It was one of my favorite shows: the A-Team.
How Hannibal and his crew always managed to build something out of virtually nothing. Usually, they ended up in a shed in an abandoned place where they found some ordinary tools like shovels or pieces of metal that they transformed into amazing vehicles or weapons.
And as a kid – the A-Team showed in the Netherlands during the eighties, so in my teenage years – I never questioned the sudden availability of, for instance, welding equipment. It simply was there, it seemed very logical to me.
The Multi-cloud Toolbox
Multi-cloud very much reminds me of the A-Team these days. It appears to me that a lot of companies simply start doing things without having a plan. They have all the tools available and they just start building.
Doesn’t happen anymore in 2019? Wrong. It happens – a lot, just because they can.
A good friend of mine is a trainer in Excel and Power BI. If there are two complex pieces of software out there, then it’s probably Microsoft Excel and Power BI. If you use Excel, you are likely only using approximately ten to fifteen percent of its possibilities, unless you are a highly skilled financial engineer.
Excel is a massive toolbox. I’m quoting my friend now:
“I can give you the best toolbox in the world. It doesn’t mean that you can build a house with it.”
And that goes for Cloud too.
New trends in Cloud
I attended VMWorld2019 last week. One of my first stops is the bookstore on the campus at Fira in Barcelona. Just to check the new titles. It amazes me every single year.
The number of new books reflects the developments in Cloud pretty well. This year the bookstore contains a lot of books on IOT, Cloud-native, coding (tons of books on Python) and container technology such as Kubernetes and Docker.
These are books for professionals. Those who actually know what they can or can’t do in Cloud.
But what if you are not trained in that area and you hear all these great stories on how you can elevate your business, kick start your company into the brightest future ever seen? Getting new products to market faster, lowering your operational costs year on year, making big bucks out of data and becoming really innovative, leading the pack?
Yes. The tools are out there. Just a tip: take a look at the XebiaLabs Periodic Table of Devops - all the tools of the world, right at your fingertips. The big platforms are there, but also all the tools to create, automate and monitor workloads in the Cloud-native business.
Basically nothing is holding you back to start building your dream house in the Cloud. Get yourself the A-Team and off you go. Epic, right?
Well, it’s not going to be epic without a plan. If you start building a house, you would need an architect to design it and to think of ways to build it properly.
Now, I’m not trying to sell myself on this one. Only urging you all to have a plan. There are a lot of reasons, but in this article I will focus on three.
Your Cloud strategy – start with your business challenge, not the technology
A lot of companies are considering to go multi-cloud. It’s the new paradigm – build apps, run them anywhere. Now, multi-cloud can very often also refer to having applications in a private Cloud and in the public platforms of Azure, AWS or Google.
With Cloud-native development you are likely working in the public Cloud, with all sorts of cool stuff like serverless and containers. However - beware app or workload sprawl. Don’t get into the trap of falling storage or compute pricing – or worse: swapping tools just because you can.
What are the necessary features a certain tool would have? What do you intend to do? Focus on the outcome, not the tool or the platform. Focus on business value only.
What works best for you and your company? “Going to Cloud” is not a strategy. Even “going to Azure” is not a strategy – it’s a delivery tactic. A strategy would be to develop x application for y reason with z benefits for your business.
For example, a bank might have a strategy to get more customers to pay with an app for the very reason that most of their customers use smartphones or smartwatches. Enabling payment through these devices will be very convenient for customers - and enhance loyalty and revenue for the bank.
Part of the strategy might be to have that app available cross-platform, for both iPhone and Android users. Furthermore, it needs to be absolutely secure. The next step would be to determine the best solution for that strategy. The solution comes with principles: cross-platform, intrinsic secure, easy to use, etc.
Consider Cloud compliance carefully
Every company on earth, whether you are big or small, has to deal with compliance. That doesn’t disappear when you move workloads to the Cloud. On the contrary: you might find it getting more complex when moving your business to Cloud platforms.
How would you know if a Cloud provider is compliant with your business and the specific regulations that apply to your company? The leading platforms will help you with that. Have a look at the Azure Trust Center, as an example. You wouldn’t believe how many companies aren’t even aware this exists – don’t be one of them.
Multi-cloud presents new security challenges – don’t get caught out
Security. To keep this very simple: you are placing workloads in someone else’s datacenter, on someone else’s computer. It might partly be under your control, but even in IaaS there are big chunks that will be taken care of on your behalf.
Personally, I think that the major public Clouds are probably the safest place to put your workloads on and yet: securing your workloads will remain your responsibility.
Indeed: a zillion tools to help you secure it all, but again – these are tools. What do you have to secure? By putting up walls around your workloads, you are not securing your business.
Think like a hacker. They will get inside. What do you do then? How fast can you recover from a breach? What are your damage controls? Security is far beyond configuring a firewall.
Tip: have a look at the Mitre Attack-framework. Recently Azure and AWS have been added to the framework.
Catch up on more Multi-cloud security insights from Fujitsu Forum in our video below:
Complexity is your new reality. That requires more than an A-Team and a toolbox.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?