Reducing Cloud Infrastructure Complexity

The impact of the cloud and its role in mainstream IT is undeniable. According to IDC, global cloud IT infrastructure spending is projected to reach US$92 billion (SG$126 billion) in 2023. Notably, cloud spending is exceeding the spending on non-cloud IT infrastructure, underscoring the influence of the cloud in modern IT deployments.

Fast Forward to Cloud

Why are enterprises and startups alike turning to the cloud? At the forefront is its sheer scalability and how it enables rapid time-to-market. Instead of waiting weeks or months for hardware systems to arrive, cloud infrastructure can be launched and put to work within minutes. Moreover, cloud-based resources such as managed cloud databases reduce the complexity of deploying new services, thereby enabling smaller teams of developers to do more.

New cloud-centric methodologies have also emerged with the maturity of the cloud. For instance, infrastructure as code (IaC) makes it possible to automate the management and provisioning of an entire technology stack with configuration, replacing error-prone manual deployments. Among others, IaC also supports CI/CD deployments and disaster recovery plans with the ability to easily deploy test environments or even the entire infrastructure stack.

Cloud proficiency varies across organizations, however. For most, the journey to the cloud began with low-hanging, lift-and-shift migrations or relatively straightforward cloud implementations, such as a website or an online shop. Other enterprises might have started with cloud-native applications within their organization as part of an effort toward rapid experimentation.

Like most IT projects, cloud deployments are probably implemented with the technologies of the day and by developers and architects who prefer quick results over efficiency. Although this laissez-faire approach yields quick results, it can be inefficient and culminate in systems that are hard to maintain. The situation is worsened over time as additional services or new features are built on top of the initial design.

Cloud-amplified complexity

It’s no surprise that deploying well-designed cloud systems is getting more difficult. As organizations look to leverage the cloud in more advanced ways, some are forced to re-architect existing systems, preventing them from realizing the benefits of reduced time-to-market.

Other factors that increase the complexity of the cloud include the following:

  • Rapid evolution of the cloud: The breakneck growth of the public cloud has birthed new cloud technologies and strategies that did not exist before. For instance, serverless architecture and containers entered the mainstream only in recent years.
  • Deep expertise matters more than ever: While there are more qualified cloud engineers today, there remains a dearth of experts given the sheer demand for them. A team of “been there, done that” experts can enable an organization to move ahead much faster.
  • Larger attack surface: As more systems and workloads are moved to the cloud, IT teams are under increasing pressure to keep up with the dramatically increased attack surface. From catching configuration drift to patching software libraries that are used within the technology stack, having team members with the right mix of experience is invaluable.

Modern public cloud platforms offer nuanced, broad capabilities that continue to evolve at a rapid pace. Leveraging the right features can bring forth immense rewards not just in terms of cost, but also offer greater reliability and maintainability. Conversely, ignoring good design can lead to cloud sprawl and ballooning cloud costs, tangling the organizations in a web of spiraling complexity that hinders new cloud implementations.

A Better Cloud Infrastructure Design

Ultimately, the cloud journey does not end with the successful implementation or migration of individual systems to the cloud. The breakneck pace of development in the cloud means that best practices and optimal strategies are constantly evolving, making it highly challenging for in-house IT to pin down. Moreover, as new cloud capabilities become available, the onus is on enterprises to leverage the right features for the best cloud solution possible, which necessitates constant optimization.

Getting this right requires the involvement of experts who are well-versed with the latest cloud practices and automation strategies that can be gleaned only from experience, a deep understanding of the latest cloud methodologies, and the evolving capabilities of each public cloud platform. As these cloud experts focus on core designs, in-house IT can keep doing what they do best: keeping users happy and improving productivity and user experience.

For instance, Indonesia’s streaming service provider Genflix wanted to migrate its video-on-demand (VOD) workflow to Amazon Web Services (AWS). With a library of 10,000 hours of VOD content, efficiency and seamless processing were vital. CloudCover helped Genflix architect an end-to-end media workflow with a serverless computing design in a span of just three months.

Whether you are rolling out a new cloud-native system from scratch or looking to improve an existing cloud deployment, a review of your cloud deployment might be in order. This isn’t as daunting as it seems and can be initiated through a simple discovery and analysis phase.

This article is part of a series of articles from sponsors of KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2020 North America

Paul Mah

Paul Mah once dabbled in C and Java at his day job. Now he writes stories by day and codes at night.

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