In HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, the mythical seven kingdoms are preparing for winter brought on by a force of zombie-like creatures called “White Walkers.” The phrase “winter is coming” is repeated throughout the course of the series, foreshadowing perils that lie ahead.
With the changing seasons upon us, let’s consider what challenges are in store for enterprise cloud, and how to best prepare for the winter that is coming for software delivery and operations.
Papering over cloud washing
What many enterprises don’t understand about the cloud is it’s not just the data centre for the organisation; it’s an entirely new way of architecting, developing and delivering applications, and a new experience for developers, IT and customers.
Many organisations are using the cloud to “paper over” legacy applications and, in doing so, don’t truly modernise their apps or infrastructure to take full advantage of the benefits of the cloud. While these organisations might claim they are adopting the cloud, the same legacy apps, infrastructure, processes and ways of doing business are there.
This simply covers the cracks but does not address the root of the issues or future-proof. These monolithic applications are not efficient to operate and not easy to update and scale, so the cloud benefits and papering-over efforts are wasted. It’s time to sit down with architects to map out the ideal path to realising the benefits of becoming truly cloud-native. Work on an agile implementation plan to make sure cloud strategy is more than just a buzzword.
Cloud lock-in is not just in the infrastructure; it’s in the application code itself, due to the dependencies of the integrated services when developing for a specific public cloud environment.
Organisations adopting cloud computing often choose one of two strategic ways for implementing and building their cloud journeys. They may standardise on a specific public cloud and integrate its unique APIs, tools and related services. Alternatively, they may use open-source, cloud-native frameworks and tools that allow for the adoption of cloud architectures in a manner that is portable between environments, agnostic to any particular cloud provider and fundamentally more flexible.
With large enterprises reported to be managing nearly five different data centres — spanning both on-premise and public cloud infrastructure — the first approach can be problematic. It means the way the application is built and its tooling is tightly coupled with a cloud provider, and on-premise applications and infrastructure would need to be managed differently. The cloud should be an architecture and IT experience that consistently delivers — and on private data centres, too.
This creates technical debt and a problem with future-proofing the application to whatever new technology, innovation or infrastructure preferences may come. So, be mindful of how the cloud is adopted, and try to ensure interoperability and decoupling between the application and the APIs or infrastructure it is running on. What is chosen today may not necessarily make sense for the business years from now.
Cloud cost is out of control
When it comes to the cloud, many organisations don’t realise how expensive the transition can be. More than half (53 per cent) of those surveyed by 451 Research cited cost/budget as a key IT pain point. Going back to issue one, washing over legacy applications makes it hard to determine how expensive it will be to fix issues in the long run. Furthermore, the cloud can be an unforgiving place for an application that is not resource-efficient. Monolithic applications that weren’t built to take advantage of cloud constructs can eat up resources at unexpectedly high rates.
In year one of cloud adoption, the migration is oftentimes the most expensive cost, but as organisations move into years two and three, they may find their cloud costs are more expensive than anticipated.
One way of reining in costs is to ensure interoperability and portability, so the optimal provider can always be used, without having to re-code an application. This allows organisations to leverage existing infrastructure and the investment made in on-premise data centres to deliver the same cloud experience as that of the public cloud.
Modernisation of data centres
With many organisations deep into the discussion of cloud adoption and migration, many forget an important step: modernising their day-to-day environments, which are often on-premise. Unaddressed architectural issues in applications can incur massive costs, and without a modernised data centre, there is no recourse.
Modernising an existing data centre environment gives enterprises more runway to test and incrementally validate their cloud migration strategy. Not modernising the data centre environment could backfire in terms of being exposed when it comes to the on-premise data centre and public cloud.
Ready for the edge?
The edge is increasingly important, and it means different things to different businesses: For the automotive industry, it may mean the growing importance of compute capacity in smart cars. For retail, it might mean new kinds of compute capacity available at point-of-sale systems and new experiences being delivered to customers in storefronts.
For example, Chick-fil-A recently shared it was running Kubernetes, a modern technology that’s a key enabler for cloud-native applications, in every restaurant. This is a great example of using a powerful cloud-computing technology to deliver new experiences. If an organisation is too focused on the traditional data centre or cloud, these edge experiences can suffer.
One way to prepare and enable edge computing is to standardise on Kubernetes as the operating system for new cloud-native, modern applications that can run in the connected cloud and even on edge, air-gapped environments.
Winter is coming for enterprise cloud, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be weathered. It can be a balancing act to move quickly and stay competitive while preparing for the road ahead.
By thinking proactively about IT strategies, especially for cloud adoption, applications can be built and positioned for sustainable success. Enterprises should use these five common problems and solutions to help shape their cloud journey to remain competitive and mitigate the risk of revenue freeze.
Sirish Raghuram, CEO and co-founder, Platform9
Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock