Cloud-based IT infrastructures and software solutions are not only disrupting IT, they disrupt the way organizations, and even industries, operate. The full extent of the cloud’s scope of influence stretches far beyond the traditional IT landscape. To name a few, cloud impacts IT management and the ways teams work together. Last but not least, it requires a new skill set for individuals to operate in this sphere. These are just a few areas where the cloud has had significant impact. The cloud can be seen as a framework. In this article, we explain how cloud technology—if it’s applied with the right mind set—helps teams accelerate development.
The Cloud Framework
The cloud computing model has destroyed the boundary between the world of hardware and the world of software: the data center has become software too. The cloud provider offers you a programming framework as a foundation on which you can build anything. You program a datacenter with all of the components: computers, networks, disks, load balancers. When you start it up, a virtual instance of your data center is started. With this model it becomes very easy to change your data center. Just change the code and restart the program!
What Is Cloud-Native
So, what does it mean to be cloud-native? Do you have to use all of the cloud provider’s specific tools and resources? No, not at all. Cloud-native means you build and run applications that exploit the cloud benefits—such as scalability, flexibility, high availability and ease of maintenance. You focus on how to create these applications and how to run them: not on where they run.
Five Advantages of Cloud-Native
Organizations that adopt the Cloud-native style of software development and delivery have significant advantages over the traditional way of software delivery. If you’re responsible for IT projects, these five cloud-native advantages will sound like music to your ears:
1. High speed of Delivery
The cloud offers loads of off-the-shelf features so engineers can focus on developing unique ones—in other words, innovation. Leveraging these features, coupled with an ability to test every change with ease, allows development teams to deliver functional software faster.
2. Predictable Processes
As everything is programmed and automated, the software delivery process becomes very predictable.
3. Strong Reliability
Cloud providers offer robust services with consistent performance and multi-regional availability, which reduces the number of potential errors
4. Pay for what you use
Instead of investing in hardware for your own data center, you only pay for what you use in the cloud. However, don’t forget to shut off the service when you don’t need it!
5. Disaster Recovery
In the cloud, everything is code. So, in the unlikely event of a disaster, it is super simple to reboot the infrastructure and applications. Just add the data, and you’re operational again.
The Impact of Cloud-Native on Teams
A cloud-native infrastructure offers developers a stable, flexible environment with high availability — a place where engineers can release new features faster and easier than ever before. Cloud platforms provide automated services to manage infrastructure and increase its availability and reliability. All of this requires different skills from the people who are responsible for the infrastructure and applications. So, how will cloud technology impact your organizational culture?
Say Goodbye to Ops As You Know It
System administrators have traditionally been responsible for installing, supporting, and maintaining servers and systems, as well as developing management scripts and troubleshooting environments. In the cloud, this is replaced by managed services, immutable infrastructure and self-healing architectures. In the cloud everything is automated and coded: from the applications, monitoring, the infrastructure and delivery processes.
Bring True Developer Skills
Cloud-native requires people who can design systems, write code, automated deployment processes and automate the monitoring of systems.
They also need to know how to adopt the best way of working. In the cloud, DevOps has become the standard framework for the software delivery life cycle. This framework oversees the entire cycle of planning, developing, using, and managing applications. Since the cloud removes most of the “Ops” work, it’s essential for organizations to amp up their internal development skills.
Embrace Changes to Your Environment
In the classical IT world, changes to an existing system was to be avoided as much as possible, as it might possibly break things. In the cloud-native world, you embraces changes to your environment, as they may expose errors in your design or application that you need to fix, so that the error will not occur when the change is released to production.
Follow the Cloud-Native Roadmap
To exploit its advantages, it’s helpful for developers to follow the cloud-native roadmap. This roadmap consists of six steps to build and run cloud-native environments.
An Example of a Cloud-Native Set-Up
COIN is an association founded by telecom providers taking care of the transition of customers between telecom providers. To reduce management costs and increase development speed, COIN turned to Binx. As a cloud-partner, Binx could help them take full control of their software development, by migrating their infrastructure and applications to the cloud.
Initially, the development team, led by Binx, containerized all applications. This made it possible to release and deploy a new version of features as soon as there was a commit—a dream come true for the configuration manager. Everything deployed was visible, including all the resources associated with it.
The team decided to deploy Amazon RDS for Oracle, a high-available Oracle service, since they could not easily migrate the existing Oracle database to an open-source relational database management system.
The organization was provided with the self-service reporting tool (Amazon QuickSight) to access the data. This allowed end-users to create their own reports, and the development team to stay focused on developing features instead.
Because all applications were containerized, the application deployment process was automated and standardized which improved both reliability and speed of deployment.
COIN adopted a service called CloudFormation to code the infrastructure, to make the environment 100% reproducible. Binx developed a large number of custom resources for features like automated password generation and infrastructure setup. Managed services automatically deploy via a SAAS-based Git service, so there’s no in-house installation at COIN.
Last but not least, Binx implemented business service level checks and monitoring to ensure that the team is alerted of any disturbance in the service offered to their end users. These Service-level indicators (SLI) measure how well the services are performing and objectives determine what acceptable levels of performance are. These SLIs are also used on a daily basis to improve the system. Event for small aberrations, the team executes root cause analysis to see if the problem can be designed out of the system.
The service level objectives are continuously monitored and every breach automatically alerts the team and the on-call engineer.
Becoming Cloud-Native: Create Your Starting Point
Now that you can see the cloud as a framework, its benefits over more traditional approaches should be clear. The next step is to adopt cloud-native ways of working. Can your organization view infrastructure as code and migrate workloads to the cloud? What skills are lacking? Can your workforce adopt a cloud-native mindset? By answering these questions, you create a starting point for your journey towards becoming cloud-native. Safe travels, we look forward to seeing you out there!
Urgent Future: Digital Culture
This article was featured in Urgent Future: Digital Culture. A trend report featuring various view points on the culture that makes digital organizations thrive in today’s economy. Download the trend report here