Reinventing enterprise architecture for the cloud
The role of the ICT Enterprise Architect (EA) needs to change as companies migrate their infrastructure and applications to the cloud.
In the first stage of this migration, companies typically implement software-as-a-service (SaaS) point solutions, which don’t add significant risk. But as the migration expands to move most infrastructure and applications to a cloud service provider (CSP), companies become dependent on their CSP’s processes, operations, and controls. This adds much more risk.
A main concern of EA professionals whose companies undertake this transition is that, as you commit more infrastructure and applications to a CSP, you increase the risk of lock-in. The cost of your CSP relationship has become harder to assess as CSP pricing models become opaque, decreasing the prices of visible services while boosting charges for new ones. Companies generally get greater value from standard cloud services they consume as other CSP customers do. But some choose to over-customize service to their unique needs. This increases the cost and complexity of switching CSPs. Open source products like Cloud Foundry and OpenStack intended to insulate customers from lock-in are still largely untested. As for public cloud environments, they are still new and there are few examples of companies successfully transitioning to a new CSP.
Another risk: CSPs offer a supermarket of solutions that customers can try out before they commit to them—without adhering to EA standards to ensure that applications and data will inter-operate as the business requires.
In the new cloud-dominated environment, EA’s objectives are the same as in the days of on-premise systems when systems were operated by corporate staff or dedicated service providers. But EA must now restructure its role to collaborate with the CSP to support business self-service and provide cloud expertise to corporate ICT and business management. Traditional heavyweight architecture-centric methodologies won’t work with CSPs. EA professionals must find leaner, more streamlined ways to define and enforce technology quality, interoperability and re-usability standards across all services they get from one or more CSPs.
EA professionals must ensure that contracts with CSPs enforce adherence to agreed-upon standards to integrate infrastructure, applications and data. A new generation of EA professionals will enable companies to mitigate CSP risks and ensure that all components of technology, whether in the cloud or still on-premises, serve the needs of the core business.
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