Meta or microcloud architecture? You need both

As the person leading the cloud project, you’ve spent the past several years, during the pandemic and before, migrating most traditional on-premises applications to the public cloud. So far you have moved 15% of the applications and data.

Anyway, this is an impressive achievement. However, the focus of the board of directors is no longer on what has been achieved. Now they’ve called you for a meeting to discuss some of the decisions you’ve made along the way. Because a single cloud provider was ultimately the preferred cloud, the board wants to know why that provider’s solution was ‘always the right answer’.

Here’s a simple fact: one provider rarely has the best or optimal solution because you can’t take advantage of the best features of the other cloud providers’ native systems. Perhaps one has a better artificial intelligence platform, another is better at devops, and a third supports a compliance system that could have saved the company more than $500K in fines last year if it failed an audit.

What happened was also simple. You focused on cloud architecture in the narrow versus cloud architecture in the broad. In other words, you only hired people trained at one cloud provider. Now you have covered skills for that cloud provider, but you have missed opportunities to acquire skills for services native to the other cloud providers. Your staff probably doesn’t understand metacloud architecture. Nor do they have a firm grasp on broad- or multi-cloud cloud architecture, but they understand the narrow, single-cloud approach well.

It’s not entirely your fault; it has a lot to do with how we unconsciously trained ourselves to approach architecture.

The problem first came on my radar when some of the better cloud architects I know complained about having trouble finding gigs. They found that most enterprises focus on a single cloud platform and are looking for new hires certified in architecture, development, security, etc. on those specific platforms.

I’ve been advising people for years to get those scraps of paper if they want more money and/or a career switch. Given the market at the moment, people with AWS, Azure or GCP certifications will have a choice of jobs.

The problem is not with those who have knowledge of a single cloud provider. It’s the thinking a few years ago of those who steered cloud migration and development down this path in the first place. How can we expect a cloud architect with specific skills in a specific public cloud to take a broader view of potential solutions in other clouds that offer the opportunity to create much better and more cost-effective solutions? In other words, we’ve created “groupthink” around a single cloud platform that may have the most optimized solution 30% or 40% of the time. The other 60% to 70% of the time, you’re wasting money and adding risk.

Today, too many IT stores focus on microcloud architecture or solutions around a single cloud provider. We need to shift our focus to metacloud architecture and take a more holistic view of potential solutions, even considering traditional platforms and approaches. This includes all public and private clouds, on-premises solutions, and even the ability to leave some applications and data where they are.

Our lack of a broader view means we lose the opportunity to create truly optimized solutions using the best technology. The result is usually more cost, more risk and less flexibility down the line. Most in the C-suite will notice that impact. Ultimately, the board of directors will do the same. Good luck in that meeting.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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