After previously discussing the change agent’s secret weapon, I’m back to share another experience as change agent consultant. This time, we’re going to explore one of my most frequently asked questions, “What public cloud platform do I choose”?
Change Agent Consulting – Cloud Refraction
Binary choices are tough, and this one reminds me of a choice that many of us have made in our lives. Think about going to the eye doctor and looking through the phoropter. The phoropter is the refraction device that an eye doctor uses to present a lens when viewing an eye chart. You should know how the process goes. The eye doctor very calmly asks, “What looks better to you? Number one or number two?”
You must make a choice between the two fields of vision, number one or number two. It’s a crucial choice that you need to make on the spot: one or two? No pressure, but if you don’t get it right this time, then you’ll have to come back to the doctor, look through that refractor, and choose again. “One or two? Which looks better?”
This isn’t much different from my workday when I’m looking at the two main cloud providers: AWS and Azure. As a change agent, I try to deliver something that can provide a consistently reliable environment, is always on, has a predictable cost, is easily supported by our client’s current staff, and compatible with my future state.
Focus on the Cloud Service Provider
As a Principle Solution Architect, I don’t get the option for follow-up appointments because I must make the correct choice for my client the first time around. I always start with defining the use case for the cloud and not the platform. I have the same two choices every day, and in my role, I must first determine what the use case is before I choose the cloud platform. The decision process starts with a simple question, “What are we trying to do?”
My first step in choosing a cloud platform is to identify the use case: Is this an office application? Is it preserving a Windows 2003 R2 application that you need to buy hardware for? Are we replacing MS SQL with a big data cloud service? Once we have identified the What, then I can start to choose our cloud service provider (CSP) and define the How.
One Can be Better Than the Other
Yes, I said it, one can be better. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, if looking at replacing an MS SQL server environment with a big data solution, then we must evaluate the proposed solution and how it lines up with the cloud platforms. I use this approach each time I need to move an application or a service to the cloud. What is the future state of the application or service? How will the current staff support the application on the cloud?
AWS and Azure are both providing similar services, and, at the same time, their platforms are totally unique. My goal is to extract the required information to develop a solution that utilizes the advantages of that cloud platform and ensure the client that we can scale if necessary, the solution is secure, and I can price it accurately.
Start to Consume Both Clouds!
So, what is the correct approach? I say start with consuming both clouds! Start with getting the necessary infrastructure in place to create a hybrid cloud with both AWS and Azure. Once the infrastructure components are in place, you are in a great position to consume both clouds based on a use case that is the most compatible with the solution and the public cloud that you’ve chosen. This approach is consumption-based and will allow you to consume AWS and Azure without making permanent long-term commitments to one or the other.
There is no magical decision tree out there to assist you in making the correct decision as both the AWS and Azure clouds will meet most of your application needs. Using both clouds provides a unique advantage for your enterprise as it allows you to consume based on a use case instead of consuming based on a binary choice. Choosing both clouds will provide you with two clear fields of vision and allow you to provide unique solutions based on what each cloud platform offers. This approach also allows you the flexibility to develop alternative solutions and to create competition for your business from AWS and Azure.