Driving Organizational Transformations through Cloud Native Adoption

Sada Rajagopalan, Sr.Director - Architecture / Enterprise Principal Architect, Asurion and Kevin Barnett, Sr.Director- Architecture, Asurion
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Sada Rajagopalan, Sr.Director - Architecture / Enterprise Principal Architect, Asurion

Sada Rajagopalan, Sr.Director - Architecture / Enterprise Principal Architect, Asurion

We have come a long way in our infrastructure technology journey. The journey began with companies owning their own data centers, servers, software and resource. We then evolved to ASP models and COLO Data Centers on the facilities side and virtualization on the server side, which opened the door for the private cloud. The latest step in the infrastructure transformational journey is public and hybrid cloud adoption.  The evolution in public cloud infrastructure services and the container technologies has provided the fuel to propel organizations forward, many leap frogging their competitors by leveraging this transformation. 

Companies who have been successful at embracing the journey to the public cloud have done so by moving beyond their traditional approaches and fully embracing a cloud native approach.  Without this transformation it will be very difficult to realize the benefits of a public cloud strategy such as: Improved time to market, organizational agility, reduced risk/cost of failure, improved operational efficiency and the associated savings in labor this efficiency provides.

The only constant along the journey is change.  We have a choice to adapt or die.  So, we adapt…our tools, processes, knowledge and skills.  It is survival of the fittest in the technology jungle.  Most who die along the journey don’t die from technology issues, they die from inability to make the organizational transformation.

Embrace Cloud Adoption

What do you need to know for your organization not to be captured as another entry in the fossil record?

Most enterprises unlike Startups or SMBs utilize cloud for specific workloads

  • Elastic / Cost efficient infrastructure expansion
  • Developer friendly platform services to enable speed to market
  • Complex heterogeneous infrastructure ecosystems such as big data processing/ machine learning systems / MPP analytical systems etc.
  • Self service enabled infrastructure and tools for dev-ops adoption
  • Backup/Restore, DR/BCP systems
  • Development/QA environments and Research playgrounds

While undergoing a Cloud adoption journey, It is very common to fall into well known tar pits of trying to replicate the patterns that have been working effectively in an enterprise on-prem infrastructure. Following these practices could turn an otherwise fast moving org back into a lumbering dinosaur that is quickly overtaken by a faster predator.Kevin Barnett, Sr.Director- Architecture, Asurion

This could cause a lot of complexity in the future. To create an analogy, when the industry went through the phase of the Physical to Virtual(P2V) migrations and enabled virtualized platforms over raw /bare metal infrastructure via VMware, Microsoft and Xen’s virtualization technologies, an ecosystem of tools / processes were created to support the steady state operations. These tools stood alone or integrated into the enterprise suite of tools and over the period of time became the standard mechanisms to provision/deprovision virtual machines, add / remove storage, patch/upgrade operating systems etc.

Cloud native adoption is a strategy to embrace the toolsets and technologies that are readily available in the Cloud service provider’s ecosystem or through a market place vendor. This is extremely similar to the approach most enterprises took with VMware toolsets with P2V migrations.

Cloud Native thinking stems from carefully analyzing the use cases and applying the right technologies that are comparable to provide current / existing functionality and satisfies the operational, security, monitoring and compliance requirements.

What is Cloud Native Adoption?

Cloud Native adoption is an approach to look for services and technologies natively provided by the Cloud service provider and replace existing/legacy third party hardware or software tools used in enterprise environments.A simple3-tier web application will use very different deployment models for on-prem and cloud. The components in AWS that will enable core infrastructure service qualities such as hardware load balancing, clustering, fault tolerance/high availability and scalability are very different than the ones that would be used in an on prem deployment.

The technologies available as cloud native options provide and guarantee advertised SLAs and due to economies of scale (wide adoption of consumers) are priced very competitively. The following table shows a comparison of such options between an enterprise on-prem infrastructure and AWS as the cloud service provider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Native Adoption Benefits

The primary benefits in Cloud native adoption are:

  • Operational Tools consolidation
  • Enhanced scripting and automation
  • Leverage marketplace tools for advanced capabilities
  • Rich Dashboards and Reporting of Monitoring and Log data
  • Empowered Employee Workforce capable of performing operational automation

Cloud native adoption spans a variety of technology domains such as

  • Operating system image management, patching
  • Directory and Domain name services
  • Managed Network services – Load balancers, Routers, Firewalls, VPN
  • Clustering, High availability, Elastic Scale
  • Virtualized Storage
  • Operations and Deployment management tools and services
  • Managed Databases
  • Managed application containers
  • Managed complex application services.

The following table provides a brief summary that compares and contrasts on-prem vs AWS cloud native option.

  Technology

 On Premises option

  AWS Cloud Native Option

Domain Naming System

Infoblox/AD

Route 53

Load Balancers

Big IP F5 / CISCO CSS

ELB

Elastic Compute

Manual Vmwareconfigs

Autoscale

Storage options

Block Storage /Array – EMC/Hitachi/Netapp

EBS, S3, EFS

Backup/Archival option

Commvault Netback tapes

Glacier, Storage Gateway

Networking

Vlans,routers, firewalls, Cisco , Juniper – mostly hardware based

SDN based – VPC, VGW,IGW, VPN , DirectConnect,NACLs,Security Groups, placement groups

Databases SQL / No SQL

Oracle SQL Server Cassandra, Mongo DB

Managed RDS – Oracle/SQL/MySQL/PostGre, Dynamo DB, Aurora.

O/S Image management

Redhat satellite server

AMIs

Deployment and Infrastructure Automation

Vmware scripting, Shell scripts, Product based automation scripts.

Cloud Formation, OpsWorksChef, Puppet, Boto, API, SDK, AWS CLI etc

Messaging / Notification

Tibco , IBM, Rabbit MQ variety of COTS products

SQS, SNS

Managed application containers

Jboss, Springsource, tomcat etc

Beanstalk

Container technology

Docker,CoreOS,  on Vmware

ECS / Docker

Monitoring and Visualization

Nagios, HP Sitescope, PRTG, Opnet, Splunk Quest software

Cloudwatch, CloudTrail, Kibana.

Security Operations

SIEM, IDS,IPS, Solarwinds and other custom software

CloudTrail, Cloudwatch, IAM,

Data Protection

Network encryption, Firewalls, Traffic isolation, Disk /DB / file level Encryption

VPC, Data in Transit protection using TLS,S2N and Data at Rest protection using AWS CloudHSM, KMS and third party encryption technologies.

So, what are the keys to survival in the technology jungle?  The simple summary is that every wave of technology that is introduced must be adopted in new and extended dimensions to reap the promised benefits.  With the public cloud it is not enough just to pick up your existing solutions and run them in the cloud.  We need to change our thinking.  We need to think cloud native in our application development, infrastructure solutions and operational processes.  We need to evolve our organization to embrace the devops capabilities that are now available.  The key to success or failure is not in the technology alone.  Your success is dependent on the ability to make technology and parallel organizational transformations to reap the full benefits of Cloud services.

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