Many organizations are turning to cloud computing for a more flexible technical infrastructure. However, simply purchasing cloud services isn’t enough to fully leverage the benefits of cloud computing. The US National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) outlines five key characteristics of true cloud computing: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. Despite this, the 2019 State of DevOps Report found that only 29% of those claiming to use cloud technologies fully meet these criteria. This gap often leads to frustration and unmet expectations.
The Gap Between Traditional and Cloud Practices
Many organizations continue to manage their cloud infrastructure using traditional data center practices, which hinders them from achieving the full benefits of cloud computing. These benefits include improved software delivery performance, better service availability, and enhanced cost visibility. For instance, some companies using cloud infrastructure still require developers to go through lengthy processes for environment provisioning or configuration changes, which contradicts the on-demand self-service principle of cloud computing.
Transitioning to Cloud-Native Practices
To truly benefit from cloud computing, organizations need to adopt cloud-native and DevOpsc practices. This involves a significant shift in how IT functions, including developers, operations teams, and information security, work together. For example, while developers might seek complete control over production infrastructure in the cloud, information security professionals may have concerns about this approach. However, with disciplined change management and the adoption of infrastructure as code practices, such as GitOps, organizations can empower developers while maintaining security and compliance.
Infrastructure as Code: A Key to Cloud Efficiency
Infrastructure as code allows organizations to manage changes effectively and apply information security controls. It involves storing infrastructure configuration in version control systems, enabling automated provisioning and deployments through cloud APIs. This approach ensures traceability and auditability of every change, aligning with modern Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) practices.
Financial Implications of Cloud Adoption
Moving to cloud infrastructure also impacts procurement and finance. Unlike fixed-cost data centers, cloud services typically bill based on usage, leading to variable costs. This shift requires a new approach to financial management, including potentially adopting chargeback models to align incentives and control costs.
Re-architecting for the Cloud
To fully reap the benefits of cloud computing, organizations often need to re-architect their applications for a cloud-native environment. This process involves not just technical changes but also a shift in mindset and practices across the organization.
Challenges in Implementing Cloud Infrastructure
The journey to effective cloud adoption includes several challenges, such as aligning organizational functions, investing in technical and process changes, and transitioning from a lift-and-shift approach to a more cloud-native strategy. It’s a multi-year journey that requires experimentation, learning, and scaling effective practices across the organization.
Measuring Cloud Infrastructure Effectiveness
To measure the effectiveness of cloud infrastructure, organizations should start by identifying the benefits they hope to gain and then track the extent to which these benefits are being realized. This can include measuring the implementation of NIST’s characteristics, the prevalence of cloud-native technologies, and the efficiency of infrastructure management processes.
Adopting flexible cloud infrastructure is more than just a technical shift; it’s a comprehensive transformation that affects various aspects of an organization. By understanding and implementing the core principles of cloud computing, organizations can achieve greater agility, efficiency, and innovation in their operations.
Finisterra plays a vital role in this transition by automating infrastructure as code. This tool aids organizations in managing their AWS cloud resources more efficiently, aligning with cloud-native practices while ensuring compliance and security. With Finisterra, the path to optimized AWS cloud infrastructure becomes more straightforward, facilitating a smoother adoption of cloud computing principles.