Merging cloud frameworks for a sustainable digital transformation
In the last two decades, cloud technology has become an integral part of every organization’s transformation journey, enabling anytime-anywhere access to business-critical data and functions. There are numerous organizations providing cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS at varying scales. It is extremely difficult to compare and find a key differentiator among them.
While these similarities make it difficult to pick one of these solutions, the same set of similarities also provide a way to apply the same technological concepts across the landscape. The universalization of how you adopt cloud becomes even more important if the organization is embarking on a multi-cloud journey, which can be very chaotic.
This article focuses on two architectural services which are extremely important to drive cloud adoption the right way.
The first is Azure’s landing zone (part of Cloud Adoption Framework), and the second is the AWS Well Architected Framework (WAF). Now, while these frameworks are mostly relevant at different points in your cloud journey, they can complement each other and may be optimized and applied in hybrid multi-cloud landscapes.
While AWS also has a landing zone concept and simplifies the adoption of this framework through a solution called AWS Control Tower, I have found Azure’s to be more exhaustive in its coverage of organizational needs. Similarly, even though Azure has a Well Architected Framework, AWS WAF is better structured and easier to apply. Having said that, we can apply each of these frameworks on workloads across a multi-cloud landscape.
Embarking on a cloud journey can be very chaotic for the existing business technology landscape. Moreover, if the organization decided to adopt a multi-cloud approach, it is important to keep a set of guardrails to ensure everybody is focused. Azure landing zone and the AWS Well Architected Framework are relevant at different points in your cloud journey, but they can provide that focus while you drive the cloud adoption.
A scalable landing zone
The Azure landing zone is a cloud environment divided into multiple management realms called subscriptions (similar to GCP Projects and AWS Accounts) that provides scalability, security governance, networking and identity services to your technology landscape on the cloud. It starts with enabling application migration and modernization, continuing to drive innovation at an enterprise scale in the cloud environment.
The concept of a landing zone doesn't differentiate between IaaS or PaaS. Rather, it considers all resources that are required to host and support your IT workloads, pre-provisioned through infrastructure as code (IaC). The conceptual architecture diagram of a landing zone on the Azure website may be incorrectly perceived as an Azure workloads-only framework. However, the right set of cloud experts can translate this for any cloud environment you have.
The Azure landing zone represents scale and maturity driven by first-hand information, feedback and lessons learned from enterprises that have adopted Azure as part of their digital journey.
The landing zone architecture divides the overall cloud estate into two zones: platform landing zones and application landing zones.
The platform covers the subscription and accounts to host centralized transversal services such as networking and connectivity, identity management, and cloud control layer management. The consolidation of various services aims to provide efficiency, standardization and ease of operations. On the other hand, the application landing zones cover centrally managed business applications like SAP and CRM, technology platforms for federated applications, and various business workloads.
All landing zones are expected to be supported by transversal services like DevSecOps, IAM, and directory and role-based access control (RBAC). While the business needs or on-premises technical stack contribute to the diverse cloud roadmap and implementation for every customer, the landing zone architecture provides a direction for organization-wide cloud adoption.
Design, architect and reach for the cloud
The AWS Well Architected Framework (WAF) helps cloud experts like architects, developers and leaders build a secure, resilient, efficient and high-performing infrastructure for their business applications. The framework aims to provide a consistent approach to evaluating architectures and workloads. The best thing is that it also guides you to implement designs that evolve in-line with your business needs.
At the execution level, a WAF can be understood as a 6X6 concept, where six architecture pillars are organized in six layers. Overall, there are 320 best practices covered across 29 practice areas and 33 design principles. Let’s explore how each of the six pillars focuses on a different facet of highly scalable global application architecture:
Operational excellence: Focuses on monitoring systems, and continual improvement of processes and procedures through levers like automation, defined responses to events, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for daily operations.
Security: It protects confidentiality and integrity of systems, data and information by managing identities and access, and establishing controls to detect security events.
Reliability: It ensures workloads perform reliably to meet demands and recover quickly from failure through a distributed system design, detailed disaster recovery (DR) planning and adapting to changing business requirements.
Performance efficiency: This pillar zooms in on a structured and streamlined allocation of IT components. It drives the selection of the right cloud resource types and sizes, optimized for the business requirements by monitoring performance and maintaining efficiency as business needs evolve.
Cost optimization: To avoid unnecessary costs, selecting the right resources in the right quantity is critical while meeting the scalability needs of the business without overspending. This pillar focuses on democratizing the understanding of cloud spends over time and controlling fund allocation.
Sustainability: This is the newest pillar, which helps minimize the environmental impact of cloud operations. It provides guardrails to minimize resource consumption and reduce downstream impacts by establishing a shared responsibility model, understanding the impact on the environment, and maximizing resource utilization.
Combine. Complement. Optimize.
Both architecture frameworks can play a complementary role in your cloud journey from strategy to execution. One covers how you start the cloud journey, while the other ensures your cloud environment delivers the best possible results aligned with your business strategy at the lowest possible cost. You can maximize the cloud benefits through these frameworks by asking your cloud partners to assess the existing cloud workloads as early as possible in the product development lifecycle.
Whether you're an organization just starting your first workload on the cloud or trying to streamline a complex set of cloud workloads, landing zones and well-architected frameworks can help you achieve your business needs.