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Balance tactical with strategic when thinking cloud

It’s always been an issue—those who look at IT architecture as something that exists to serve a single application or small systems domain. These days many organizations fail to select a cloud technology to serve enterprise IT as a whole. They deal with a series of tactical application cases that all have one-off cloud architectures. Do that 20 to 30 times, and you’ll have a real problem. 

The result is predictable. Cloud promised to lower costs and increase agility, but you’re facing a complex mess of cloud technologies built by one project after another. Things are difficult to change, and the value cloud was supposed to bring isn’t there. Moreover, toss the keys to those in CloudOps and you’re likely to see them fall down from the number of moving parts and heterogeneous complexity they are attempting to operate.

So how to balance the tactical with the strategic? Here are two solid things you can implement today to understand both the long and the short game here:

Macro (strategic) and micro (tactical) architectures. Macroarchitecture addresses the larger vision of leveraging cloud and defines common cloud services based on a holistic understanding of the business.

Identify common services, such as storage, compute, or databases that are used across projects. This does a couple of things, including reducing the number of cloud service types, thus simplifying the architecture going forward. It also simplifies both new cloud-based applications development and migration, since we know where we are likely going.

Microarchitectures are really the application instances where we take the requirements of the application—something specific such as inventory control—and leverage as much as we can from the macroarchitecture. This includes common services such as security, governance, and monitoring and operations which you want to be shared. Of course, some will be new and unique, and we’ll examine those on a case-by-case basis.

Currently enterprises only use microarchitectures. Complexity catches up with them quickly, as does inefficiency and operations nightmares.

Ruler versus committee. What’s the joke? “Looks like it’s designed by a committee.” I’ve found this to be true. Too many cooks in the kitchen means things don’t get done and they don’t get done correctly.

Whenever I take over as a CTO, I ask for the ability to fire people and control all IT budgets. I’ve been called “Cloud Nazi” at points in my career, but the notion is to align to one vision, understand a single set of business requirements, and create a solution that’s correct for the business. Having a single leader means this is done in much less time and results in a single unified vision.

Avoid these issues now, else it’s going to be a bumpy journey to the cloud—and beyond.

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