Many organisations are enthusiastically embarking on their cloud journey, investing in cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure, in all kinds of SaaS applications, and in new ways of working such as DevOps, CI/CD and agile. That enthusiasm is not surprising, outlines Rob Akershoek, senior IT Management Architect at Fruition Partners. "The transition to the cloud can significantly reduce your total IT costs. Although the costs for cloud infrastructure will usually be slightly higher than in a traditional setting, in the end infrastructure only makes up a small part of your total costs. The biggest gains can be made in application development and operations; development will increasingly be automated, with standard vendor building blocks and built-in applications in areas such as data analytics and AI. Management will also become cheaper: upgrades and changes will be largely automated via your CI/CD pipeline".
That sounds wonderful on paper. But, Akershoek acknowledges, many organisations face the same challenges over time. "Good cloud management is crucial if you want to make the most of the benefits of the cloud and actually cash in on the associated savings. And that's where the problem often lies. The transition to the cloud is often a lot slower than previously thought. Many organisations also have little insight into the actual use per application or service, and therefore no insight into the costs thereof. There is also often overcapacity; on average, some thirty to forty percent of the available cloud capacity remains unused".
Another stumbling block, according to Akershoek, is the onboarding of new teams working with DevOps. "Aspects such as risk compliancy and security are often not managed centrally. Moreover, the transition to the cloud often involves new ways of working, such as DevOps, CI/CD and agile. Usually there is no question of standardization; each development team takes a slightly different approach. Meanwhile, the number of products, services and components is growing, the number of security threats is increasing, and organisations are faced with more and more regulations. There are also more and more suppliers within the IT ecosystem that you work with. All these suppliers often have their own cloud management tools, with their own functionality for matters such as identity management, compliance and security".
In short: the transition to the cloud is complex and is usually not without obstacles. According to Akershoek, it is not for nothing that insourcing occurs on a regular basis: in order to maintain speed and flexibility, many organisations are taking on part of the management of the cloud infrastructure and the development of applications. According to Akershoek, good cloud management is crucial for keeping one's head above water within this turbulent, constantly changing landscape. "What you now often see is that organizations have multiple clouds - for example, AWS and Azure - and a large number of SaaS vendors. Good cloud management starts with good IT management data and mapping out what services and products you have in house. What exactly do you take, and from whom? Which products and services run where in the cloud? Who uses them? How do they hang together? And: what do they cost?
A good overarching cloud management platform then ensures that the strengths of the various suppliers are exploited to the full. Many larger organisations opt for cloud management based on IT4IT, outlines Akershoek. "After you have mapped out for yourself what you need, it is wise to form a central cloud automation team. That team will provide a standard CI/CD pipeline and can arrange matters such as security, monitoring and firewall management on a central level. In this way, the cloud automation team provides a standard platform on which each DevOps team can work, so they can easily and unambiguously make the journey to the cloud. It is also important to standardize the onboarding process for new products and services. This will prevent people and departments from working around the central team again.