Don’t let buzzwords drive your cloud architecture

Don’t let buzzwords drive your cloud architecture

Buzzwords drive the IT industry—always have and always will. This holds true whether you deal with structured programming, object-oriented programming, client/server, distributed objects, enterprise application integration, data warehousing, and service-oriented architecture. Now it’s cloud computing with all its related buzzwords. We tend to chase the hyped trends.

This industrywide practice drove me to coin the term “manage by magazine,” where the coolness of a concept or term becomes more important than the actual applied value. Today I call it “buzzword-oriented architecture,” or BOA. The trouble with this approach is that you try to solve a problem by force-fitting a specific solution, regardless of fit. In other words, you “know” the answer before you truly understand the problem.

The overuse of containers and container orchestration these days provides some of the best examples of BOA. Although containers and container orchestration are potent approaches to turning net-new and existing applications into more valuable and scalable workloads, they don’t fit every application or every system. This is the most common mistake I see today, as enterprises spend twice as much modernizing a workload that didn’t really need to be containerized, all because someone wanted to put containers on their CV.

Why am I bringing it up now if it’s a known and long-time problem? I see BOA drive most cloud architectures these days, with enterprises paying the price for expensive mistakes. As I covered here, these architectures “work,” but because they function at a much lower level of cost efficiency, enterprises typically spend two to three times more than a better-optimized solution. Just look at the misapplications of containers to see many examples of this expensive problem.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that company executives say their costs have risen as they shifted to cloud computing. Why? Cloud computing didn’t fail the business; those who created the cloud solutions failed the business. Instead of finding the most cost-effective and optimized cloud architecture, they took a BOA approach that started with answers before there was a clear understanding of the questions.

I’ve created many IT architecture concepts and many buzzwords in my career. The danger comes when those concepts and buzzwords are misapplied and we mistakenly blame the concept, not the person who misapplied it. While this is frustrating, the more significant impact is that we don’t live up to the expectations of the business. As IT professionals, we must provide the most optimized and cost-effective solution possible with all available technology.

Most people have good intentions. However, many IT staff lack the depth of cloud knowledge or experience required for cloud optimization, or they lack the time and money required to gain that knowledge. The speed at which we can deploy cloud solutions these days amplifies the BOA problem. BOA is typically less efficient and thus drives much higher cloud bills. Moreover, cloud systems bill in ways that reward resource-efficient systems. This is why most enterprises do not realize their anticipated ROI for cloud computing. Take the time to look beyond the buzzwords.

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