Cloud Courtroom: The Case of Legacy Sins

Post • 9 min read

Welcome to the Nordcloud courtroom, where the gavel falls on the trial of Server01. It's a techie tale of serious charges that unveils an all-too-common case of legacy IT issues. And an absence of truly grasping the transformative power of the cloud.

Jump to:

Introduction of Charges

Charge No. 1: Under Over-Attention

Charge No. 2: Poor Infrastructure Management

Charge No. 3: Failing to Meet Demand

Charge No. 4: Sustaining Technical Debt

The Verdict

The Sentence

Nordcloud's Expert View

In the case of Server01 vs i-1234567890abcdef0, you are charged with:

  • Providing too much care and attention
  • Causing security flaws and exposure
  • A lack of innovation, not keeping up with the latest capabilities and bringing technical debt

The Prosecution:

 “Can you provide your whereabouts at 03:45 on the Sunday morning in question?”

The Defendant: 

“I was called out to fix yet another problem caused by our infrastructure.

I had to restore the application service. It’s an all-encompassing, multi-purpose server, providing many IT functions, and therefore has a very complex and fickle configuration.

It requires constant care and attention. I am the only person who knows this configuration and will not allow others onto it because of this.”

Nordcloud’s Cross-Examination

Each function for your servers should be isolated and captured into software-defined code artefacts. We call this Infrastructure as Code (IaC).

Next, we use the strengths of public cloud platforms. We deploy these IaC assets on-demand. We can configure these same assets within cloud-enabled capabilities such as auto-scaling and multi-AZ awareness. 

This means we’re not precious about any infrastructure resource that is deployed into the cloud, because it can be redeployed or extended, scaled and recovered automatically based upon point-in-time demand.

The Prosecution:

“How do you account for that security breach and loss of data?”

The Defendant: 

“When we restored server01, the last piece of customised configuration wasn’t reapplied in the exact order required. This was occurring while under pressure of a Priority 1 IT outage and the senior stakeholders putting pressure to resolve the issue immediately.

This meant not applying the correct network access and controls and unexpected port-based access.

I was only following existing processes and runbooks. The backup data was applied without error. I had no visibility or expectancy of this occurring.”

Nordcloud’s Cross-Examination

Once again you are guilty of continued legacy management and delivery of infrastructure services.

The same IaC assets of infrastructure configuration would resolve these issues immediately - simple redeployment of IaC assets, converted into cloud resources of known configuration and state, in minutes.

Having freed up significant resourcing effort, your team can invert the 80:20 industry standard of Innovation against Operation to drive your organisation for additional innovations, further automation or new use-cases and technologies.

The Prosecution:

“When the business had its big advertising campaign, there was a meltdown. How do you explain the inability to keep up with this demand?”

The Defendant: 

“Server01 was bought 4 years ago, to specifications that were acceptable for the limited usage it was procured for. Since then, we have been asked to bolt on all these extra tasks and functions, increasing its load and limiting its capacity, but nobody wants to pay to upgrade the machine.

We kept the traditional older ways of working, so server01 became overwhelmed within a short time."

Nordcloud’s Cross-Examination

The purchasing of physical CapEx items is fraught with danger and risk. The science of estimating suitability 4 or 5 years in the future is nothing more than crystal ball gazing.

If your estimation is off, the business has to live with the consequences for the remaining period, further compounding this risk.

This singular point-in-time CapEx purchase at its “maximum” capacity is not the only investment and cost consideration you should be making. 

Our expertise in cloud adoption allows you to focus on the nearest alignment as possible for infrastructure (cloud) resources being deployed to satisfy demand at that moment. This tracking against demand drives the lowest wastage of cloud resources and Support Operation team time for support and maintenance.

The Prosecution:

“Where was contingency planning or innovation?”

The Defendant: 

“Server01 cannot scale and has fixed capacity. It's a physical device in our physical data centre - the spare cupboard no-one else was using 5 years ago.

When scoped 5 years ago, we couldn't account for the varied utilisation in delivery. We scoped everything with best-of-breed components. As a physical purchase, it has finite capacity and capability, which limits our ability to realise the best return on investment.

  • Existing investments have to be maintained and “sweated” through their investment cycle.
  • Those investments now result in higher support efforts and maintenance costs.
  • So we spend more time fixing issues that we cannot eliminate and we spend longer doing it because of the complexity we introduced.
  • 5 years later, we cannot recruit the industry-leading candidates because they have no interest in legacy technology."

Nordcloud’s Cross-Examination

Your continued support for legacy approaches is causing the spiralling of technical debt.

Your operations people can only maintain a fixed size of infrastructure, due to the “petting” of those resources with complex and multi-functions being applied to individual servers. With this sustained effort, there is no budget or resource availability to replace this ageing technology. Freeing up those resources is the first step in the right direction.

You should be leaning into cloud capabilities; make use of the cloud providers’ ongoing design and implementation skills. This way, all cloud resources become software-defined and delivered as code, which allows you to rapidly deploy and even scale infrastructure with a click.

Then separate the infrastructure application functions into microservices, which isolates each individual IaC configuration and allows for drop-in replacements for each microservice as needed within the stack.

As all deployed cloud resources become a software-defined asset with embedded tagging,  we can similarly decommission resources quickly, with authority, to realise immediate cost reductions.

The Verdict

On-premises deployments can often make higher-risk bets against long-term infrastructure requirements. The boundaries and the capabilities of this approach are more finite, with combined CapEx and OpEx allocations and inherent lag within the supply chain. Whereas CapEx items can still be allocated to cloud spending patterns and recognised as assets.

