Cloud computing has been one of the enduring success stories of the 21st-century tech boom. Companies of all sizes and across all industry verticals now rely on cloud infrastructure for day-to-day operations and to provide services to their customers.
According to a recent study by Fortune Business Insights, a research firm focused on tech, the global cloud computing market will be worth $2,432.87 billion by 2030. Investments in cloud migrations and cloud infrastructure are even set to survive the post-Covid downturn and recession. Separate figures from Gartner, another research business, suggested cloud computing is driving the next phase of digital business, as organizations pursue disruption through emerging technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI), Web3 and the metaverse.
But whether you are migrating to the cloud, or looking to maintain and upgrade existing cloud infrastructure, the difference between success and failure often comes down to your approach.
And while there is more than one way to make a success of the cloud, adopting a DevOps mindset and embracing DevOps culture in your business can bring significant advantages.
What is DevOps?
DevOps methodology is an antidote to slow and inefficient software deployment. Instead of the traditional silos of development and operations working independently, DevOps brings together people from both teams and has them working across the entire software development lifecycle.
When properly implemented, DevOps can mean faster, safer and more effective software delivery. Interest in DevOps adoption and the potential benefits it can bring is growing. Google Trends suggests search volume for “DevOps” has doubled over the past two years. While a study by Grand View Research predicted that the global DevOps market would be worth $37.25 billion by 2030 (up from $2.77 billion in 2016).
What is DevOps consulting?
DevOps methodology isn't just about team structures. It is also a philosophical change. Continuous delivery, continuous integration and iterating often, represent a marked shift away from the traditional waterfall development methodology. And organizations need to fully buy into this new way of doing things before they can reap the rewards.
This multifaceted nature of DevOps is why a lot of organizations turn to external DevOps experts to help embed the DevOps culture in their teams. DevOps consulting goes beyond explaining the DevOps mindset and implementing DevOps tools. It helps businesses make the structural and process changes and extends to ongoing support in helping people change how they work and how they think about their work.
DevOps and the cloud
DevOps is not limited to cloud migrations and there’s a lot more to cloud computing than DevOps. But the two are often talked about in the same breath. The top three cloud computing providers - Amazon (32% market share), Microsoft (22%) and Google (11%) - are all strong advocates of DevOps. They regularly publish content supporting best practice DevOps implementation and promoting the benefits of a DevOps mindset when working in the cloud.
For example, research by Google Cloud identified some of the advantages software teams that successfully implemented DevOps could expect over less agile competitors:
- Deploy software up to 208x faster
- Software deployment lead times up to 106x faster
- Recover from incidents 2.6x faster
- Change fail rates 7x lower
- Spend 50% less time fixing security issues
Why cloud migrations are difficult to do right
Companies often encounter challenges and setbacks both during and after a cloud migration. Common challenges include:
- Lack of expertise (skill, capabilities): Whether it’s particular aspects of your cloud set-up or the successful adoption of DevOps best practice, you won’t always have the experience and expertise you need in-house. New skills will be required both during the initial cloud migration and for ongoing management. Finding, hiring and training the people you need is difficult, time consuming and expensive. In some regions and job roles, there are major staff shortages, driving up salaries and making recruitment a real headache.
- Security: In the early days of cloud computing, organizations had major concerns about their data being hosted off-site by a third party. But while cloud has now hit widespread adoption, security is still a major consideration for any cloud migration project.
Typically these concerns fall into two categories: 1) data breaches (as cloud tech is very flexible it is easy to build insecure solutions which increase the risk of data breaches) and 2) regulatory or compliance requirements (these may be specific to your industry or legal jurisdiction).
The security of the cloud is the cloud computing provider’s responsibility. Security in the cloud is your responsibility and all too often gets treated as an afterthought. The challenge is that security should be in-built from the ground up, but you might not have the necessary skills and processes in place to do this.
