Streamline the development of your Cloud Operating Model in Azure
Justin Campbell, CTO and Co-Founder, Junkshon
Building a cloud operating model can be a complicated task, requiring you to organise people, processes and technology. When migrating to the cloud, this part of the programme is often overlooked, with the result that most customers do not get the maximum benefit from their cloud investments.
At junkshon, we seek to find new ways to explain and develop solutions that a customer can grow into rather than having to employ a big bang approach.
In this article, I will provide an overview of how I see the functional building blocks of a cloud operating model, and outline a potentially different approach, enabling teams with a platform to develop their automation apps, workflows and BOTs.
Cloud Operating Model
When looking at the cloud operating model, I think about it in the following four building blocks:
Ensuring practices ensure teams manage their cloud costs in the best possible way. Essential capabilities of FinOps include:
· understanding the fully-loaded costs
· benchmark performance
· provide data for real-time decision making
· optimise usage
· optimise rates
· align plans to the business
2. Cloud Operations
This is the part of the operating model that focuses on infrastructure and platform management, including monitoring the cloud services, managing operational processes including improvements and developing automation for operational tasks.
This part of the cloud organisation provides consulting services to assist in the smooth delivery of applications from initial concept to deployment to production. DevOps teams should be focused on ensuring the continuous delivery of tools and toolchains to support the end-to-end implementation and automation of application deployments.
4. IoT/Edge Ops
Managing IoT and Edge operations is becoming increasingly important, with more connected devices including, factories, cars and retail distribution centres. Edge operations should not replace cloud operations but rather extend the capability to deal with high frequency streamed data that needs specific infrastructure and platform services to support these applications.
Cloud Operations Platform
What each part of the cloud operating model has in common is several key requirements to allow it to work effectively. These include:
Common Data Pools
Ability to communicate with loosely coupled components inside the cloud
To deliver those essential requirements, I have been exploring what can be developed on top of the existing cloud platform, taking advantage of low-code tools, workflow solutions and virtual agents and connecting them up to our junkshon platform.
Microsoft has some options to allow you to build cloud operations apps using its Power App platform.
During my research, I built a series of MVPs for automating everyday cloud operations tasks using Power App Automate workflows and virtual agents. The use cases I created included:
Application status performance updates
Invoking application build requests
Interacting with incident management systems
Checking the status of critical services and using workflows to remediate issues
I have worked with many different service delivery solutions, and my experience has been that you end up buying a tool for run book automation or status reporting. In many cases, these solutions do not quite meet all your needs, and you have a gap in your process tooling.
In addition, you end up having to run a tools team that becomes a bottleneck for any potential change requests to update the tooling workflows. I have seen this situation time and again in large enterprise clients, where the backlog of work for the tools team increases in size but the budget of the team does not match demand.
Microsoft’s Power Platform provides a useful toolbox of code and low-code solutions for building operational applications, workflows and virtual agents that can interact with the Azure cloud, external API and existing data stores, including our junkshon platform.
The potential benefits include providing a platform that allows everyone in the cloud delivery model to build their specific operational applications, workflows and automation bots.
However, when taking this approach to building a Cloud Operations Apps Centre of Excellence, you don't want to end up with app sprawl and security issues. It’s therefore vital to view this as an enablement capability to help staff build applications securely and ensure they are trained correctly to build and deploy apps to support the operational running of your cloud, rather than a central team to write apps.
So why would you take this approach? There are many benefits, but some of the key ones are:
Providing staff with the ability to improve their own personal and team operational workflows
Reduce cost in terms of buying more tools where you are only utilising them 50% in terms of features because they do not meet your needs
Low code tools let you build quickly to solve real business and operational problems faster
If you are interested in knowing more about building power apps for cloud delivery on your Azure cloud, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. At junkshon, we have many cloud strategy/assessment/enablement packages that include a focus on operational delivery models.