A New Hope: What the Cloud Journey and Star Wars Share in Common

  • October 19, 2021
Man and woman pointing at floating computer screens with star systems

Hello Star Wars fans. While this blog may not have much in common with the movie, it does reflect on a typical cloud journey any company might take and how the NTT DATA team has developed accelerators – turbo boosters, if you will – to speed time to value. This allows customers at all stages of their cloud journey to gain crucial time that they would otherwise spend developing solutions or finding skills in a competitive marketplace. While cloud can be complicated, our hope (hence the blog title) is that you’ll use this blog as a starter guide to move past circumstantial impediments and/or blockers.  


Where to begin? 

Cloud is not like a traditional data center deployments where you own everything from hat to boot. In the cloud, we are made aware of something called the shared responsibility model, a term made popular by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that breaks down the responsibility matrix of who owns which responsibility for cloud workloads. For example, the data center security around the entry and exit of personnel is AWS’s responsibility and the security of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances belongs to the customer.  


Beyond technology 

In addition to new technologies and processes, the cloud journey also requires a shift in mindset. This is because the true benefit of the cloud is not just through lifting and shifting workloads, but more importantly in: 

  • Rearchitecting - Retain the best features of the original application while removing unneeded functionality and taking full advantage of cloud-native benefits like security, scalability, and more that help you maximize operational and cost efficiencies. 

  • Replatforming - Up-version your workloads – by using a managed DB offering or adding automation enabled auto-scaling, for example – to benefit from cloud infrastructure. Replatforming takes advantage of containers and VMs, only changing application code when needed to use base platform services like Amazon ElastiCache, and advanced Amazon EC2 services like autoscaling and Elastic Load Balancing (ELB). This allows workloads to take advantage of base cloud functionality and cost optimization, without the level of resource commitment required for refactoring. 

  • Treating virtual machines as cattle, not pets. That is, virtual machines should be seen as interchangeable components of your system (cattle) rather than tenderly nurtured and individually named as if they were part of your family. By treating VMs as cattle, we are able to reduce risk by removing the opportunities for configuration drift, human error and more. Moreover, instead of hand crafting a service or application, decoupling the components allows you to easily replace with standard builds, rather than making updates, thereby growing system consistency. 

  • Managing to Capex vs Opex. With cloud-based automation, operators can closely monitor system use and demand, ensuring that you don’t pay for resources you don’t need. You can also use services like Amazon CloudWatch with auto scaling to save costs by only paying for resources when they are needed. (For further cost saving ideas, see our article: Seven Cloud Cost Optimization Resources.) 

With the right mindset established, teams need to build the following to support their cloud initiatives: 

  • Landing zone -- a secure environment of AWS accounts, organized through AWS Organizations  

  • A robust continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD) framework for managing Infrastructure as Code (IaC) 

  • Factories for creating pre-approved accounts, Amazon Machine Image bakery, IAM Roles and policies, etc.)   

  • A reliable and secure cloud networking foundation 

  • Connectivity with remote/branch/HQ/Colo offices (hybrid DNS and networking)  

  • Identity store or Active Directory integration 

While these elements may seem self-explanatory, they become complicated when deciding: 

  • How it will all be set up (and with speed) 

  • What security needs to be baked into the architecture and workloads 

  • How to make it repeatable and reliable  

  • Which tools to use to achieve desired results  

Find the right partner 

Serving at the forefront of cloud as it evolves, helping hundreds of clients navigate the ever-changing environment has given us a unique perspective of how to solve these challenges, tailoring best practices to unique business needs. We call these best practice solutions repeatable epics. By creating repeatable work in our scoping, we deliver value faster.   

Helping you get started faster, in the next article in this two-part series, we’ll delve deeper into how you can use the lessons from these repeatable epics to your advantage, getting started with cloud faster for more immediate value.  

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Gaurav Rastogi

Gaurav Rastogi is a Solutions Architect at NTT DATA. With more than twenty years of industry experience and AWS knowledge, he helps enterprises map their requirements to available technology, secure architecture patterns and workflows that address the complex integration of multiple services and third-party technologies on public cloud platforms. Rastogi possesses multiple AWS certifications.

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