As so many enterprises confidently add an “s” to their “year” of experience in cloud computing, some traditional IT architecture concepts are beginning to pop back up. These concepts can make or break a cloud deployment, but they’re largely forgotten by those who design, build, and deploy today’s cloud computing systems. How did this happen?
Two factors: First, many architecture certification courses from specific cloud providers leave out a lot of generalized, basic architecture training. Second, many modern tools remove the need to think through the details that surround a cloud architecture solution.
All cloud architects need to fully understand core IT architectural concepts to create the most optimized cloud computing architecture, be it single or multicloud. Here are the top three overlooked concepts:
Abstraction. This concept takes very complex things, such as poorly designed databases, overly complex network designs, or too-complicated applications, and puts up a more simplified view for the human or application that uses those resources.
Perhaps the best example of abstraction in cloud systems is data virtualization, where abstraction layers or virtual data structures are placed over any type of physical data storage system. No matter how badly the database was designed, and no matter how many applications are tightly coupled to the physical databases, you can leverage the data using self-defined structures that are mapped to any back-end database structure.
The bottom line is that you can deal with any complex or poorly designed database using your own access structure that provides an abstraction layer above the physical database structure. Because you don’t change the physical database, you don’t force changes to all applications that are coupled to the database.
Orchestration. In a cloud architect meeting, if you ask who understands orchestration, chances are good that all hands will go up. Most cloud architects have experience with the concept of orchestration through container orchestration systems, such as Kubernetes.
Orchestration is the automated coordination of computer systems, applications, and services. Like abstraction, orchestration helps cloud system designers more easily manage complex tasks that need to coordinate actions between systems, applications, and databases, at least as applied to IT architecture, including cloud architecture.
The reality is that orchestration is a much more powerful concept when it’s considered throughout a typical cloud architecture, specifically multicloud. We need to think more about building orchestrations and abstraction above the groupings of public cloud providers. Too often, orchestrations and abstractions exist only in the walled garden of a single cloud provider, which does nothing but make your multicloud more complex, since you have to orchestrate the orchestrations.
Automation. Everyone knows what automation is, right? Yes, we know the definition of the word but perhaps not what it means within the context of a cloud computing architecture. Automation is the process of looking at all systems and making them more efficient. The goal is to automate any manual or overly complicated processes so they can function autonomously, which, logically, should make them more efficient.
As it relates to cloud computing architecture, automation removes the need for humans. The fewer humans we need to run core processes, applications, and operations, the more fully optimized our cloud architecture solutions will be. We maximize the business value of the solution by maximizing the business benefit for the least amount of cost.
Although automation can also apply to traditional IT architecture automation, cloud architects often overlook automation opportunities. Many believe they already understand the definition, but they may not understand exactly how to leverage automation to improve single or multicloud solutions.
Abstraction, orchestration, and automation can help you tackle the complexities of today’s cloud computing architectures. Do yourself a favor. Learn more about them.
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