How to get public cloud right first time and achieve hyperscale greatness

Mark Stancombe-Duhm is hyperscaler practice lead at Adapt.


Public cloud is increasingly attractive because of its scale, global reach, agility and efficiency, making it the optimal deployment option for a growing number of workloads, applications and business solutions.

But what businesses gain in terms of flexibility could come back to haunt them in other ways, in terms of overall cost, durability, security and supportability as the solution matures.

Getting the right people

Even if the business is notionally ready for hyperscale, organisations still have to address the issue of trying to find the right people to support their move into the public cloud. Creating environments and instances in the public cloud may be simple but finding the right people to create secure, highly available, integrated and well-supported software solutions is not.

The temptation is to assume an organisation’s existing IT team will be able to handle any hyperscale transformation and ongoing management, but it’s not always as straightforward as it says on the tin. It can be hard to keep skills relevant when the capabilities and services offered by hyperscalers change constantly with over 1000 updates/ features released a year. In addition, those skills are in high demand and attract premium salaries so businesses are frequently at risk of having their talent poached by rivals. There’s also a danger that the skills of the people who develop the solutions are misapplied to ongoing support afterwards.

Getting enough people

Even if businesses have the right people and skills, the other question they need to ask is do they have enough of them? Hyperscale does not sit easily alongside the traditional model of a static technical workforce with siloed specialisms. Instead, organisations may need to introduce lightweight, flatter structures and processes that favour collaboration and cross functional working. These are better suited to a DevOps approach, which goes hand in hand with hyperscale. With technical resources tuned to support the business in an increasingly fluid way, the most effective teams are frequently multi-discipline.

Getting them in the right place

Businesses need to be sure that, like their applications and workloads, their valuable people resources are also in the most appropriate ‘execution venue’ for their skillsets. Internal expertise should not be diluted by ongoing infrastructure management when they are better suited to drive innovation that creates competitive edge or enhances the customer experience.

Getting a managed cloud service

The promise of hyperscale is undoubtedly extremely compelling, but many businesses find their ambitions thwarted by issues such as a lack of budget, time, technical skills, resources, confidence or vision.

A managed cloud provider (MCP) can help businesses to bypass the requirement to create and manage an internal talent pool, reduce the expense and overhead of providing ongoing training, monitoring, alerting, authentication, backup and restore. The MCP can also provide best practice architectures to accelerate solution development along with the skills and insight to enhance custom development.

MCPs can be especially valuable where tools and automation processes are complex, deep expertise relatively scarce and the price of management failure (typically around solution durability and cost control) high and well documented.

Obligatory analogy

To use a building analogy, even with limited DIY skills, it is relatively easy to construct a garden shed (your quick-start hyperscale solution), or transfer an existing one from a neighbour’s garden (think technical lift and shift). The structure can then be used to hold gardening tools and the lawnmower (read application code and data).

Sheds are useful and fulfill a temporary or ‘good enough’ requirement for contents not important enough to merit their own space in the house. When it comes to building something long lasting or habitable, most people would probably consider engaging an estate agent or an architect and builder to deliver a home with running water, electricity (monitoring and alerting), a number of separate rooms and a hall for welcoming visitors (semi-segregated areas for security).

Very few people would consider designing and building a house on their own – most don’t want to source, contract and manage all the different professionals, trades and suppliers involved.  Instead, engaging an expert third party who has all the necessary technical qualifications and experience ensures things are put together correctly and operate efficiently.

It may be a laboured analogy – and it’s probably also a renter’s market – but the fact is that public cloud is becoming a more and more viable option for an increasing number of scenarios – and an increasing number of businesses are moving their entire digital footprint into hyperscale. So for organisations trying to work out why their shed can’t be more like a permanent residence, it might be time to call in the professionals – think about the real-world impact of that leaky tap.

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