Companies, irrespective of industry vertical or size, have understood that an essential component of business transformation is moving to the cloud.
Progressive enterprises use cloud-based digital technologies in innovative ways to leverage data and analytics and this had led to demonstrable improvement in business outcomes.
While the advantage of cloud computing is quite clear, the point remains that not all cloud platforms are the same.
Less than 20 percent of cloud value can be captured with a traditional approach to cloud transformation. The remaining 80 percent can only be unlocked by embracing a hybrid platform operating model.
Hybrid cloud platforms, which seamlessly combine public and private clouds into a single environment, help companies to align their business transformation with the orchestration of their cloud platform to deliver a next-generation agile business model.
While the business case and advantage of a hybrid cloud model are clear, building one that caters to the specific needs of companies requires considerable planning and skill.
A traditional operating model no longer works in this environment and CIOs need to develop a platform engineering approach as this can ensure an application development framework that can run seamlessly across multiple clouds with varied workloads.
Platform engineering teams build tooling and infrastructure that increases engineering productivity within the organisation. Another advantage of having such a team is that there is a clear understanding of whose responsibility it is to maintain the infrastructure.
A platform approach plays a unifying role with a comprehensive orchestration capability that allows enterprises to harness the full capability of the hybrid cloud model to improve business and operational performance.
Centre of excellence
In progressive enterprises, platform engineering teams are aligned under a cloud centre of excellence (COE) and perform a consultative role for internal cloud service consumers.
This solves the problem faced by many software engineers who struggle to get their on-prem code onto a cloud platform because in a traditional environment they need to manually create and configure repositories and manage infrastructure components.
Platform engineering teams plan, design and also manage the cloud network and this allows other IT professionals to deploy code and applications in a safe, secure and efficient manner.
In order to increase collaboration between various development teams (the software engineers, for example) and operations teams who maintain the cloud infrastructure, platform engineering uses a DevOps approach that ensures automation and repeatability of processes.
DevOps covers the end-to-end software delivery lifecycle including an expanded set of stakeholders such as business owners and end-users and practices such as design thinking and user analytics.
Importance of DevOps
DevOps allows disparate teams to work together on common business objectives and this helps organisations respond to the challenges of multi-speed IT in combination with methods such as the Scaled Agile Framework environment (SAFe) to facilitate collaboration.
Within DevOps, GitOps, which is an operational framework that helps in infrastructure automation, is the core to enabling repeatable consistency in service provisioning.
The main component of this framework is IaC which encapsulates the guidelines and policies established by the COE as code, namely config-as-code, policy-as-code, security-as-code, and ops-as-code.
These components can be used to orchestrate provisioning and the GitOps framework ensures the approved version of code and configuration are used to enable consistency and adherence to the COE guidelines.
Application security is essential and needs to be integrated early and throughout the DevOps lifecycle to keep pace with frequent releases and not be a bottleneck.
DevSecOps (security-as-code and policy-as-code) is the concept for integrating application security testing within a DevOps environment. SecOps contain all the required tools and security logs with configuration-driven thresholds for alerting security incidents.
This provides the capabilities required to track and configure changes to the running services to detect anomalies.
Continuous delivery is the desired future state achieved with the application of a DevOps approach. AIOps or ops-as-code provides the suitable templates and tools embedded and configured during deployment.
These feed in all the logs to the AIOps engine to ensure observability aspects are considered for cloud services.
There is also FinOps which focuses on financial operational capability that many enterprises overlook. FinOps helps organisations optimise their IT resources to enable better cost control and reduce unutilized resources.
Immutable infrastructure is another key aspect of adopting cloud and, again, this can be achieved only through a platform operating model.
In order to achieve a platform operating model, organisations should focus on creating a CI/CD pipeline for cloud service delivery that will codify the infrastructure and cloud provisioning.
This pipeline will also ensure adherence to the organisation’s guidelines for security and observability through IaC, config-as-code and infra-as-code.
The tools used in the pipeline should have the ability to perform static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) to identify vulnerabilities in the IaC and assist in hardening the code thus providing high levels of security and compliance for delivering cloud services.
Once the code is hardened and certified, the developers can use this to provision immutable cloud services. After the infrastructure is provisioned, tools like Nordcloud clarity can be used to track and forecast the utilisation of resources and help keep the operating costs optimized.
Tools like Instana, Turbonomic and Watson AIops help with analysing logs for anomalies and helps correlate log information to reduce noise and enable automation.
Cloud adoption brings in new business models that are required and adopted through continuous monitoring of utilisation and data-related charges to ensure that the organisation is not over-subscribing and will ensure optimal utilisation of cloud services.
The reality of building and supporting a diverse use cloud is challenging and a DevOps-driven platform engineering approach delivers many immediate benefits, including a short time to value, faster iterations to develop new capabilities and shifting of risk.
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