Sep 27, 2019
The Cloud Is Not a Plan
Written by Nathan Johnston, Chief Technology Officer
The proliferation of new cloud technology has dramatically reduced the traditional barriers to new technology implementation. These advances have driven a new era of innovation. The time from ideation to realization has been reduced; in some cases, all that’s required is a few mouse clicks and a credit card number. This ease of provisioning has opened new avenues for technology adoption. Ideas that were previously too difficult can now be implemented and tested both quickly and cost-effectively.
Although these advancements provide excellent opportunities for generating business value, care must be taken to prevent the “candy store” approach, which results in an environment that is difficult to support and riddled with unexpected costs. A disciplined approach helps ensure that the goals of the project include both supportability and costs.
Plan and Watch Your Costs
At the beginning of a new technology implementation, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the cost implications is essential. In a cloud environment, this becomes even more important; as new and unfamiliar billing models may be part of your solution. Many cloud features allow resources to scale up in both cost and capacity as load increases; while other features may bill on a cost per transaction model. Costs can escalate quickly due to unexpected load from users, inefficient applications, or errors in implementation.
Make sure you have a game plan in place to monitor and control costs when your applications go live, both in development environments and production. Even during development, unexpected costs can propagate during testing; either when something goes wrong, or when large datasets are loaded for functional load testing.
Plan Your Technology Footprint
Cloud service providers offer what can be an overwhelming array of technology and implementation strategies. It’s easy, almost too easy, to just select whatever seems most interesting from the list of bright and shiny new features. Early in your ideation phase is the perfect time to explore all that the cloud has to offer. But before you start implementation, you must carefully consider how each choice will fit into your technology plan. Each choice you make will have an impact on the skills required for your team to support the technology, and the effort required to operate it.
Plan for the Cloud Lifecycle
The cloud is an ever-changing environment. New features and capabilities are constantly being brought out of preview and into production. Existing features get upgraded/enhanced while the underlying systems undergo constant maintenance and configuration changes. Although the service providers try to minimize the impact of these changes on existing applications, you must be aware of how the changing environment will affect your applications. Pay attention to announcements from your cloud service provider, as you may need to make changes to accommodate these enhancements and upgrades.
Although cloud services bring tremendous potential to the technology landscape, The Cloud itself is not a plan. You must plan even the smallest implementations to prevent the unexpected pitfalls of uncontrolled costs, increased knowledge requirements, and unforeseen upgrade alterations. If you carefully/thoughtfully plan and document your cloud implementations, you can take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer; both cost-effectively and efficiently.