Over the last decade, cloud computing and software has promised new opportunities and innovation for those willing to embrace the change. Companies invested quickly, implementing tools to help streamline workflows, securely store data, improve collaboration, and keep pace with the speed of business. Now, Gartner predicts that 80% of businesses will completely migrate from on-premises data centers to the cloud by 2025.
While some companies are still resistant due to the initial challenges of cloud migration, many companies have already embraced a full migration to the cloud. It's essential for these businesses to get a complete picture of their entire cloud architecture to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investments—and keeping their data and their business secure.
Let’s take a look at the best practices for reviewing your cloud architecture and how visuals can help you streamline the review process.
Setting the stage
Many infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud service providers have popped up to manage an organization’s increasingly complex cloud-based applications and systems. These third-party providers host and maintain core infrastructure, including hardware, software, servers, and storage on behalf of a customer. Early concerns over security and data sovereignty have been largely addressed by the “big three” public cloud vendors: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
AWS has dominated the IaaS market from almost day one, and its Well-Architected Framework is a widely accepted model that follows five pillars of software quality to help organizations achieve operational excellence from their cloud environments. The framework’s methods can be applied regardless of which IaaS provider you use to manage your applications.
Cloud architecture review best practices
Harnessing the power of the cloud involves more than building a solid technical framework.
When migrating existing applications from on-premise data centers, or even when building new native cloud applications, cloud architects must ensure secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient infrastructure in their cloud environments.
The goal of a cloud architecture review is to get everyone on the page when it comes to building secure software from the ground up and to identify and highlight all security weaknesses or critical issues in your applications. The outcome of the review is a set of actions that should improve the performance of your cloud environment.
These best practices will help you successfully perform a cloud/IT architecture review.
Define your business objectives
Before diving into a cloud architecture review, take a moment to check in on your business objectives. Does your technology plan align with your business goals, plans, and processes? Keeping these objectives in mind will help the review process stay rooted and ensure your tech implementations will set you up for business success.
But how do you align your cloud architecture to business goals? Consider why you moved or are moving to the cloud in the first place. Migrating your business to the cloud can help with information resource planning and business continuity planning—while also making your data and systems more scalable and secure.
However, because business goals are always changing, it’s important to make cloud architecture reviews an ongoing and flexible process. Still, level-setting around current business goals and objectives will keep even small changes focused and actionable.
Conduct a root cause analysis
Sometimes, you need to conduct a cloud architecture review to address a specific issue in your cloud environment. Whether you’re dealing with a significant issue with an internal system or want to avoid repeating a past security pitfall, a root cause analysis (RCA) can help you optimize your cloud environment.
Conducting a root cause analysis will give you the context you need to look at your applications with an objective eye. By addressing issues that impact the day-to-day work of your team, you can free up time to work on optimizing your cloud environment to create business value.
Assess your current state
Next, it’s time for a bit of introspection. Your business is continually changing, so it’s essential to take frequent looks at your design operations to support your business’s evolution over time.
Take a look at your existing cloud infrastructure—what’s working and what’s not? What infrastructure needs to be in place to support operational goals and business needs?
How can you improve cloud utilization—both in the number of people using cloud and making cloud processes more efficient? Do you have dozens of data centers, all running behind different firewalls?
Visualizing your cloud infrastructure will help you quickly identify areas where you can streamline operations and improve security. Using Lucidscale with an IaaS provider makes your team more efficient and helps teams optimize and secure their investment in the cloud and make smarter decisions based on a consistent, full-picture view of your cloud infrastructure.
See how Lucidscale provides your team with accurate, up-to-date, and interactive diagrams that are consistent across your organization.Learn more
Determine your ideal future state
If you noticed any gaps with your existing cloud architecture when evaluating your current state, you can now prioritize solutions to those gaps based on security concerns, organizational risk, and scalability to meet your future cloud needs.
From there, you can use visuals to gain a clearer picture of what exists today and where your cloud infrastructure might headed to help you simplify the implementation process and better plan for the future. Lucidscale makes it easier to communicate and collaborate on your diagrams, gain buy-in on your implementation plans, and bring others up to speed as you deploy changes.
Break it down and establish priorities
Performing a cloud architecture review can seem overwhelming, particularly for newer teams implementing full architectures for the first time. To mitigate this, you can break down the conversations and evaluations into more digestible reviews. These conversations can reveal areas of ambiguity to help steer a more comprehensive analysis.
Gather the necessary stakeholders in a room with a whiteboard and sticky notes. Map out your existing cloud environment, or automatically and collaboratively create it in real time using a tool like Lucidscale. Here are a few areas to frame the conversation:
- Network architecture: How does your information flow in and out of the cloud?
- Application presence: How does your existing infrastructure grow and scale?
- Security: Are your systems secure and scalable? Where are your potential security gaps?
- Management: Who has administrative and remote access to your cloud systems and servers?
- Cost management: How can we streamline our systems to manage costs?
Once you’ve reviewed each of these areas, you should be able to create a list of issues to prioritize based on your business needs.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
With a clear picture of your cloud infrastructure, you can identify duplicate or redundant solutions and integrated shared services in your cloud environment. By identifying opportunities to reuse components or services—or to leverage existing enterprise contracts or licenses—you can streamline your entire architecture, optimize operations, and stay compliant. Visualizing your cloud infrastructure will give you a better view of what you’re spending and where so you can improve oversight and cut costs.
Set your standards
Once you have a clear picture of your current technology investments, you can identify any redundancies or gaps in your technology stack and determine which technologies you can leave behind and where you should invest next.
Make a plan
Now, it’s time to take your learnings and put them into an actionable implementation plan for your organization. If you moved to the cloud quickly, you might need to make time to re-architect and re-implement some cloud solutions to ensure the technology and design aligned to achieve business goals and objectives.
Cloud architecture implementation is an ongoing, iterative process—be sure to build in enough flexibility into the review process so you can continually optimize your cloud environments as your business evolves.
A cloud architecture review will help you understand the state of your cloud deployment, build a scalable roadmap for the future, and provide a benchmark to see how your architecture is improving. By taking a visual approach to this review process, you can simplify the process of building, optimizing, maintaining, and consistently communicating your cloud infrastructure across the entire organization.
With Lucidscale, you can automatically visualize your architecture to better understand and optimize the cloud.Learn how
Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.