The artist John Constable once said that “we see nothing ‘til we truly understand it”. This is a timely adage and one that is increasingly applicable to business’ ongoing cloud odyssey.
A compelling picture must be painted with great artistry, empathy and insight. When it comes to designing an effective cloud architecture, there are many complex challenges, including control and policy issues. The solution is not to drown in the detail, but to define your objectives from the outset.
Fuelled by a strong vision, the corporate cloud canvas can be infinite in its possibility and potential to unlock new business realities. Smart companies are already exploring new environments to maximise the performance of their applications while maintaining a strong security posture. Today, “cloud first” strategies, where cloud-based solutions are rigorously interrogated before making new IT investments, are driving previously unimaginable levels of innovation and profit.
F5 Networks’ 2017 State of Applications Delivery Report recently reported that the number of global cloud-first organisations jumped from 33% in 2016 to 47% this year. 32% of surveyed customers claimed they purchased solutions for the public cloud, 20% will have half of their apps in the cloud, and 86% are committed to multi-cloud architectures.
Application orchestration is a precise art and must be specifically tailored to meet business needs. With the right operational palette, firms can scale and deploy on any cloud platform to improve performance with greater control, flexibility and security. Companies such as Salesforce, Workday and Deliveroo have successfully embraced the cloud and are seeing big growth. This is due to their ability to keep capturing new business by being agile. BP is also utilising the cloud to make oil and gas discovery more operationally efficient and is achieving faster time to market.
IT decision-makers want services that deliver, manage and protect applications in the cloud as they do in the data centre. Avoiding rudderless multi-cloud sprawls and simplifying the related complexities is vital to determine which workloads fit the right environments. This means considering application delivery and security capabilities of each cloud provider, as well as the perennial issues pertaining to lack of visibility and control.
Developing a cloud architecture appropriate for your business can seem like a daunting task. According to renowned cloud scene and landscape virtuoso JMW Turner, “it is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create”.
Clearly, overcoming reticence and an aversion to change is pivotal to benefiting from the multi-cloud world. The big challenge is that a multitude of environments often results in inconsistent application of security policies and compliance risks. Furthermore, multiple cloud architectures can exacerbate IT skillset gaps and confine the utility and value of existing investments.
Companies also face the dilemma of adding applications and services for employees or customers, while simultaneously controlling data centre growth. Notably, managing different services in multiple clouds can quickly become costly due to inefficient resource allocation, longer time-to-service and increased time-to-market.
Typically, enterprises want to avoid being locked into proprietary architectures and are drawn to options such as open source solutions. With an inspired, business-specific cloud solutions package, it is possible to consistently apply rich application services across private, public and interconnected clouds, including SSL, security and access control.
Intelligently leveraging the multi-cloud world also gives businesses the flexibility to easily develop, test and scale applications in container environments. Done correctly, multi-cloud solutions can help businesses take advantage of public cloud resources, using sophisticated ‘gateway’ technologies to perform workload discovery and efficiently orchestrate a secure connection to application services.
Painting a vision
Flexibility and scalability are essential for migrating applications to the cloud while still cutting infrastructure and operational costs. There should be no limits to navigating apps in a rapidly developing and interconnected world.
Ever the visionary: John Constable also observed that it is “difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the keynote, the standard of scale, and the chief organ of sentiment”.
While it is never easy to create a masterpiece, the growing availability of secure cloud services and platforms, if deployed with clarity and purpose, means it is possible to craft a strategy that has consistent policies and controls. It is a unique route to avoid lock-in challenges and achieve greater deployment flexibility for faster time-to-market. Today’s multi-cloud world is a veritable gallery of creative scope. Now is the time to brush up your skills and keep your business in the frame for growth.
By Martin Walshaw, Senior Systems Engineer at F5 Networks