Defining the Journey—the Four Cloud Adoption Patterns

This is the second post in our series, “Network Operations and Security Professionals’ Guide to Managing Public Cloud Journeys”, which we will release as a white paper after we complete the draft and have some time for public feedback. You might want to start with our first post. Special thanks to Gigamon for licensing. As always, the content is being developed completely independently using our Totally Transparent Research methodology. Understanding Cloud Adoption Patterns Cloud adoption patterns represent the most common ways organizations move from traditional operations into cloud computing. They contain the hard lessons learned by those who went before. While every journey is distinct, hands-on projects and research have shown us a broad range of consistent experiences, which organizations can use to better manage their own projects. The patterns won’t tell you exactly which architectures and controls to put in place, but they can serve as a great resource to point you in the right general direction and help guide your decisions. Another way to think of cloud adoption patterns is as embodying the aggregate experiences of hundreds of organizations. To go back to our analogy of hiking up a mountain, it never hurts to ask the people who have already finished the trip what to look out for. Characteristics of Cloud Adoption Patterns We will get into more descriptive detail as we walk through each pattern, but we find this grid useful to define the key characteristics. Characteristics Developer Led Data Center Transformation Snap Migration Native New Build Size Medium/Large Large Medium/Large All (project-only for mid-large) Vertical All (minus financial and government) All, including Financial and Government Variable All Speed Fast then slow Slow (2-3 years or more) 18-24 months Fast as DevOps Risk High Low(er) High Variable Security Late Early Trailing Mid to late Network Ops Late Early Early to mid Late (developers manage) Tooling New + old when forced Culturally influenced; old + new Panic (a lot of old) New, unless culturally forced to old Budget Owner Project based/no one IT, Ops, Security IT or poorly defined Project-based, some security for shared services Size: The most common organization sizes. For example developer-led projects are rarely seen in small startups, because they can skip directly to native new builds, but common in large companies. Vertical: We see these patterns across all verticals, but in highly-regulated ones like financial services and government, certain patterns are less common due to tighter internal controls and compliance requirements. Speed: The overall velocity of the project, which often varies during the project lifetime. We’ll jump into theis more, but an example is developer-led, where initial setup and deployment are very fast, but then wrangling in central security and operational control can take years. Risk: This is an aggregate of risk to the organization and of project failure. For example in a snap migration everything tends to move faster than security and operations can keep up, which creates a high chance of configuration error. Security: When security is engaged and starts influencing the project. Network Ops: When network operations becomes engaged and starts influencing the project. While the security folks are used to being late to the party, since developers can build their own networks with a few API calls, this is often a new and unpleasant experience for networking professionals. Tooling: The kind of tooling used to support the project. “New” means new, cloud-native tools. “Old” means the tools you already run in your data centers. Budget Owner: Someone has to pay at some point. This is important because it represents potential impact on your budget, but also indicates who tends to have the most control over a project. Characteristics of Cloud Adoption Patterns In this section we will describe what the patterns look like, and identify some key risks. In our next section we will offer some top-line recommendations to improve your chances of success. One last point before we jump into the patterns themselves: while they focus on the overall experiences of an organization, patterns also apply at the project level, and an organization may experience multiple patterns at the same time. For example it isn’t unusual for a company with a “new to cloud” policy to also migrate existing resources over time as a long-term project. This places them in both the data center transformation and native new build patterns. Developer Led Mark was eating a mediocre lunch at his desk when a new “priority” ticket dropped into his network ops queue. “Huh, we haven’t heard from that team in a while… weird.” He set the microwaved leftovers to the side and clicked open the request… Request for firewall rule change: Allow port 3306 from IP Mission critical timeline. “What the ?!? That’s not one of our IPs?” Mark thought as he ran a lookup. “ You have GOT to be kidding me? We shouldn’t have anything up there. Mark fired off emails to his manager and the person who sent the ticket, but he had a bad feeling he was about to get dragged into the kind of mess that would seriously ruin his plans for the next few months. Developer-led projects are when a developer or team builds something in a cloud on their own, and central IT is then forced to support it. We sometimes call this “developer tethering”, because these often unsanctioned and/or uncoordinated projects anchor an organization to a cloud provider, and drag the rest of the organization in after them. These projects aren’t always against policy – this pattern is also common in mergers and acquisitions. This also isn’t necessarily a first step into the cloud overall – it can also be a project which pulls an enterprise into a new cloud provider, rather than their existing preferrred cloud provider. This creates a series of tough issues. To meet the definition of this pattern we assume you can’t just shut the project down, but actually need to support it. The project has been developed and deployed without the input of security or

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