Recommendation 1: Play ‘What If?’
Managers and executives need to run exercises to illuminate how potential business and regulatory scenarios could impact their development. The goal of these “what-if” exercises is to identify potential problems.
What if new privacy laws are passed, or the company and application has to deal with data from European customers? Nearly three-quarters of managers with responsibility for the cloud believe that the management of privacy and data-protection regulations are more complex in the cloud, according to a recent Ponemon Institute report.
What if the company moves its applications to a new cloud-infrastructure provider? While few good numbers exist that measure the cost of moving cloud providers, the top challenge for businesses is optimizing the cost of using the cloud. Failing to reduce the cost of moving from one cloud provider to another serves to lock a company into their existing provider.
Pull quote/interrupter: 53% of companies are trying to reduce costs by optimizing their usage of the cloud.
These what-if games will help the company decide how much flexibility and abstractness needs to be built into their development and operations platforms. While developers are typically tasked with how something is done, and operations with how it is managed, both need an overarching framework to reduce overlapping efforts and avoid future pitfalls.
Recommendation 2: Look for decision points
Executive management and cloud architects need to look for points in the development process that may require a particular technology or process be replaced. Identifying these points of fungibility will allow a company to be prepared for the future.
To stay flexible in the future, companies should architect their their entire design, including security, performance, and monitoring tools, to work with different services. While Amazon Web Services dominates the market today—and continues to innovate—Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and others are coming on strong with powerful, differentiated offerings that are proving compelling. Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, for example, have attracted 34 percent of companies to the service, up from 20 percent in 2016.
Recommendation 3: Identify services that allow flexibility
After identifying potential pitfalls and mapping those to technology and policy decision points, cloud managers then need to identify technological solutions that can solve their problems. In many cases, infrastructure can be abstracted and control points added by using additional layers, such as an application delivery controller.
Sixty-nine percent of companies have used the cloud to re-engineer a business process. Companies always need to make choices regarding whether a service provides more security or a better feature, but executives need to balance those considerations with the need for flexibility and to be ready for an uncertain future.
Developers left to their own devices will often not think of the bigger picture. As such, enterprise architects and CXOs need to enforce business priorities through architectural principles that protect against dead-end development choices. By brainstorming what-if scenarios, identifying fungible points in the development process, and finding flexible solutions, companies can prevent significant headaches in the future.
Having a cloud architect can help push application development in the right direction. It’s a role that more companies are utilizing. More than 56 of respondents to the annual cloud survey identified themselves as cloud architects, up from 40 percent in 2016, according to RightScale.
Developers can’t—and shouldn’t—engineer inside an organizational vacuum. Instead, they should be provided with a framework that allows them to develop to the future.