One of the primary reasons organizations consider the Cloud is the cost efficiency potential. AWS provides remarkable economies of scale, due to the fact that equipment purchases are not required. Payment is only necessary for services that are actually utilized, which becomes a tremendous advantage in subsequent environment spin-off capabilities, including spin-up and spin-down. The flexibility of the Cloud enables the usage of new technologies and the exploitation of the consequential advantages, which oftentimes, are faster than what is possible with on-premise situations without having to make costly up-front investments.
The scalability of the Cloud enables rapid scale-up and scale-down to be done automatically and on demand. For example, a flash sale may result in a rapid surge in demand. The possibility to automatically scale applicable systems up to accommodate this demand, and then scale them back down upon completion of the sale is an example of the flexibility and scalability of the Cloud’s resources. This includes higher availability to sustain business continuity, global presence, multiple regions and zones of availability, thus enabling the achievement of primary business goals.
One of the most common methods for moving to the Cloud is called “Lift and Shift,” where a business takes inventory of what they have in their on-premise situation, then move and replicate it into the Cloud.
While this is one good way to initially achieve a move to the Cloud, it has one key drawback: the on-premise architecture which worked well before may not be the best architecture when moving into AWS. Once this has been completed, a Well Architect Review would uncover issues and potential improvements.
Recognizing that “Lift and Shift” has this weakness, a modification can be made resulting in a unique “Lift and Reshape” process. Most of the on-premise situation is still moved but with selected changes applied. For example, to move a Database to RDS can include taking advantage of some of the other managed AWS services. This procedure requires a strong understanding of the numerous additional services that are available in AWS, and the ability to assume responsibility of all of the trade-offs that result. This can be a challenge, particularly to new AWS users since some of those trade-offs can be fairly confusing.
Initially, going through and trying to fully understand all the AWS services, the differences, pros and cons, and why one is preferable over another can be a very big challenge. Some businesses that start this process from scratch decide to re-architect completely, which is a valid option. The challenge here is to decide whether the company is moving to AWS or to the Cloud.
Cloud-native architectures can be a completely new paradigm shift, especially in how architecting is initially approached. This analysis includes changes in how CI/CD pipelines are handled, environmental provisioning, or how operations are run. All of these pose unique architectural challenges when moving to the Cloud.
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