The Cloud and Me (chapter 2)
12th June 2020
By Omar Reid, Azure Technical Architect, CSI
Architects, don’t you just love them?
Cloud architects were typically seen as expensive individuals that most managers assumed didn’t do much else than draw and love the sound of their own voice in meetings. I, myself (now being a cloud architect) must have missed that gravy train, as I long for the days of being paid to simply draw up concepts and talk until the cows come home. Think about it, being paid to just draw using Visio or Lucidcharts and ramble on, trying to sound smart. Not letting on that I was clueless about what it was that I drew since I only googled it thirteen minutes ago.
I find myself grinning mischievously at my Lenovo E590 screen as I write this in Word, plotting whether this is still even possible in 2020… ha! That would be my dream!
My job as a cloud architect nowadays is to take a use case, or a problem statement, ask the questions anyone with common sense would ask. Lock myself into my laboratory and create. Create I tell you, create beautiful highly available, scalable cost-effective concepts and prototypes to fix the problem or match the use case as close as possible, all at the same time accomplishing this with an air of finesse.
The stark difference in what I design now compared to three years ago, I would even be as brave as to say six months ago in some cases, is that I now have freedom.
Freedom to use multiple different platforms to consume whatever it is I need.
I might deploy a virtual machine within Azure to handle web server functions. Use an AWS S3 bucket for blob storage. If I fancied it, I could even use GCPs PUB/SUB to respond to a new file being placed into the AWS S3 bucket and to automatically place the oldest file inside the bucket to a cooler storage type. Three or four years ago this would have probably caused mass hysteria. You used what to do what? Are you out of your mind Omar? The CTO would never ever approve of us doing that…
Now I am challenged with the questions, which platform offers us a better service agreement for that service? Or which platform is cheaper to store information as blob? These questions are becoming more prominent as the days go by and HDDs are being swapped out for SSDs in data centres.
An API in 2015/16 seemed like black magic to me.
I had many a conversation with developers, listening keenly to the knowledge they would bestow upon me. Coupled with me standing there like a three-year-old being taught Pythagorean theorem, attentively agreeing with everything being said with great intentions. A wide smile on my face, nodding with ferocity while all the beads of knowledge rolled past my brain and never sunk in. May I add that to this day I still don’t understand the rocket science that is figuring out the difference between two sides of a triangle?! Nowadays it is commonplace.
Engineers have little or no interest in logging into a portal and clicking away.
They want to be able to call an API that will go away and do its designated purpose. They want to be able to script almost everything that can be deployed within the ‘cloud sphere’. Simply, they just want to consume the service in the most efficient and most importantly, cost-effective way.
Businesses now want such complex automation, automation that to me causes wonderment and boggles my brain. At times when people bring automation requirements across my desk with the challenges it poses, I can feel the steam coming out my ears due to the amount of brain processing power required for me to figure how to get it done!
Sadly, as a human, I don’t have a purpose-built heatsink to cool my brain. Maybe one of these biotech companies will come up with a fix for that?
So, what does this mean for cloud architects in 2020 and the foreseeable future?
How does this translate into products and services MSPs can bestow upon their clients? How do customers benefit from all this combined and start to demand leveraged services?
Well, that’s where someone like me comes in. Cloud architects like myself who should be taking the utmost pride in their professionalism should now strive to stay on the cusp of cloud technologies.
Keeping an eye out for any advantages and savings that can be passed onto the establishments they work for in the hopes this trickles down to everyone within that companies reach.
Managed Service Providers, now more so than ever, have the opportunity to create products and services that allow clients to become more cloud-agnostic. Some of these products might even be licensable!
Some of these services could be turned into subscriptions and protected as intellectual property due to their nature. All of which are great ways to create better value propositions, keep your clients engaged, and finally drive innovation within a sector that is still calling for a front runner and leader.
Clients are now more educated than ever, more demanding than ever.
Most no longer just accept what is being put in front of them as the gospel and are pushing the boundaries of best practise. These customers are elite in my opinion. They push us as cloud architects. They push us as a company and a partner. As most of all, they push us as a collective into thinking, learning, and being innovative.