When in the cloud, careful consideration is as paramount as ever,  but the rules may have changed. There are cloud adoption strategies and accelerators, following the 7 R’s, to help with this. You can “lift & shift” VMs on a factory scale. You can contribute to DevSecOps and Platform Engineering structures to expedite modernisation efforts that also align to ITSM and other functions.

The Sentence

The Court recommends a program of rehabilitation with Nordcloud as your parole partner. Their experience and expertise will show you the errors of your ways. You would be sentenced to the following cloud rehabilitation:

  • Deployed and managed cloud foundation deployments within 4 weeks, including client customisations and building from the architecture standards outlined by the hyperscalers.
  • Rapid engagement for an early Estate Discovery, with well-defined deployment and operational requirements.
  • Commencement of early migrations within weeks.
  • Use Nordcloud’s Advisory practice, in short 2-4 week sprints, covering multiple aspects of the people and process aspects of operating in the cloud: day-to-day operations; change management aligned with automated CI/CD delivery; DevSecOps team organisation around customer-focused value streams or business domains; Compliance and regulations.
  • Rapid introduction of Nordcloud-supported functions such as Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) and Cloud Target Operating Models (CTOM) to co-create your foundational rehabilitation with results achieved within weeks and months instead of years.

The cloud can alleviate or mitigate the above indiscretions.

But IT is IT. Maintenance tasks are involved. The cloud is just another infrastructure platform. But it's a software-defined version with all the building blocks of a data centre and infrastructure delivery.

Platform Changes

  • Your infrastructure is now software-defined. It can be treated like code. 
  • Configurations and deployment patterns can be codified and committed to code repositories, just like an application.
  • This is Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which is used by DevSecOps teams to deploy full-stack topologies.
  • IaC is a component of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) patterns.

We help extend cloud foundation configurations with managed CI/CD pipelines and container platforms. Not just the platforms themselves, but also everything around it, which you need to deliver an enterprise-ready platform (including repository management, platform connectivity and embedding into the cloud foundation and wider IT Service Management (ITSM) functions).

Impact to Developers and Applications

We use IaC to enable full-stack deployments. Developers now have the freedom to make any combination of approved and published cloud services for their application topology inclusive of the delivery of the infrastructure stack below it. 

This freedom of access combines multi-domain agile squads that have internal autonomy between them. Plus ongoing support obligations as part of DevOps, once the “Dev” slows and the “Ops” increases.

There’s inherent waste in delivering traditional IT platforms. The cloud intends to lighten this, and we help with delivering highly dynamic and flexible yet resilient environments within the cloud.

IT and Operations love it, because their responsibilities are diminished. Here’s why:

  • Simpler incident response - redeploy the stack if it’s broken.
  • No need for out-of-hours operations due to the shared responsibility model and automation
  • Simpler management - potentially no operating system, just self-contained binaries.
  • Inherently controlled connectivity. Cloud and container services are similar in that they tend to operate in isolation. However, they are built for network connectivity and infinite scale.
  • Pre-define how the infrastructure topology connects together, through defined IaC manifests and control policies.
  • Embed Nordcloud’s Automation Platform, for complete event-driven actions and outcomes to manage your entire IT and application lifecycles: service management through to operations.
  • Build on Nordcloud’s cloud foundation configuration and management. Control policies for logging and tagging services.
  • Automated notifications covering configuration drift and able to integrate to security services

Technical Debt Avoidance

We don’t just consider how the development process should change the type of infrastructure resources that are used.

We realise that often the assets labelled as “technical debt” and “production” are those that sustain the business. This importance cannot be understated. So, we consider how to make technical improvement in-line with business outcomes and revenues.

During mass-migrations, we assess against Gartner’s 7 R’s approach and make achievable suggestions within proposed migration plans. 

At Finnair, we performed a complete cloud migration, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, moving 400+ VM instances spanning 74 business applications within 7 months to achieve a customer-driven data centre exit deadline. (See how we did it here).

Under normal operations, we push for cloud-native adoption of equivalent services. Each reduces the IT Operations responsibilities and obligations and, usually, cost.

Recoverability & Resiliency

When outages occur, redeploy from the automated provisioning of IaC. When configuration drift occurs, redeploy from the automated provisioning of IaC.

This redeployment can occur automatically, based upon known events or incidents. You don’t need to be called out on a Sunday morning.

Procurement Considerations

Using traditional procurement is risky. Load and specifications are assessed ahead of the buying stage, not the implementation stage. And certainly not as infrastructure is rolled into production. 

Components were individually assessed, with siloed technology experts contributing to their domain only. You also purchase on longer cycles, accounting for the age and supportability of the hardware in question.

The cloud is the epitome of rented assets, with the ability to rapidly scale your usage of resources directly, and in near-real time.

The cloud is a modernised realisation of the traditional data centre. It includes additional connectivity and networking services expected of any modern data centre. But these services are engineered within their cloud platform, from the same software-defined implementations.

Ongoing Innovations

Make use of the latest innovations in the industry. Cloud providers are replicating the tool sets available for infrastructure and data centre operators. When new capabilities are published, any customer is able to use and embed them into their infrastructure configurations.

This reduces the R&D budget needed within the business to include the latest technology. The move away from sunk investment costs in hardware frees the business to pursue the latest and greatest, without financial consequence.

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Let’s discuss how we can help with your cloud journey. Our experts are standing by to talk about your migration, modernisation, development and skills challenges.

Dan Burt LinkedIn
Solutions Manager