140 million results are returned in 0.48 seconds when you search for cloud computing in a Google search. With that much information available, and that many conversations active around the globe, do we really know what cloud is? Are we confident in knowing what cloud can do? Can we explain why the cloud is changing everything?
If 10 people were asked what cloud computing is and why it is important, we would get at least 12 different answers. Where is the disconnect? We know leaders want it. CFOs support it. Strategists recommend it. Technical teams request it. Users demand it. Isn't cloud easy? Cloud is often associated with acceleration, cost control, added flexibility, increased agility, lower complexity, and rapid innovation. Cloud is never described as easy. It takes an incredible amount of work and planning to be simple. CIOs are stating that cloud skills are a top hiring priority in 2018. What do we need to stay relevant? How do we keep up with an industry that is changing every day?
Cloud computing is changing strategies and enabling innovation at every turn. Cloud is changing IT economics. Cloud is blurring the lines and breaking down traditional silos. Cloud is blending roles and redefining boundaries. Regardless of which industry we are in, or the position we hold, cloud computing is changing everything: how we work, how we play, and how we communicate.
This book is meant as a guide to help you sort through the noise related to cloud computing. We intend to help explain what cloud really is and how it affects strategy, economics, and technology simultaneously, and discuss how to stay professionally relevant through the tremendous changes occurring daily in our industry.
Our targeted audience is anyone involved in the cloud conversation. There are many people asking questions and many more trying to find and/or provide answers.
In designing this book, we've taken an agnostic view of the market. Digital transformation and cloud adoption have many paths. Just like any other journey, there are multiple ways to reach the destination, with some paths more optimal than others, depending on what is required for a successful outcome. Many books are extremely technical, detailing technology knobs and dials, configuration formulas, and technical tasks. Many books discuss various concepts for business and strategy. Our approach was to create a book that simultaneously aligns strategy, technology, and economics. Fundamentally, we believe these cannot be separated. Technically optimal solutions may not fit within economic goals. Strategy requirements may alter technical choices. Risk always needs to be offset by economics. We believe our industry needs a way to reference and apply these.
There are thousands of service providers in the market offering services out of tens of thousands of locations. Many of them have thousands of products with what seems like endless potential combinations The combinatorial effect of options equates to trillions of possible solutions available in the market today. How do we begin to sort through the data? How do we analyze a representative sample size to make a well informed, market-conscious decision?
In construction, it would be costly to finish half a building just to have a fatal flaw cause you to tear it down. The high cost of failure is astronomical. Not to mention the costly person-hours expended in the preliminary work needed to design, architect, and fund such a project. Cost is why every major modern design process today uses computer-aided design, which is particularly the case if the marketplace has a high cost of design coupled with a high-cost failure. Industries from computer chip design using Cadence to construction using Autodesk have evolved in this way. Can you imagine trying to develop computer chips using paper and pencil?
We see the same thing in the IT industry. IT today is all about hybrid platforms and cloud computing. Failure is very, very expensive. Going back to the construction idea mentioned previously, it is very cumbersome and expensive to have finished with 40 stories of a skyscraper and realize it must be torn down due to a fatal flaw in the foundation.
Today's market is rapidly changing, with new options, pricing, locations, concepts, and solutions appearing almost daily. The opportunities to identify, evaluate, and apply new solutions and strategies are endless. Today, we have limited data and no way to work in real time as we compare, optimize, and choose between options and strategies. The tools we use are usually manual, disconnected, expensive, and filled with stop and go serial-built processes. Working with limited data in a disconnected way makes it virtually impossible to make good decisions as the market has changed before we can act confidently. In a situation with little automation, limited data, and disconnected processes, it is impossible to align strategy, technology, and economics to move forward quickly. These challenges mean we need automation, connected ecosystems, and computer-aided design in our IT toolbox:
This book will teach a modern approach to IT solution design. In our design process, economic, technical, and strategic attributes must always align. Executives have always needed to balance economics, return, and risk. As executives modernize their thinking, they are having to blend deeper technical detail with the economic and strategic aspects. Solution designers and architects must also modernize their thinking by adding economics, risk, and strategy with technical detail to make high-value recommendations. Product managers updating skill sets and processes require the same level of strategic and economic prowess as they do technical. As solutions and answers to modern IT challenges are assembled, they must simultaneously align strategy, economics, and technology.
The examples in this book will use enterprise and mission goals to visualize, map, match, and compare solution design patterns modeled using modern computer-aided design platforms. Hybrid is not just a term to describe cloud solutions. It is also used to describe the modernization of skill sets required when architecting business, economic, technical, and risk strategies, new business models, and leading-edge technology solutions.
This book is not meant to be read front to back. Just like architecting strategy or architecting technical solutions, the journey can take different paths, with things of interest moving you in one direction or another. The examples in this book help the reader progress through architecting interactions in compounding layers. As choices, not decisions, are made, scenarios, insights, comparative analysis, and outcomes change. The examples in this book will show how multiple choices, and combinations of choices, can derive additional data, present unique insights, and identify optimal scenarios that simultaneously satisfy risk, economic, strategic, and technical requirements.
As discussed, architecting is done at many layers and levels. Our examples in this book will show how to do the following:
- Collect accurate real-time solution design data and analytics
- Leverage automation and high-speed solution design tools
- Update your skill set to include business fundamentals, economics, and risk management
- Rapidly model solutions, quickly interpret insights, and gain advantage through safe failures leading to success
A final important aspect of our approach is that we are looking at cloud computing with an architecting focus, not a solution design focus. It will often be stated throughout the book that successful architectures, not designs, must satisfy strategic, economic, and technical requirements simultaneously. Designs do not. The focus of this book is on cloud computing and the various architectures associated with it. There are many moving pieces and intertwining facets for successful cloud architectures. The design is one important part.