Cloud Enablement

Summary: We look at what businesses are suited to cloud enablement projects, the risks, challenges and benefits, and the future of microservices. We also outline how Optimation deliver Cloud Enablement projects.

Definition

Cloud enablement is the process of equipping an organisation with the knowledge, business strategy and process, organisational structure and people skills, to enable the business to successfully adopt cloud solutions.

Why Consider Using Cloud Enablement Services?

Business productivity benefits

Customers adopting cloud services are driving their businesses and making their employees more productive thanks to the agility, scalability, and improved performance they provide to business applications.

Risk mitigation – user productivity benefits

Customers benefit from the stability, reliability, and security of applications running in the cloud, which reduces downtime and increases confidence in IT’s ability to support operations and business.

IT staff productivity benefits

Customers are managing and maintaining applications more efficiently in their cloud environments by reducing the time needed for day-to-day support. Developing applications in the cloud is also simpler and faster thanks to pre-built modules and faster availability of compute resources.

IT infrastructure cost reductions

Cloud customers spend much less than they would to support the same workloads with their own data centre resources.

What Type Of Company Should Consider Undertaking A Project To Assess Their Cloud Readiness?

 Strong indicators include a desire to improve agility, scalability and reliability:

  • Companies embarking on a completely new system development, particularly where this is targeting a global market.
  • Companies with applications that have unpredictable and/or highly variable workloads.
  • Companies looking to adopt a DevOps approach to software development.

The Challenges of Cloud Technology

Probably the biggest challenge to any business looking to adopt cloud technologies is coping with the rate of innovation and change. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) alone has introduced over 500 new services and products in 2015. Take a look at Werner Vogel’s keynote speech from re:Invent 2015 for more detail.

Businesses need access to experienced qualified IT resources, who will ensure that their cloud adoption is built on technically sound foundations, using industry best practices.

Common Misconceptions about Cloud Computing

Cloud enablement initiatives must be able to respond to the common misconceptions about cloud computing, including:

  • “Cloud is all about cost reduction”
    While the majority of organisations adopting cloud service will realise measurable reductions in infrastructure costs, the real benefits are in enabling the business to better respond to new opportunities and improve productivity as a result of improvements in agility, scalability and performance.
  • “Security is inherently weaker in the cloud”
    Cloud computing is perceived as less secure, however the majority of cloud providers realise the reputational damage that would result from a major security breach and consequently invest significantly in security technology and personnel. In practice the opposing view may be more accurate, with public cloud providers offering a range of tools and services that enable higher levels of security protection to be designed in than could ever be engineered in the majority of on premise data centres. The example that lends greatest support for this view is the recent decision by the CIA to select AWS to build and run a special, secure cloud to be used by 17 intelligence-related agencies, in a contract valued at $600 million.
  • “Cloud should be used for everything”
    While there are systems whose characteristics make them a perfect fit for the cloud, for example those with highly variable and unpredictable workloads, it is wrong to assume “one size fits all”. Applications should be analysed on a case-by-case basis and only migrated to the cloud where there is a demonstrable business benefit.

What Are The Indicators That A Customer Would Benefit From Cloud Enablement Services?

Customers’ cloud related concerns that can be addressed as part of a Cloud Enablement engagement include:

  • “Are our applications ready to move to the cloud?”
  • “We know the applications we would like to move to the cloud, but have no agreed understanding about how we make the transition”
  • “We’re unsure whether a public/private/hybrid cloud would be the best fit for our business”
  • “Should we use a private cloud?”
  • “We have no real cloud strategy”
  • “Are we making the best of the latest capabilities on offer from our cloud provider?”
  • “We have no way to appreciate severity of change impact”
  • “We can’t be certain that we are managing our cloud costs efficiently?”

The Process Used By Optimation

Our process is built around the Optimation Cloud Enablement Framework (OCEF) which is customised for each individual customer.

OCEF is made up of 7 perspectives:

  • Business Perspective
  • Platform Perspective
  • Maturity Perspective
  • People Perspective
  • Process Perspective
  • Operations Perspective
  • Security Perspective

We take these into account when assessing a company’s existing processes and stakeholders, in order to make best-fit cloud services recommendations. Each of these perspectives is comprised of a number of contributories; for example business perspective encompasses IT strategy, whilst  Maturity Perspective considers  IT Management Assessment.

Optimation Cloud Enablement Framework figure 1

An initial scoping workshop identifies which elements are relevant to the customer’s starting position and desired outcome. e.g. the highlighted elements indicated below:

Optimation Cloud Enablement Framework figure 2

An individualised series of workshops is then used to develop the detail of the selected OCEF elements, as illustrated in the example below:

OECF Elements and Workshop

Examples of the deliverables which could result from such an engagement include:

  • Create a strategy for consumption and management of cloud services
  • Identify business owners
  • Create a cloud reference model
  • Assess data and privacy implications
  • Define future state architecture requirements
  • Identify candidate services in the cloud
  • Develop cost models
  • Select a public cloud vendor
  • Create transition plans
  • Relocation of processes, applications, data, technical services
  • Ensure security compliance
  • Ensure architecture is adopting new features, where beneficial, to optimise ongoing costs

The Future of Cloud Enablement

The future lays in microservices and serverless computing platforms.

Gall's Law: “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.”

New systems are increasingly being constructed from microservices: a software architecture style in which complex applications are composed of small, independent processes communicating with each other using language-agnostic APIs. These services are small, highly decoupled and focus on doing a small task, facilitating a modular approach to system-building.

Many of these services have been constructed using containers (technologies such as Docker) but the next step may be the ability to run code without a server or other associated infrastructure as piloted by AWS Lambda. Designed for stateless, event-driven code execution, it allows the developer to focus solely on the logic, with everything else handled by Lambda, including scalability, resilience etc. It further develops the “pay-as-you-go” cloud billing model by charging only for execution time, in increments of 100 msec, rather than the per hour charge incurred for an EC2 server instance.

Thought leaders worth following in the Cloud Enablement space include:

Further Reading On Cloud Enablement: