Keeping your head about the Cloud

Man walks toward a ledge with long neck in clouds

The cloud is a lot of things. It’s fast, it’s useful, it has features that you could never implement in your own data center but it’s not a free for all. You will only be as successful in your cloud venture as the effort you put into it. I’ve been through many projects this year and working with many different groups to clear up misconceptions and really bad designs in the cloud. I wanted to throw something out there to encourage you and give you advice on what I’ve learned.

  1. Get ready to work with your team mates, if you don’t like working with your team mates its time to get good or get out. The cloud as an extended environment requires that you work with all kinds of stakeholders in your company to extend the environment, policies and procedures that you may already have.
  2. If people claim you are holding them back, make sure they can account for those statements. Where you brought in too late to the project? Did they give you requirements that didn’t line up with company policy. Perhaps they didn’t want to work with you at all. I’ve seen many see the cloud as a cowboy show, but it’s not. It’s an extension of your environment and requires full teams of people working together.
  3. Be an agent of change and work to unite people. Invite people to meetings and get their insights, work with them to try and understand their perspective. DevOps demands a separation of duties between developers and operations, but also requires that they work closely together.
  4. Set reasonable expectations. Many are excited to start working in Azure. There are a lot of good things about it like less of a reliance on infrastructure and services and platforms as services. Try to be positive about it though, there will be freedoms in frames, there will however be frames much like there are today and the type of company you work for will dictate those frames.
  5. Backup your data, your data is yours. Don’t ever depend on anyone else to be responsible for your data. If you’re using Office 365 there are tools for version control etc, but it is not a backup service and going through Microsoft support to get files back can be painful. This is a critical job that I don’t think you can turn a blind eye to, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of saying everything is backed up in the cloud. It’s not to the degree that you care for your own data.
  6. Make sure your network team and all teams for that matter (infrastructure, developers, network teams, security teams, whoever else) has a seat at the table. It’s important that everything connects well and extend properly in the cloud. This will take some work and discussion and planning.

My last point is one that should be so simple, but often skipped in the world of doers. Plan, plan, PLAN. You are ending a sandbox world where infrastructure and services are provided but the rules are by default pretty wild west. Make sure to establish some order and extend the policies and procedures that work well for you, and get rid of the ones that are cumbersome, but establish that order right away, learn the language, step into the developer world if you’re infrastructure and learn what they do. Accept that you might fail at first, but get up and try something else. Talk to everyone that’s taken this journey. I’ve talked to Microsoft TAM’s, developer consultants, networking people etc etc. I consider these people my mentors in this field and soon you will be someone’s mentor too.

Last but not least enjoy the ride, create something cool…learn what you can do with these new technologies.

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