Industrial cloud automation is key to safely deploy web apps
It is no longer news that very recently, a data center accident caused an outage for thousands of websites and the loss of their data. These types of exceptional disasters raise a lot of questions and concerns and bring up the discussion around cloud automation and the need for better information on cloud offerings and, what is known as the shared responsibility model that all cloud providers rely on.
And, of course, as it normally happens with this type of accident, there is always enough blame to go around. But I am not here today to place any blame or point any fingers. What’s done is done. Yes, the loss was great, but even the biggest catastrophes come with valuable lessons.
This is what I want to talk about today. What did we learn from this? And by we I mean literally everyone in the industry—vendors, decision-makers, and users alike.
Whose responsibility is the cloud?
There is no doubt that the cloud has driven digital transformation and its benefits are reaped by companies around the globe. But does this mean that the cloud is risk-free? Definitely not. And the real question is, ultimately, who’s responsible for making sure all risks are carefully weighed, and establishing remediation and recovery processes in case the unthinkable happens?
Vendors must always aim to provide the best possible solution to the customer, be transparent, and advise customers on cloud best practices. But this is not always the case. And enterprises are sometimes reluctant to invest in the right level of security and safety for their infrastructure—“It’s too complicated… We don’t have time for this… We need to be online in a week…” —all good reasons to make the wrong decision.
As most cloud offerings start at a very basic/cheap level, decision-makers are attracted to choose an average level of security and safety (if any) in order to favor horsepower for their websites. The lack of time and knowledge leads them to take risks they don’t even know about.
That’s why the industry needs cloud providers to take the quality and coverage of their offerings one step further. Pushed by the customers’ needs to do more things and do it faster, enterprises face a difficult choice surrounded by solutions they don’t always understand.
The cloud era
We’ve been hearing about cloud for the past ten years, and what was a marketing idea slowly became reality. Cloud has now turned into a mature technology ready to provide IT resources on demand. But we’re still at the very beginning of the cloud era. And we can compare cloud technology with the birth of the car industry.
In the late 1800, the invention of the gasoline engine completely changed our world. All of a sudden, a self-sufficient engine could provide power on demand. The first car and truck manufacturers were small shops building each product by hand, on top of this marvelous engine. And these engines were rapidly industrialized. But cars, the final product needed by the market, were still hand-crafted around the chosen engine.
It took half a century to industrialize the processes. Cars became more and more complex as layers of features were added to the first basic models. Security, safety, control, and additional features were added at a fast pace as consumers kept asking for more.
Today cloud is that engine. It’s industrialized, ready for mass production, but it is just the engine of the car we need.
As we master this critical piece, we now need to build all the required features on top of it. Security, scalability, performance, alerting, traceability, disaster, and recovery—these are some of the layers that need to be added to the engine to build a proper car. And these fall today into the hands of internal resources or hand-crafting providers. Major cloud vendors provide more and more industrialized parts (i.e. their managed services) but building the car is still the responsibility of IT departments.
We need to go one step further and start industrializing the building of the car itself. We need to go from the Ford factory of 1920 to the fully automated Toyota factory of 2000.
Industrializing the cloud—why is cloud automation the key?
Cloud users are starting to realize that Cloud automation is the key and there is a real need for industrialized Platforms.
Let’s look at the car example again and think back to the old days of the car industry when cars had to be built manually by workers, trying to make them look the same, implement the same features, safeties, etc. Now compare this to the contemporary car industry where everything is built by robots in the exact same way, to the exact specifications of the manufacturer, and then thoroughly checked by independent authorities. Safety here is no longer being jeopardized by potential human errors or bad design.
This is what the cloud needs and this is what companies like Artifakt offer.
Because the internet is more and more complex and demanding, because technologies are evolving at a pace never seen before, companies can’t keep up with all the details and features they need in order to achieve their goals. That’s why they need complete and understandable blueprints that they can review and then rely on.
This is what Artifakt was built to do—we select the best cloud providers in terms of security, safety, and performance, and we provide the blueprint you can use to safely deploy your web applications. Security and safety are not optional, they’re built-in! And everything is both certified and open to audit.
This is the next step in our cloud journey. All the parts are there, we now need industrial platform manufacturers.
Companies like Heroku, Platform.sh, and Artifakt were created to take that next step. As this market evolves, there will be more offerings, each with its flavors, pros and cons. And I can make the educated guess that all of them will integrate the security and safety features that you need. Whether you prefer a BMW X3 or a Fiat 500, a set of common basic features will be integrated into the car you choose.
But at the end of the day, the choice and the responsibility that comes with it is still yours entirely.
Your applications need your attention
Going back to my point about responsibility and ownership, I do believe that the complexity of cloud technologies needs to be carefully considered when choosing where to start. It’s up to you to build a team of engineers and let them build on top of a basic cloud vendor or to pick a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that will deliver ready-made “cars”, carefully designed to deliver the right level of performance and security each application requires.
Looking at the price as the main incentive can be dangerous. There is no magic here, nothing is done in a secret, magical way that would get you the same level of quality and safety for a fraction of the price. Your applications need your attention, careful auditing of where you want to run them, and a proper budget. Then and only then, the cloud will keep its promises.
This technology is evolving quickly and it’s running our businesses—invest wisely!
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