Steps to Scaling a Cloud-Native Strategy

Faiz Khan -
Cloud native strategy
Illustration: © IoT For All

Cloud computing is evolving at a rapid pace, largely due to the fact that most businesses have extended their remote work plans beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and have accelerated their digital transformation plans to keep up with demand. As a result, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is exploding, and specifically, there’s a rise in those adopting cloud-native strategies to effectively build and run applications across public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.

But enterprise cloud-native journeys haven’t been smooth sailing. Several complexities and inefficiencies have caused many to run into much longer project runways than they expected, leaving a significant dent in their IT budgets. In fact, a recent study found that nearly half of US and UK IT decision-makers say the average length of time it takes them to complete a single multi-cloud application migration successfully is one to two months. Considering how robust most businesses’ application stacks are, that’s a lot of time and money spent by companies for migrations.

Meanwhile, recent cloud outages that pushed Google, AWS, and Microsoft users offline illustrated just how pervasive the threat of downtime is for businesses. With these key considerations and challenges in mind, here are five steps to help enterprises scale their cloud-native strategy.

5 Steps to Scaling Cloud-Native Strategy

#1: Automate Migrations

Cloud deployments and migrations are time-consuming and costly endeavors, especially for companies relying on a years-old traditional and highly manual approach. Thankfully, in the age of automation, enterprises today are experiencing substantial time and cost savings and deploying migration strategies that move their workloads across multiple clouds in seconds instead of days.

Now, enterprises designing and deploying a new cloud infrastructure, migrating from on-premise to cloud, moving across clouds, or scaling their cloud-native strategy, are finding it much easier to do so because they have access to the right automation, tools, and a holistic approach. The reason why automation makes for such a seamless and quick transition is that most of these tools provide organizations with things like pre-built templates. These templates design and create their cloud infrastructure in minutes, along with specialized migrators that can be deployed anywhere to help migrate infrastructure and data.

Not only could this approach save IT teams thousands of dollars, but it eliminates one of their greatest pain points which, as we pinpointed above, is that their cloud migration journeys are taking much longer than they expected.

#2: Track Spending to Optimize Costs

Never has the IT world paid closer attention to competitor spending in the cloud. With household names like Ford, Boeing, and Adidas making headlines through their various partnerships with the ‘cloud big four’, it’s also never been clearer that the world’s largest enterprises are willing to spend top dollar to expand their cloud strategies. 

Not every organization has an unlimited budget, however. Sure, there’s been a drastic shift in the past two years where IT leaders are dedicating larger portions of their IT budgets to the cloud. But SMEs, in particular, have had to remain cautious with how they spend their money on their cloud-native strategies. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been easy. 

When my company surveyed over 400 IT leaders across the US and UK this year, 54 percent reported being hit with unexpected cloud costs. The pain of getting hit with unexpected costs is a point we hear regularly, particularly from AWS users frustrated by hidden charges and a lack of company-wide cloud visibility within the platform’s billing system. To effectively scale their cloud-native strategies, organizations need to find a solution that provides real-time and enterprise-wide insights into their spending so that they can optimize costs.

#3: Implement Strong Cloud Security Protocols

Enterprises worldwide have been battling a cybersecurity crisis, health pandemic, and climate emergency in tandem – all of which have left gaps in their cloud security strategies. Organizations have had to defend themselves against opportunistic cybercriminals and extreme weather events at the same time. In fact, 65 percent of IT decision-makers say their organization experienced at least one data loss incident last year. 

This has left a significant challenge on IT leaders’ hands to protect their cloud environments from both human threats and natural disasters. As they continue to scale their cloud-native strategies, implementing ironclad cloud security protocols is imperative. This includes an effective cloud-based disaster recovery plan so enterprises can respond to these incidents quickly and minimize downtime. 

Without a disaster recovery plan, organizations can expect to accrue losses of up to $5,600 for every minute of downtime, according to Gartner. Yet, 28 percent of US and UK IT decision-makers say they still don’t have a cloud-based disaster recovery plan in place to respond to these incidents. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of cloud-based disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Without one, every business risks losing vital data and having their systems, operations, or services shut down by natural and man-made disasters, security risks, hardware failures, and power outages.

#4: Harden Your Container Strategy 

In a year when more organizations will move to a distributed IT infrastructure spread across multiple clouds, we’re also witnessing an accompanying increase in containerized applications. My company found that 85 percent of IT decision-makers say they will be using a cloud container strategy next year. This represents significant industry growth, given Gartner previously predicted that only 75 percent of global organizations would run containerized applications in production by 2022. But why is this?

This rapid increase in container adoption is largely due to the following aspects:

  • Portability
  • Flexibility
  • Multi-cloud capabilities

All of these, of course, have skyrocketed in importance since the onset of COVID-19. In particular, we’re seeing many organizations adopting Kubernetes as their default container orchestration tool. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation data shows that of the 84 percent of companies using containers in production, an overwhelming 78 percent were using Kubernetes.

Given the growth in use, there also needs to be a focus on protecting an organizations’ Kubernetes applications. Despite their strict security protocols that help block access to components outside of a cluster, Kubernetes are susceptible to attack. Fortunately, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance for hardening your Kubernetes environments, with advice on how to proactively secure containers.

#5: Re-Imagine Cloud Management

Managing and maintaining infrastructure across clouds is just another operational challenge enterprises have to deal with in this already unpredictable business landscape. The more cloud environments an organization uses, the more complex it becomes to manage them. They often find themselves stuck behind the frustrating interoperability of platforms, or as their infrastructure grows, inefficiencies with monitoring resources and billing, and enforcing compliance. 

In order to scale their cloud-native strategies, IT leaders need to re-imagine how they manage their cloud environments and consider deploying a SaaS-based automation suite that allows them to manage and protect their multi-cloud environments through a single pane of glass. This is especially essential in this multi-cloud-driven environment, where IT leaders are increasingly shifting between public and private clouds. Managing this many clouds is undoubtedly a learning curve, given every provider be it AWS, Azure, IBM, or Google Cloud, publishes their own frameworks and guidelines. By managing them under a single pane of glass, however, IT teams can achieve key outcomes in the most efficient and cost-effective way while also eliminating the need for learning dozens of tools, complex scripting, and expensive consulting engagements.

Author
Faiz Khan - Founder and CEO, Wanclouds

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Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...