Cloud-Native Abstraction and Automation
The Key to IT Org Success in the Cloud
Great things happen when an IT organization moves to the cloud. They can work fewer hours, catch up on their to-do list, and everyone on the team can be excited to come to work every day. Yet, many public sector organizations are apprehensive to move to the cloud, or they have been wondering why their organizations are still struggling in the cloud. Whether you're thinking about starting a journey to the cloud, or you're already there, you might be asking yourself, "What is the secret superpower of great IT organizations?" This question has been asked by almost every IT professional since the cloud transformation movement first started.
So top off your coffee, make your status ‘in a meeting,’ and get that pen and pad ready. We are going to learn something today!
The cloud native operating model offers a more efficient way of managing IT operations. Unlike traditional operating models, cloud-native models are built with well-known frameworks like the twelve-factor app methodology, and prioritize communication and collaboration between teams. The goal is to improve the experience of citizens and students while streamlining daily tasks.
By leveraging the power of cloud-native abstraction and automation, IT organizations can achieve higher levels of efficiency, scalability and competitiveness in the cloud computing environment. And, they must identify areas where they are not operating in a cloud-native way. Some of these areas may include lack of cross-team communication, multiple-version control systems and poor security practices.
To make the transition to cloud-native, leaders should conduct an application development mapping process, assess their org chart to identify team dependencies, and stand up a DevSecOps tiger team to assess and implement new processes and technology to reduce friction and complexity. The process of transitioning to a cloud-native operating model can be challenging, but it leads to a more efficient and successful organization in the end.
Implementing a good operating model is only the first step towards effective cloud operations. It addresses people and processes, but what about technology? To amplify the operating model, organizations need to implement and adopt tools that are agnostic to the cloud environments and vendors. These tools are in response to the phenomenon known as cloud sprawl, where multiple cloud providers are used.
Cloud Sprawl often leads to a complexity wall where things go wrong, applications break, and costs rise unexpectedly. In order to reduce complexity, organizations should look to abstraction. Abstracted tooling is a tool that hides specifics from the consumer, enabling them to focus on the big picture. By choosing abstracted tools, organizations can reduce the technical redundancy of point products and remove complexity inhibitions to innovation.
Examples of abstracted solutions include Terraform for infrastructure provisioning, Ansible for configuration management, and Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform’s (CNAPP), like Prisma Cloud that supports all cloud service providers. To reduce complexity, organizations should take inventory of their current cloud tools, identify non-abstracted tools that can be replaced, and embrace abstracted tools for their security, configuration management and CI/CD needs.
The pandemic has led to The Great Resignation with employees leaving their jobs at high rates, putting pressure on IT teams to do more with less. In the public sector, this pressure is felt even more so, as recruiting and retaining talent is always a challenge. The rise of AI and technology has allowed IT teams to embrace automation to reduce task time, minimize human error, offer scalable solutions, and enhance security. Repetitive tasks can lead to worker fatigue and human error, so automation enables IT professionals to focus on critical thinking and collaboration.
Infrastructure provisionment, configuration management and application deployment are three key areas to automate. IT organizations can use infrastructure, configuration, and application management and deployment tools, such as IaC, Ansible, Jenkins and CircleCI to automate these processes and improve time and lead time of work. Other automation opportunities include identity and access management, data classification and tagging, monitoring and security configuration management. Ask yourself and your team what processes and tasks can be automated to improve efficiency.
Tying It All Together
Cloud-native ops refers to a more efficient method of managing IT operations that prioritizes communication and collaboration between teams. To adopt this operating model, organizations must assess their IT operations and identify areas for improvement, such as cross-team communication and security practices. The transition to a cloud-native operating model can be challenging, but it leads to a more successful and efficient organization.
The operating model is enhanced by implementing abstracted tools that reduce complexity and support all cloud service providers. Automation is also important for IT teams to reduce task time, minimize human error, offer scalable solutions, and enhance security. Key areas for automation include infrastructure provisionment, configuration management and application deployment. Other automation opportunities include identity and access management, data classification, monitoring and security configuration management. IT teams should assess what processes and tasks can be automated to improve efficiency.
The transition to a cloud-native operating model is vital for organizations looking to improve their IT operations. The model focuses on communication and collaboration between teams, and offers a more efficient way of managing daily tasks. To fully adopt the model, organizations need to understand the people, processes and technology involved, and then identify areas for improvement.
Abstraction and automation are key technologies that can amplify the operating model, by reducing complexity and improving efficiency. By embracing abstracted tools and automating repetitive tasks, organizations can enhance their security, minimize human error, and improve their overall operations.
It is important to note that there is no superpower for greatness in IT organizations using cloud technology. Instead, success in the cloud can be achieved through the implementation of a well-structured operating model, the use of abstracted tools, and the utilization of automation. With these elements in place, any IT organization, including your own, has the potential to revolutionize your business operations.
For more information on how Palo Alto Networks can secure cloud environments, please visit our Prisma Cloud page. Also visit our public sector page to learn how to modernize federal, state and local government and education IT operations while managing risks.