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Digital transformation finance, what you need to understand

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You can be forgiven for associating digital transformation and serverless with low cost. In actual fact, those who have experienced the benefits of a serverless mindset and approach know its value. Digital transformation finance involves the Total Cost of ownership (TCO). And completed via a serverless approach will save you money for a significant number of use cases.

Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash

Traditionally organizations spend a significant portion of their costs keeping their data centers and systems available, patched, secured, resilient, performing well, and operating effectively. The pendulum has swung with cloud and serverless emerging. More of the responsibilities have moved to the cloud provider. 

Digital transformation finance and AWS Lambda
Shared responsibility model for AWS Lambda

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/latest/security-overview-aws-lambda/the-shared-responsibility-model.html

Digital transformation finance – drives the pace of evolution

You can offload a portion of your code liability to the cloud provider by taking a serverless approach.

The cloud provider is constantly evolving its ecosystem and adding new features and capabilities that can be leveraged. It is easy to take advantage of these improvements with a serverless team.

You tap into an evolving ecosystem in step with customer needs and competition from other cloud providers. And the more abstracted you are from the ecosystem, the more complicated and costly digital transformation finance becomes.

Leveraging managed services

Most importantly, you are able to leverage AWS managed services and not write custom code:

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/lambda/latest/operatorguide/services-custom-code.html

CategoryAWS Service
ComputeAWS Lambda
Data storageAmazon S3
Amazon DynamoDB
Amazon RDS
APIAmazon API Gateway
Application IntegrationAmazon EventBridge
Amazon SNS
Amazon SQS
OrchestrationAWS Step Functions
Stream data and analyticsAmazon Kinesis Data Firehose
Common AWS services used instead of code

PatternAWS service
QueueAmazon SQS
Event busAmazon EventBridge
Publish/subscribe (fan-out)Amazon SNS
OrchestrationAWS Step Functions
APIAmazon API Gateway
Event streamsAmazon Kinesis
AWS Services used to implement patterns

The public cloud providers like AWS, Google or Azure are the best platform team for you if you enable your teams to use them.  You may need a platform capability depending on the size of your org. To lower the cognitive burden, and establish guardrails, good patterns and good practices for your product/customer aligned teams. You continuously evolve your stack to get the maximum serverless advantage out of your cloud provider.

The ephemeral nature of a serverless approach means that the whole solution is executed more often from scratch. This means that the code doesn’t get stagnant, doesn’t degrade and doesn’t fall behind in patches. And it can prevent a static security attack target. It takes advantage of any underlying improvements by the cloud provider. With good observability and CI/CD pipelines, you can quickly identify and fix any issues that present themselves. 

Finance digital transformation to remove liabilities

AWS announced Amazon API Gateway REST APIs integrates with Step Functions Synchronous Express Workflows. Serverless teams across the world were able to remove proxy lambda code between their API gateway and step functions express workflows.  This allowed them to remove a code liability, improve performance (no lambda to execute to perform the proxy capability), enhance their security posture (less code, less risk), lower the cognitive burden for their team (less moving parts and components to worry about) and cut down on lambda runtime execution costs. 

Developers are one of your organization’s highest costs; making them more effective is a massive cost-saving approach for digital transformation finance.

Meltdown and spectre vulnerabilities were announced. This led to IT organizations scrambling to patch their non-serverless solutions (EC2, AMI, on-prem, etc.). The non-differentiating work cost a significant amount of money. AWS patched lambda and Fargate at the time of the announcement. They avoided cost and stress. And spent that time delivering features and value that differentiated their business.

https://aws.amazon.com/security/security-bulletins/AWS-2018-013/

Updates to other AWS services

The following services required patching of EC2 instances managed on behalf of customers, have completed all work, and no customer action is required:

Fargate

Lambda

Unless otherwise discussed below, all other AWS services do not require customer action.

Processor Speculative Execution Research Disclosure

How much is this peace of mind worth to your organization? 

And how much would a security breach cost your organization?

A word about vendor lock-in.

I hear you cry: ‘what about vendor lock-in? With serverless, you’re locked in to the cloud provider ecosystem. What if they hike up the prices?’.

A quick glance at the Price Reduction | AWS News Blog shows the deep commitment and consistency of price drops across the AWS ecosystem going back many years.  AWS Leadership Principles and customer obsession means that I don’t see this trend changing.

What about switching costs?

If you are concerned about switching costs, please don’t be. I believe you can move well-architected serverless solutions to different cloud provider. And you incur less cost compared with architecting and running a “portable” abstracted, non-locked-in solution from scratch.  With a serverless approach, you maximize the amount of work not done, as Chris Munns tweeted.

True #serverless solutions will never be multi-cloud or hybrid. They'll never be platform agnostic.
True #serverless solutions will never be multi-cloud or hybrid. They’ll never be platform agnostic.

What’s the real point?

A well-architected serverless solution will save on digital transformation finance.

A serverless approach frees more of your organization resource to focus on improving time to value, delighting your customers with awesome features and capabilities. And platform-aligned teams can focus on new differentiated capabilities to enable your customer-facing teams. It helps you prevent the costs of future problems as the cloud provider is working on your behalf.

As with any complex distributed system, it needs the right expertise.

Takeaways

  1. A Well Architected Serverless Solution will save you money
  2. TCO is more important than raw compute costs
  3. Leverage Serverless and Managed Services for maximum benefit
  4. Lock yourself in to take advantage of the evolution of the cloud provider capabilities
  5. Development teams are your most significant Cost; optimize them for high performance.
  6. A Well Architected Serverless First mindset and approach will help you sleep better at night 🙂

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