- Automation: In order to leverage the benefits of the cloud, such as speed, reliability and scalability, you need to automate. And you don’t want your developers spending time on manual tasks that don’t generate revenue. But the process of automating functionality - and monitoring and maintaining those automations - in the cloud can be tricky and requires a different set of skills. Often one you don’t already have in your internal development team.
- Cost: It is important to understand the migration costs as well as the ongoing costs of moving to the cloud. Cloud migration promises a cost saving - or at least better value for money. But if cloud infrastructure is not built correctly, it might actually cost more as the business grows. This is why cloud migrations need a long-term plan. It’s not just about what the business needs today, but also what it might need in the future. If your cloud infrastructure can’t adapt it will really hurt your bottom line.
- Strategy: The strategy you implement for your cloud migration isn’t just for the development and operations teams. You also need senior people to support the plan and ensure proper buy-in across the business. Cloud migration and DevOps implementation can mean a lot of change for the whole business. It is essential to have key stakeholders understand this and have them on board throughout.
- Constant change: One of the key benefits of cloud technology is that it supports business agility. That means building in scalability from the start. But it also means ongoing management of your cloud infrastructure so it can adapt to any changes in your business. If you pivot to a new product or break into a new market, your cloud infrastructure needs to be changed or updated. A DevOps mindset helps with that, but you also need the right specialist expertise and experience.
- Monitoring: The best DevOps teams deploy more stable software, but they also detect and respond to errors a lot quicker. Ideally, error detection is pre-emptive, with remedies implemented before the rest of the business or customers notice anything is wrong. But setting up pro-active monitoring can be particularly challenging in the fluid environment of cloud computing. It constantly requires new expertise and new tools and doesn’t stop when your IT department clocks off for the day.
Cloud migration strategies and the benefits of DevOps
There are different strategic approaches organizations can use when undertaking a cloud migration. Here is our guide to the most commonly used methods:
Lift and shift
Organizations are often tempted by this approach because it sounds simple. Also referred to as “re-hosting”, it replicates on-premises infrastructure in the cloud. Sometimes a “lift and shift” might include some cloud optimizations, such as disaster recovery or automated scripts. This is called “lift, tinker and shift”.
What are the problems with this method? Essentially it is replicating what you already have, including the issues. One of the benefits of the cloud is reducing costs. That’s harder to achieve with “lift and shift”. You might also find that your cloud infrastructure lacks scalability, which is another important reason to use the cloud.
Cloud migrations with a DevOps approach
Organizations that really want to leverage the potential of the cloud usually go for either “re-architecting” or “serverless”. Both of these approaches really benefit from a DevOps mindset. If you have successfully brought your development and operations teams together, “re-architecting” or “serverless” migrations can deliver the reduced costs, scalability and flexibility you need from the cloud. Both approaches require more work at the outset. And they mean more significant change in your business. Something DevOps organizations find easier to manage.
- Re-architecting: this means re-imagining how your application is architected and developed. It uses cloud-native features, such as containers, to achieve scalability, automation and performance. Re-architecting is the most common migration strategy if you have existing applications and want to add features, scale and performance. While the up-front costs and resources are higher, you will be able to secure the long-term benefits of using the cloud with this approach.
- Serverless: This is a higher-touch, advanced cloud migration. It means largely starting from scratch. Organizations should implement serverless when they want to build applications differently, leveraging event-triggered functions rather than traditional monolithic applications. Building from the ground up is more work, but your cloud infrastructure will be specifically designed for your needs. This means it will be better suited to growing and changing with your business as it improves business agility and continuity.
5 benefits of engaging an external DevOps cloud migration partner
If you are sold on the idea of using a DevOps approach to deliver your cloud migration, but not sure you need an external DevOps consultant, let’s look at some of the benefits of getting an outside partner in to assist you rather than do it alone in-house.
Finding the right cloud partner can help you implement and maintain the process and culture change of a true DevOps mindset. It can also plug the gaps in skills and bandwidth that would otherwise prevent your IT department making the most of the cloud.
