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The Second Cloud Transformation

Many people are talking about what happens when you get to the cloud. People have moved to the cloud. They are in AWS. What happens next? We call this the second cloud transformation. 

The Second Cloud Transformation

Situational awareness and landscape

Typically, you follow one pattern when moving stuff into the cloud. With MVC, you have a container for services, UIUX, and a persistence tier with a database. There are defined ways to solve it.The vast majority of services and capabilities available in the cloud follow a different pattern. You look at other ways to benefit from the cloud and maximize cloud capabilities for the business. Are you anticipating what will happen five years down the line?When you get into the second phase of the flywheel, it’s looking at how to take advantage of it.  And how to assess situational awareness and landscape. That is why things like Wardley maps are so good.

Making space for innovation

If you lift and shift into the cloud, you still have operations like patching your servers.  Or you’ve decided on the technology you’ve brought across and what prevents you from doing that.We talk about making space for innovation. You should move from this to this because you must be able to start with that degree of challenge. But to do that, you’ve got to do certain things like skill up and make decisions. It can be a surprise for organizations that work in traditional ways.And it can be debilitating for people. They move to the cloud, and then many options are available. They need to figure out where to start looking. And they don’t know how to proceed. They’re almost fearful of making the wrong decision, adopting lousy technology, or taking the wrong turn because it is all new. And they need to find out what good looks like. 

Stuck with an on-premise frame of reference

Their frame of reference is all on-premise, like big data centers or mainframe stuff. So this new paradigm needs to be clarified. What does a good cloud solution look like? Or what’s an exemplary implementation for your context?People need to climb a learning curve to become more comfortable.  To find where the ‘next best action’ is and how to proceed to do it. The well-architected framework can give you some guidance. And the questions you need to ask about your org and your solution in the cloud. 

We’ve all been guilty of it in the past. You are on-prem, and you move your workloads into the cloud. But you still map your existing org like ops, DevOps, or ops teams provisioning things similarly. You have yet to embrace a large part of the cloud.You’re just renting a beautiful data center. It’s interesting because someone had to buy the computer when you were on-prem. Or someone had to decide which computer to purchase and agree with a vendor to buy Microsoft or IBM. Somebody made decisions for you. And someone decided this is the framework you’re going to use.  You used to be very constrained.

The Second Cloud Transformation on The Serverless Edge
Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Moving to the cloud and measuring data

But now, someone can say we’re going to use AWS. And if you are not on top of it, you will face many services. You will have a massive choice. And a lot of the time, people need to figure out what to pick.When companies move to the cloud, it’s usually part of a transformation. But we call it ‘The Second Transformation’ because there’s another step change.The best person I heard describe this is Shaun Braun from 3M. He did a keynote at AWS re: Invent in 2021. He talked about people moving to the cloud and measuring data. And then they transform. It was a great way of describing it. We shift and then measure loads of observability. And then you start shutting things down and redoing other things. That’s when the actual transformation occurs. And you get value driven.   

You have richer telemetry and observability options when you’re in the cloud. You start to see what things cost. Your dollars, metrics, and traces become apparent. And with a little effort, you can extract the data and begin to see your performance. You have more telemetry and performance insights for your solution that you may not have had in your on-prem solution. 

Orgs are struggling because they need to modernize infrastructure.

We have a focus on enterprise serverless. And the type of workloads that come with modern applications. Enterprises and people from mature companies need help.  They are in the cloud but need help with account creation, observability, security, or how to deploy or provision things. There are infrastructure things that they still need to do because they still need to modernize. If you want to install an agent on the lambdas and your CISO says no, you must educate your security team.There are a lot of good techniques that you can bring to bear on that. We discuss how Northstar and Threat Modelling can facilitate conversations with those groups. It demystifies and helps you have a common language with InfoSec and your CISO. It’s a great way to remove barriers and identify the threat we want to mitigate.

You need to go back to first principles.

It’s a paradigm shift. Sometimes the move to the cloud happens quickly. Engineers may have focused on other things and must return to first principles. To rethink how the software capabilities work. They measure that by asking: ‘What does good look like?’. And one answer is speed and throughput. You often see things come up because they block rate or throughput. So you need to move away from the big upfront designs. And shift design, decision-making, and architectural decision-making onto the teams because they’re the ones who know the business problem and business aims best. They need to be making those decisions. But they need to get used to making those types of architectural choices.

Others made decisions on-prem many years before teams were writing any code. But now they have cloud options available.So the education and empowerment of teams to shift left is significant. Have you enabled them? And have you given them learning resources and a pace to assess options and make good design decisions? That’s a vital part of the transformation. You need to enable high-performance teams. And you can’t do that by making all the decisions for them. You have got to be able to let them make their own decisions based on their context.

Encourage experimentation  

Safe space is a big thing—situational awareness and creating a safe environment for the organization. Because teams will make mistakes, you have got to encourage experimentation securely. A good enabler for that is thinking about and setting up policies for the services you want to start leveraging out of the box, with safety mechanisms built into your SCP and procedures in your AWS config. With those in place, it’s easier to bring people along to shape things where they should be. We call those enabling constraints. Can you give developers and teams a fast feedback loop to show you’re on the right path? And here’s some feedback if you have strayed off the path to demystify it.

The organizational setup, the SEP policies, the configures, and things like CFN lint and CFN nag give you better competence.  And give the team confidence that they’re doing everything correctly. That feedback is a natural gift for teams, especially if you’re new to the cloud.  Here are commodity good practices codified to guide you to a good cloud solution.

You need an honest assessment of your capabilities  

In the second phase of The Value Flywheel Effect, you map out your capability. So you do need to have an honest review of the abilities you have and the teams in the organization.  Because the engineers need to understand security. At least then, you know you’ve got to level people up. ‘Shift left’ is an excellent mechanism because your teams have to do more, and there will be gaps. In some ways, that second transformation is filling those gaps. And you end up with well-rounded teams.

What does good look like?

We talk about asking the question: ‘What does good look like?’ One of the best books to answer that question is ‘Accelerate’ by Nicole Forsgren. It’s a brilliant book.  If anybody still needs to read it, buy a copy because it’s a cracking book.The book has four critical metrics for building and scaling high-performance technology organizations. It’s the throughput and stability to deliver fast in a stable manner.  There is a concept of elite teams that deploy on demand. That’s a great measure to look at. How many times do you deploy?  A couple of times per year, per month, per week, or in a day? Or on demand?The four key metrics have gotten a lot of press. So it’s worth reading the whole book. And not just the back cover!

You can rely on proven industry practices.

The best thing about this, and the whole reason for talking about it in this episode, is that the second transformation is an excellent way to gauge how far you’ve got. Just look at some of the practices in that book. It’s a game-changer. Because it gives the people who want to pursue this improvement and transformation the support and a proven path to what good can look like. So you’re not fighting battles alone or based on a gut feeling.  You have honest, proven industry practices that you can lean on. We find it very beneficial in our journey.Another go-to book for this topic is ‘Reaching Cloud Velocity,’ by Jonathan Allen. How to spin up new teams and the mitosis approach? It’s an excellent reference, similar to ‘Accelerate.’And we reference both those books in our book ‘The Value Flywheel Effect‘.

So that’s our episode on the second cloud transformation. When you get into the cloud, you need to enable fundamental transformation! What we are calling the second cloud transformation.Visit the blog on Follow us on Twitter @ServerlessEdge and subscribe to the Serverless Craic on YouTube. And order ‘The Value Flywheel Effect‘ book. 

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