While consumers increasingly expect IT systems that deliver anytime, anywhere, enriched experiences, as well as competitive pricing, businesses of all types are hurrying to meet these demands, digitally. But to be truly digital, they must achieve IT capacity at scale, agility with speed, and innovation at a reduced cost.
Getting there means that underlying applications must be highly ambidextrous. And applications know only one language: code. That’s where the cloud can help, by becoming code unto itself. “Cloud-as-code” makes the cloud as fluid as possible, ensuring that cloud services can be easily consumed by applications with minimal human intervention.
Blueprints Package Cloud Resources through Code
Cloud-as-code is not a new concept. In fact, it’s part of a bigger umbrella known as infrastructure as code (IaC). As the synonym for infrastructure in the changed IT paradigm, the cloud provides levers to codify itself entirely. This stands in stark contrast to conventional “on-prem” environments, in which infra elements (i.e., bare metal servers, standalone storage, network switches and policies) cannot be seamlessly incorporated into code.
With cloud-as-code, activities such as manually accessing cloud portals, provisioning cloud resources, managing configuration drift, orchestrating changes etc., are things of the past. That’s because cloud-as-code makes extensive use of IT process automation and configuration management tools. And native tools are emerging from the big three cloud services providers – AWS CloudFormation, Azure Resource Manager and Google Cloud Deployment Manager – to aid IT organizations in their cloud-as-code journeys. Several third-party tools – Terraform, Chef, Puppet, Ansible and SaltStack – are also available to automate cloud operations. Using these tools, cloud resources can be made into blueprints that are typically administered by cloud admins.
Consuming Blueprints to Automate IT Operations
Once the cloud is codified into blueprints, services can be easily consumed by applications. By incorporating DevOps orchestration, cloud resources can be more easily provisioned and deprovisioned at will by the applications. An advantage of blueprints is that IT operational policies and controls can be orchestrated within themselves. For example, a monitoring agent can be pushed live, or the latest security fixes can be automatically applied.
These blueprints play a crucial role in “blue-green” and “immutable infrastructure;” the former enables daily code updates on mirrored systems that are switched on and off as new releases are available, and the latter is instrumental in creating new infra environments, dynamically.
Achieving a No-Ops State
But getting to cloud nirvana will also require serious application portfolio rationalization and planning. Enter serverless architectures, which are emerging as powerful IT infra game-changers. In fact, they offer a glimpse of the future, in which IT infrastructure will be completely invisible.
The diagram below depicts a roadmap in which cloud-enabled application modernization proceeds in a rigorous and industrialized fashion in parallel with the commoditization of cloud infrastructure, thus paving a digital highway to no-ops. This end state democratizes user access to IT services, while providing a robust platform for business innovation.
We recently helped a leading global pharmaceuticals and medical devices company to containerize its enterprise applications, while commoditizing the cloud with native cloud automation techniques. This enabled the company to accelerate the delivery of bug-free, cutting-edge business applications to its lab customers, which boosted its competitiveness.
Needless to say, collaboration between application and cloud teams is critical to achieving success in the emerging cloud-as-code world. The cloud team works to make the cloud invisible, while the application team embraces development techniques to consume cloud services seamlessly. The end result: Organizations unlock trapped value to deliver better business outcomes.
For more insight on our PoV around cloud-as-code, serverless architecture and no-ops, visit us at AWS re:Invent, Booth 1001, November 26-30, in Las Vegas.