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How to avoid the coming cloud complexity crisis

A cloud complexity crisis is going to happen. We’re adding hundreds of workloads to the cloud on a daily basis, standing up new databases, adding different types of compute and storage, and adding cloud-based networks—and doing all of this without taking down almost no existing on-premises resources.

The end state will be too many resources under management, too much heterogeneity, and too much complexity.

However, all is not lost. You can do some planning and use good tools to keep complexity under control—both traditional on-premises complexity and the new cloud complexity you’re building. But, like anything worthwhile in IT, you’re going to have to invest some time, planning, and resources to solve this problem not just upfront but on an ongoing basis.

Here are a few words of advice:

Create a complexity management plan. This means taking a few steps back and understanding your own issues before you start throwing processes, technology, and a lot of cash at the problems. In this plan, you need to define your approach to dealing with traditional and cloud-driven complexity, how systems will be tracked, how you’ll minimize complexity going forward, and the use of technology to assist you.

Select tools needed to managed complexity. This is a Pandora’s box, because everyone has an idea of what tools will be helpful. In my work, I end up in a lot of emotional discussions around something that should be very logical. You need to pick tools that provide the following capabilities: configuration management, devops automation, hybrid (cloud and on premises) monitoring and management tools, and cloud-specific tools such as cloud services brokers (CSBs) or cloud management platforms (CMPs).

Set up processes. This means taking the time to figure out core processing of tracking cloud and traditional resources, of services bound to those resources, and data that exists around those resources. How do you add and/or remove resources? Who does it? And what tools do you use?

If you this do right, you’ll have a very productive next ten years. If you do this wrong, chances are that you’ll drown in your own work. Take your pick.

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