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What cloud computing can learn from good BBQ

You can’t beat good BBQ. As long as I’ve been eating, I’ve loved the taste of BBQ cooked correctly, and I’ve loved the science of getting BBQ right, no matter brisket, ribs, pulled pork, or chicken. (Vegans may want to sit this blog out.)

What’s clear to me is that the process and ingredients that it takes to make your cloud computing project work are directly related to how you get a perfectly smoked piece of meat. Here’s a bit of advice about both.

The long game wins the race

In the world of BBQ, you hear the term “low and slow” a great deal. It’s really the process of smoking meat at a lower temperature, for a longer time. Typically, eight to ten hours for a brisket.

Cloud computing migrations typically work best when there is a slow and methodical plan, and corresponding methodical execution, inside enterprises where the movement of data and apps from on-premises systems to the cloud happens at a slower, but steady, pace. This lets IT react to issues, whereas moving too fast often results in missed issues, such as overlooked security vulnerabilities.

This methodical pace does not mean slow or sporadic progress. The idea is to never stop the momentum, but every week make a bit of progress in moving to the cloud. In many instances, those enterprises that move slower often finish well before their counterparts that move too aggressively and thus make mistakes, so have to hit the reset key a few times.

Monitoring is key

Good pit masters are fanatical about temps. The temperature of the pit, the meat, even the air temperature around the pit. Indeed, a whole industry has arisen around the remote BBQ monitors, using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

In the world of cloud computing, you also need good monitoring and metrics. This lets you focus on what’s working and what’s not. That way, you can take corrective actions before things get too much off course.

I’ve run into situations where the same mistake was made more than a dozen times due to the fact there was no central command and control for a cloud migration and operations. Those are the issues you need to first spot and then correct. But to do that, you need to have the monitoring and metrics processes in place.

Look for a steady state to start ops

Good pit masters know that cooked meat needs to rest. Doing so brings back the juices and stops the cooking process. The result is more tender, juicier meat.

In the world of cloud computing, this means that you need to stop migration or development, get to a stable state, and start the process of cloudops. Some enterprises never get to a steady state. But you have to be finished migrating at least a portion of your applications and data at some point so you can get to operations. This means day-to-day operations, including business continuity and disaster recovery, proactive security monitoring, performance monitoring—anything that keeps things running for a long time.

The BBQ analogy should make the process of good cloud computing easy to remember. It also makes me hungry.

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