Here are the top 5 benefits of engaging a DevOps consultant to help you migrate to the cloud:
- Cost savings: While there are expenses associated with bringing in an external team of experts for a cloud migration project, it pales in comparison with the cost of training, and finding and hiring people with the necessary skills - or the consequences of attempting the move forward without the right level of expertise.
- Onboarding time: Not only does hiring and training new personnel come with a high price tag, it also results in a delay to the start of the project. Third-party DevOps consultants and cloud infrastructure experts are ready to help immediately and can get you there much faster.
- Reduced risk: Mitigating the risk associated with unfamiliar new technology is important. Third-party consultants and managed service providers who have helped with numerous integrations over the years understand the best practices of these processes, lowering risk and uncertainty.
- A broader skill set: Organizations that specialize in DevOps, cloud migration and other advanced IT services have a broad range of expertise across many different use cases and cloud computing problems. These external teams complement your IT department, supporting both initial migration and ongoing monitoring and upgrading.
- Experience with the DevOps mindset: DevOps is more nuanced than simply implementing a suite of tools. Even organizations that have already committed to building a DevOps environment can improve the depth and effectiveness of their implementation. There is a big difference between low performers and elite performers when it comes to DevOps and an external DevOps consultant can move your organization up the scale.
DevOps consulting and Managed Services: A combined approach
An important characteristic of both DevOps and cloud computing is that neither are “one and done”. Both are ongoing commitments, requiring constant adjustments and improvements. For example, an external DevOps expert can help you understand the DevOps mindset and implement the right processes. But the DevOps culture change is challenging and needs continuous reinforcement.
Likewise, with cloud migrations. An external cloud computing partner can support your organization through the initial deployment, but your cloud infrastructure will need monitoring, maintaining and enhancing. These ongoing managed services can also be part of that relationship.
Here are some examples of the different ways in which external consultants and experts can support your cloud computing set-up:
Design: External consultants can get involved early in the cloud migration process. They design a migration based on your organization’s goals, while keeping best practices, cost management and security in mind. Specifically, DevOps consultants should:
- Conduct a thorough audit of your existing environment, applications, security, and spending.
- Create a roadmap and target architecture in alignment with your business goals and proven business models.
Build: DevOps consultants can help build and implement your cloud infrastructure, processes, and tools in line with the steps agreed in the design stage. This should include:
- Implementing DevOps processes and tools.
- Containerization, security and compliance.
- Infrastructure automation and monitoring.
On an ongoing basis
Manage: Once the cloud infrastructure, DevOps processes and automation are in place they need to be managed and maintained on an on-going basis. Having a managed services agreement means peace of mind for your leadership and extra support for your IT team so they can focus on revenue generating tasks. An external DevOps consultant can offer:
- Management and operation of the cloud platform
- 24/7 support
- Proactive monitoring and issue detection
- Maintenance of automation, continuous security, and continuous compliance
Optimize: DevOps culture is about continuous deployment, continuous iteration, and continuous improvement. Accordingly, managed services should involve frequent improvements, enhancements, and simplifications. Sometimes, a change in the business or a cost inefficiency demands a new approach or re-build. In other cases, a newly released cloud tool or service could be the impetus for action. An outside DevOps consultant should help your organization:
- Continuously improve the development processes and developer onboarding
- Re-architect for new business opportunities or big strategic changes
- Implement new cloud services and tools
- Handle ongoing cost management
While cloud migrations bring a lot of challenges, if you get it right your organization will change for the better. You’ll enjoy lower costs, better flexibility and more stability for your staff and your customers.
By embracing DevOps, you not only improve your chances of optimizing your cloud infrastructure, you can also transform your company culture. DevOps means better collaboration and a commitment to constant improvement that extends beyond the cloud.
base2Services is a global cloud delivery and operations company with 15+ years experience helping clients with new and existing cloud migrations. We are strong DevOps advocates and specialize in partnering with clients that want to leverage all the benefits of the cloud.
If you would like to discuss how DevOps and the cloud can accellerate your business then