Do pigs fly in a public cloud?

The laws of physics don't change when you move, migrate or emigrate to a public cloud platform. However, for some reason, there is a tendency to forget the laws of physics. Pigs don't fly in a public cloud and neither do improved processes and standards. Processes and standards have to be defined. What the pigs do is another story. The marketing people will suggest that going to a cloud hosting solution will result in:

•Maximum flexibility

•Increased standardisation, compliance and great hair

•Improved quality and testing

•Reduced costs and free servicing for life

Before we go forward, lets go back a few years. When virtualisation became the norm there was an explosion of virtual machines. Think back. When a new server arrived it was a big deal. You may have even held a welcome ceremony for the new server. Then VMware rocked up and all of a sudden you had servers coming out of your ears. Thankfully there were hard limits to the number of VMs you could squeeze into the virtual server room. I personally think that virtualisation resulted in reduced standards and processes.

And back to public cloud. There are no limits. The consequences of poor processes and control are immediate. Where virtualisation allowed you to cover up design mistakes (you could always squeeze in another server here and there), public cloud is not as forgiving. Mistakes have a direct and immediate impact on cost and availability. There is no hiding. The marketing people were right about the flexibility I guess ... but not about the standardisation and compliance. Process is important when you move to a hosted solution in a public cloud platform like AWS or Azure. Disaster recovery, albeit more affordable, still needs to be well documented and drilled. Role based access controls in your virtual datacentre are more important than ever. These controls and processes don't just magically appear. You have to define them, adopt them and police them from the beginning. Life in the cloud really begins with your operational processes. The project only gets going when you move to business-as-usual.

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Gavin is a freelance IT Consultant, an architect and a cloud expert. He has been working in IT for over 20 years.
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