While there is no question that supply chain issues have impacted businesses, they also offer an opportunity to prioritize your architecture roadmap.
In part one of this blog series, I discussed how supply chain issues have given us the gift of “bonus” time. If you still have budget, but you can't get any hardware to run your typical project cycle, what are you to do? Here are some more efforts that will make a competitive difference to your business both today and for years to come.
You might be thinking, “What do you mean?! Public cloud is easy, just give it a credit card and go!” Well, that is one possible approach (and where many or most start), but it is the least scalable and likely the least cost-efficient. It also sets you up for varying degrees of future problems.
Public cloud certainly is easy to consume; that is one of its hallmarks. It is fundamentally the same as if you were to build a new data center (or many), where you would likely spend a fair amount of time planning the build, from the facility (or facilities) you select, their geographic profile, physical access, environmental, rack and row layout, power, cooling—and this is all before you power on any devices! It requires design and policies for authentication and authorization, monitoring and alerting, asset tracking and inventory management, network infrastructure and connectivity, security policies and systems, etc. And you still haven’t spun up a disk or application!
Approaching the public cloud should absolutely require the same level of planning, though it often does not and grows organically instead. No matter where you are in your cloud journey, you should pause and ensure a defined and documented architecture that includes such things as how accounts and roles are provisioned, how VPCs are built and connected, what regions are in scope, and even robust IAM and access controls, monitoring and alerting, etc. Develop this first, then align your current state to the desired state, using these designs and principles to govern future efforts.
Proactively planning through the various design options and documenting the decisions that were reached facilitates standardization, optimizations for cost, performance, availability and scale, and ensures operational continuity that is not dependent solely on individuals.
Cloud is easy to consume, to be sure, but the work required to assure that your organization is leveraging the public cloud to best effect and responsibly takes methodical planning and ongoing effort, not just a credit card!
Finally, if you still have time to spare, take a few moments to document and quantify all the technical debt that you can think of in your company. There will likely be items on your list that can be addressed given time and money (though not requiring equipment). Now is that time! Take the opportunity to get some of those skeletons out of the closet and give them a proper burial.
This is not just good housekeeping, but often there is real and impactful value to be had in eliminating legacy constraints that may have been stinting improvements to systems or processes elsewhere, holding the whole environment back, making it more fragile or otherwise acting as a limiting factor. Eliminating some of this technical debt can raise your lowest common denominator, providing a better footing for future efforts.
What to Do with the Gift of Time?
The short answer is to take a breath and exhale. Coming from a long operational background, I know it can be intense for extended periods of time, and you often don't realize just how long and how hard you have been going.
The IT world has changed, and continues to change around us, and many or most are still doing things the way they have been done for the last 10-20 years. When things get boiled down to “all operations, no architecture,” atrophy sets in and brings with it a variety of problems:
- Slow time to market
- All manner of inefficiencies
What can you do? Take a bit of time to adjust and refocus your perspective away from triage and task lists. Take off your operations hat. Find and dust off your architecture hat and try it on. Think about all those things in the back of your mind that you know you should be doing and planning for, but haven’t had the time. Think about all the instances you have run across something and made a mental note of a better way to do it, or some addition or modification that would provide new capabilities or benefit to your business stakeholders.
Seize the day and seize the opportunity that has been given to you! Really, make lemonade out of this crazy and unprecedented situation we find ourselves in. Embrace it and make maximum use of the gift you have been given.