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Helping you get the most out of the cloud. Chapter One: Architecture

Written by Airwalk Reply Senior Business Development Consultant Verity Fletcher

We all know the benefits of moving to the cloud - increased speed and agility, scalability, innovation enablement, increased security, and access to a multitude of products and services to improve efficiency. Public cloud has become one of the most fundamental enablers for technology transformation for both public and private sector organisations. Get it right, and it represents the foundation for everything you’re trying to achieve, for instance, making the most of your data, building more, and quickly, a range of compelling services for citizens and customers, being able to respond to changes of direction more nimbly, and delivering more, ideally for lower cost.  

The challenge, and the reality for most of the work that we do with our clients, is that achieving those benefits is not as straightforward as it first appears. We often see that many organisations measure digital transformation success on how much of their estate they have moved to the cloud. Whilst this has some merit, simply achieving a lift and shift of workloads, without changing how they are architected and managed, will not achieve the benefits organisations look for. This is especially true as they increase the scale of their cloud adoption. Too much focus is on the number of workloads moved to the cloud, and too little on processes and the operating model, and critically, on developing their people.  

To realise all the benefits that cloud offers, organisations can measure their current technological maturity using a cloud maturity model, of which there are many on the market. We’ve chosen the model designed by the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption because it’s one of the most comprehensive out there. It has 31 different lenses from which to view cloud maturity, from financial operations, compliance, governance, and delivery approach, to architecture, security, and engineering, but also including some more advanced capabilities such as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Internet of Things (IoT), or Artificial Intelligence (AI).  

We have yet to work with an organisation, either in the public or private sector, which is mature in all 31 areas, but the fact is that to achieve the benefits of the cloud, you need to be addressing as many of them as is possible. Luckily, there are some fundamentals that, if tackled early, will help make considerable progress on your journey to cloud maturity:  

  • Architecture 
  • Security 
  • Finance, Governance and Controls 
  • Skills and Delivery Structures 

We will be focusing on these key areas, highlighting what to avoid, and what to implement so that you can build solid foundations on which to expand and work toward extracting the full benefits of the cloud. To kick off, we will focus on Architecture. 


We see many organisations migrate to the cloud without looking at the bigger picture. Have they defined why they are adopting the cloud? Have they defined the outcomes they want and expect? Have they defined where adoption of the cloud makes sense, and where it does not? Or is adoption being driven by reacting to circumstances, for instance, a data-centre exit, or a service-support contract that has ended?  

The most common, and most limiting, stance we see is organisations architecting for cloud in the same way they do so for on-premises services. The outcome is that they are simply using a cloud-services provider as a data centre and will receive no other benefits that the cloud has to offer; they will only shift their current issues into a different place. 

We often see organisations using inconsistent standards across their IT estate. They have not considered how they want to use the cloud, and for which services, models, and types of workloads. Mature cloud architecture uses a pattern-based approach. By properly designing a pattern that is reusable and consumable, you can use it again and again without wasting time reinventing the wheel. This approach can help your teams adopt cloud by showing them the right way at the start, so that they do not have to solve the same problem repeatedly, with different platforms and technologies, often in a sub-optimal way. 

Another mature approach to the cloud is to embrace modern architectural principles by using automation, building security into the design, and moving towards componentised architecture, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and platforms. The more you practise this way of working, the greater consistency and efficiency you will achieve, not only in design, but also in delivery. When every service, and every team builds on what you have already put in place, you will incrementally improve project after project and drive significantly higher-quality outcomes.  

To ensure that you are getting it right, it is worth asking yourself the following:  

  • Do we have a roadmap for cloud adoption? 
  • What are the outcomes we want to achieve?  
  • Do we have the skills to deliver? 
  • Is there an appetite to change how we do things? 

The answers to those questions will unearth your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses for architecture in the cloud and will point you to where you need to make changes. 


Helping you get the most out of the Cloud. Chapter Two: Security Read more

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