This is part three (cloud services) in a nine-part series introducing a framework for assessing multi-cloud use maturity. A comprehensive eBook on the framework can be found here. At the end of the blog, you’ll find a link to all other blogs in the series.
Competency area #2: Getting more from “aaS”
IaaS was the initial value proposition that drove the growth of the public cloud. Today, IaaS is simply the first step on a ladder of value that can be derived from the public cloud. As an example, AWS today lists 175 separate cloud services that they offer. These services provide application building blocks related to analytics, artificial intelligence, DevOps, containers, application management and IOT. It’s hard to do apple to apple comparisons between public cloud providers in terms of the number of services each offers since they each use a different approach to categorizing their services, but all hyper-scaler cloud vendors offer an extensive set of these services that can act as “for rent” application building blocks.
It may not be obvious but for most organizations, infrastructure is a relatively small part of the lifecycle costs of an application. While IaaS is a great on-ramp to the cloud, addressing it doesn’t represent the bulk of the value that can be achieved using a public cloud. Moving up the value ladder requires that an organization begin to leverage the extensive portfolio of cloud services that all hyper-scaler cloud providers deliver. Using these pre-built building blocks speeds up application development and reduces the scope of development that has to be done by an organization’s own resources.
Assessing your use of cloud services
Assessing maturity around the extent an organization is driving value through the consumption of non-IaaS services involves looking at how the organization is taking advantage of the massive amount of innovation being delivered by cloud providers and 3rd party ISVs in the form of cloud services. Below are categories of services that an organization will want to consider when assessing their maturity around getting the most value out their investment in the public cloud.
- Using Container or Kubernetes related Cloud Services
- Using IDE or CI/CD Cloud Services
- Using DaaS Cloud Services
- Using DBaaS Cloud Services
- Using AI, ML, and/or IOT Cloud Services
- Using Function, Serverless or similar Cloud Services
Instrument your apps and ops for insight
Beyond using cloud services to supply commoditized capabilities, an additional way to drive up the amount of value received from the public cloud is to leverage AI and ML technologies applied to the data you collect as part of your cloud operations. Organizations should set a goal of using this data to drive insights that the organization can monetize – either from existing customers, from new customers or through improvements in cloud operations that drive increased margin.
Cloud services are great – but be smart about their use
As you embrace the use of cloud services to speed application development and to reduce the burden on your own app dev resources keep in mind that use of non-IaaS services isn’t without some risk. Heavily leveraging these higher level services as building blocks from a 3rd party increases your dependency on that 3rd party. The more linkages you have to another cloud provider’s higher level services, the less portable your application becomes.
There is a set of strategies that organizations can use to mitigate these risks. Getting deeply into those strategies is beyond the scope of this blog but below is a summary of some the most useful approaches.
Core versus non-core functionality: Use more 3rd party cloud services in areas that are non-core and less in areas that are core. This way if you have to move your app to another cloud at some point, you’ll mostly be rebuilding non-core functionality which should be easier, less risky and lend itself to using less critical resources.
3rd party ISV versus cloud vendor specific cloud services: Vendor supplied are generally only useful on their platform. 3rd party ISV supplied cloud services often run on more than one platform
Open source versus Proprietary: Established Open source software with distributions available from multiple sources will generally be less risky to using cloud vendor specific offerings. Generally, this type of technology poses less vendor specific lock-in risk as they generally work across more than one vendor’s platform.
Even with the risk that using cloud services entails they value that their use delivers far outweighs the risk of using them. The main point is that while IaaS is a great start, if that is all you are doing your organization likely has a lot of opportunity to create additional value from the public cloud. The only caveat is to be smart and thoughtful about where and how you use cloud services.
Other blogs in this series
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