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Back to Basics – Ramblings of a Cloud Engineer

With the onslaught of migrating into the “Cloud” in today’s ever changing Information Technology arena and the buzz of Agile projects running activities in this space, have we forgotten some of the basic items which would make both processes much easier to manage and ultimately succeed ?

A recent engagement has highlighted the facts of existing infrastructures not being fully understood before projects and programmes of work being managed in the agile methodology come along and try to carry out some form of change, migration or upgrade. This coupled to the new world cloud infrastructure not being ready to accept the wave of these changes being presented to it means a large proportion of these projects fail, but not until a considerable volume of work has been carried out, at it must be said a significant cost.

The public cloud providers want your business, and are more than happy to accept as many instances as can be placed onto them. However the teams that support these new infrastructures need to understand that the way of working will change, security elements will become more scrutinised, and decisions regarding what should be allowed into these public clouds has to be clear from the very beginning of a service definition.

Having your house in order prior to any activities taking place will greatly increase the success of clean and accurate migrations of existing services to the public cloud. In an attempt to provide insight into these activities we look back to the framework of ITIL. Yes it’s now many years old but the simple construct of its terms and definitions are being neglected somewhat by the agile project management framework.

Configuration Management is at the core of any good IT service being operated in the organisation, it provides the process for maintaining information about the Configuration Items required to provide an IT Service, this will also include it’s Relationships to other Configuration Items and Service Asset definitions.

Configuration Items are defined as any component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT Service, these will include other IT Services, hardware and software. Commonly the Configuration Items are recorded in a Configuration Record within a Configuration Management System, and is maintained during its lifecycle by Configuration Management.

With just these basic processes in place it starts to eliminate the additional work needed for the agile project to migrate or transform services into the public cloud.

  • Ownership is known for the IT Service – this may also spawn requirements of Application teams requiring re-training to progress the support and management of the IT Service. Relationship impact can also be checked for other IT Services before migration is even started – shared Configuration Items are more common than people think.
  • Entry Criteria are able to be set for running Configuration Items, this removes the Technical Debt that should not be carried into the public cloud – keep the migrated/transformed environments as clean as possible.
  • Configuration Management data should also be updated – don’t forget this part, it will catch you out if you do.
  • Perform a financial review of existing costs to run IT Services On Premise – are the Services performing at required levels – if not a move to public cloud services may turn out to be more expensive in the long run.
  • And as a final word, a number of regulatory bodies have a higher focus on the use of public cloud services. Ensure your compliance is met, this can include the smallest of items like the data structures and types in use.