differentiate the overall business and better serve your customers? The other part of this is empowering your existing talent to accelerate the move toward cloud computing by minimizing the fear, uncertainty and doubt within the organization. It may be surprising, but You Already Have the People You need to Succeed with the Cloud! You just need to tap into their desire for learning and curiosity by providing the right level of education and motivation to keep things moving forward.
2.Assess your attitude toward security. As good as your internal security may be, many CIOs are realizing that you can actually be more secure in a cloud environment because of the visibility you have across every service or infrastructure component you deploy. If something changes, such as a firewall or configuration, you will know who did it, when they did it, and be notified/respond accordingly. AWS offers the choice of holding your own encryption keys in a tamper-resistant piece of hardware in the cloud, in an on premise hardware security module called AWS Cloud HSM, or using a fully managed service called AWS Key Management Service (KMS).
I would add compliance to this picture as well: have you done all the things required for your infrastructure to be certified for HIPAA, PCI or other compliance frameworks? AWS goes through the all of the rigorous steps required for compliance of our services, greatly simplifying the process for customers by narrowing their scope and allowing them to focus on the application layers.
AWS has already achieved a number of internationally recognized certifications and accreditations, demonstrating compliance with 3rd party assurance frameworks, such as ISO27001, PCI 3.2, SOC 1, 2 & 3, HIPAA, FedRAMP at the Moderate level for Federal government systems, as well as Level 2 and 4 for DoD systems.
3.Determine the cloud maturity of your organization. This includes an understanding of how much you’ve done with cloud computing to date and how you might build an experience base quickly through training and experimenting with dev/test in the cloud.
It also includes updating people’s perceptions based on what’s been shared in your culture about cloud over the years. It’s important to actually sit down and go through the concerns, but also the goals you’re trying to accomplish and how you might do that with your current capabilities. These will provide a valuable foundation of experience that are part of Your Enterprises’ Flywheel to the Cloud. Take advantage of the ability to quickly test and iterate on new ideas within the organization that could lead to tremendous breakthroughs or business opportunities; Perfect for lean product development methodologies.
4.Be Well-Architected from the start. You may be facing an executive mandate to move as quickly as possible to the cloud and just lift and shift everything from existing data centers in an “as-is” fashion. While this typically will lead to operational cost savings, you may also want to consider how to optimize parts of your applications during the migration. Look for services that might be more cost effective than re-using all of the existing software from your current datacenter.
Overall, we look at four pillars to determine if an application is well architected and we have established the AWS Well Architected Framework as a reference for customers. These pillars are: Security, Reliability, Performance, and Cost Optimization. It is critical that this framework is properly established within your organization from the start. Get guidance and help from your AWS Solutions Architect, AWS Professional Services or our AWS partners to accelerate your migration and the use of this framework.
“Establishing and Empowering Your Cloud Team” will be covered in my next guest post as this is another critical step in providing the internal guidance needed to being well-architected on AWS.