Cloud complexity management is the next big thing

Cloud computing actually makes things much more complex, not simpler. That requires a new discipline around managing that complexity

Cloud complexity management is the next big thing
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Where have you heard that enterprises using cloud are moving to more complexity as well? That’s right, from this guy.

The growing cloud computing complexity was recently documented by the Wall Street Journal that cites a survey of 46 CIOs by KeyBanc Capital Markets. It found that 32 percent said they plan to use multiple vendors to create internal private cloud systems, while 27 percent planned hybrid cloud arrangements.

Companies “increasingly are going to employ multiple clouds, a hybrid of public and private, which is driving increased complexity in IT environments, full stop,” said Alex Kurtz, a senior analyst with KeyBanc.

No, I’m not writing this post to gloat (I’ll do that on social media). I’m trying to raise awareness that cloud complexity is something that’s inevitable. However, it’s also something that can be managed—that is, if you’re proactive enough and willing to put some resources on it.

Traditional thinking is that cloud computing will replace hardware and software systems, so things will be simpler. You’ll just have to spend a few days moving workloads and data using processes so easy that the applications and data almost migrate themselves.

But it turns out to be a complex migration process with many new choices to make and new technology to use. Where you once had five security systems, you now have 20. Where you had three directories, you now have seven.

Why? It turns out you cannot just shut down the old stuff, so the hardware, software, and supporting systems remain. At the same time, you are standing up cloud-based systems that used a whole new set of skills and technology. Thus the complexity.

There are a few choices that you can make to manage this process:

  • You can choose to not go to cloud, but that’s a death sentence for IT.
  • You can hire three times the people and toss money at the problem.
  • You can learn to effectively manage the complexity, and even make things less complex with the addition of cloud computing.

For those of you who want to see what’s behind door No. 3, it involves a bunch of upfront planning. The upfront plan must deal with security, governance, data, applications, ops, etc., and place them within manageable domains. You use abstractions to simplify the management, which includes combining traditional systems and cloud systems’ patterns in domains.

This discipline is called cloud complexity management, or CCM. You’ll be hearing more about it later this year and in 2019. Best get the religion now, before it’s too late.