From the COVID-19 pandemic to the oil crisis and rising global unemployment, 2020 has been a trying year for many businesses. Many of us have become digital nomads, working from remote locations and dependent on technology for the most basic tasks. While technology played a critical role in helping companies navigate through all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, it is natural to wonder what is next and how businesses will use IT to help them evolve and pivot moving forward.
With various challenges coming at them, many organizations are entering a “nomadic” phase, searching for an ideal and sustainable cloud foundation, especially with a more nomadic workforce and a more nomadic application stack. Many businesses will and have already made the tough decision to break up their status quo and move infrastructure to a new set of providers in hopes of tackling the array of challenges they face daily. But simply picking up and moving applications is not doable, which is why building infrastructure and applications to be “nomadic by design” is critical.
IT departments are under more pressure today than ever before to digitally transform entire companies. Customer engagement overwhelmingly takes place on the digital plane, with increased expectations in online experiences. Cloud-native technologies and applications – such as containers, stateless computing, ephemeral storage, business intelligence, artificial intelligence, edge computing, and machine learning – push the envelope towards a competitive and nomadic horizon. These technologies are also invaluable tools to maintaining productivity during the recent crisis, as I’ve outlined in my previous articles “How To Leverage Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning During A Pandemic” and “Rethinking Cloud Automation Amid Coronavirus Disruption.”
While organizations pursue cloud-native technologies, existing data and systems require heavy work to migrate and transform. Cloud, however, isn’t the only factor impacting IT strategy today. Cybersecurity is a dominant topic. Additionally, cloud costs, IT Talent, and compliance all weigh heavily on enterprises as well.
Technology practitioners prefer to do work on systems and platforms that fit the job at hand with the most benefits possible, making the flexibility of platform choice an equally big deal. Flexibility and autonomy are paramount to success, and the right cloud foundation can make those things as certain as possible.
Evaluating costs, streamlining infrastructure and operations, and strategic cloud use are all part of healthy and responsible cloud re-evaluation. If an organization is wholly bound to their data center or a single cloud provider, then the need for evaluation is even greater today, post-COVID-19.
Consumption As A Tool
Cloud technologies are strategic business tools that need to be refreshed and validated. But as was outlined in my most recent article, “The Dangers Of Cloud Sprawl: When There’s Too Much Cloud Going On,” the growing consumption of cloud technology demands attention from enterprises, as well.
Across the industry, cloud usage grows alongside the costs, so organizations move workloads from one vendor to another in pursuit of long-term, price-conscious relationships with their vendors. Although the technology may be there with a single vendor, businesses must balance costs, available skills, and risk to reach maximum efficiency and hybrid innovation.
Thus, cloud nomadic behaviors have emerged and become increasingly strategic for enterprises enabled by “stateless” technologies such as Kubernetes, stateless computing, and stateless networking.
Benefits of Being “Nomadic By Design”
Gartner reports indicate that 81% of public cloud users leverage two or more providers. Many reports pile industry figures in multi-cloud deployments of cloud-based services such as apps, repatriated technologies, or a strategically built hybrid cloud.
Yet, one challenge in a hybrid multi-cloud structured approach is the normalization of infrastructure and IT systems. For example, developers may incur additional problems when moving across platforms, as many tools may not operate well or at all in a multi-cloud environment. This is where “stateless” technologies come into play, enabling the nomadic cloud lifestyle:
- Containerization: Docker, Containerd, LXD, ECS, ACS
- Deployment: Terraform, Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, and SaltStack, PowerShell DSC, CloudFormation
- Automation: Jenkins, CircleCI, Bamboo, Travis, Drone, Azure DevOps Services
- Orchestration: Kubernetes, Nomad, Mesos, EKS, AKS
- Serveless: Lambda and Azure Functions, Stateless Networks
- Secret Management: Vault, CyberArk, Store, Conjur, BeyondTrust, KMS, Key Vault
- Container Registry: Docker Hub, Harbor, Quay, Artifactory, ECR, ACR
- Hybrid Platforms: Cloud Foundry, OpenShift, Elastic Beanstalk, OpenStack, VMware, Azure Stack, Anthos, CloudFoundry
Multi-clouds appeal to the strategic enterprise because the construct highlights next-level capabilities and risk posture. Multi-clouds – existing as a combination of public clouds, edge computing, and on-premises architecture – help spread workloads across providers, reducing cloud-bound outage risks. The business also benefits from the tactical advantage of having different “stateless” applications and service options in each component. Financially, an organization can also play off the pricing models of multiple providers when an advantage presents itself.
It is safe to project that in time most organizations will not depend on a single cloud. To meet the varying needs of an organization while driving towards the desired business outcome, designing applications to be nomadic will future proof applications and IT infrastructure.
Culled from Forbes, Piece put together by Emily Sayegh