This is the fourth post of our five part – The Rationale Behind CloudTruth series.
According to a recent study, 74% of companies pursuing a cloud-based solution fail to achieve their desired results and end up rolling back their implementation. What’s behind all this failure? For the most part, IT leaders tasked with setting up cloud tools find themselves struggling because they’re unprepared to handle the complexity that comes along with incorporating these services into their existing infrastructure.
As the cloud matures, infrastructure provisioning, application configuration, and secrets management are getting more complex instead of simpler.
Of course, as any organization scales and expands its operations, it’s natural to experience growing pains associated with rising complexity levels. But the cloud takes that complexity to a whole new level. To make the most of your cloud systems, it’s important to go in with open eyes and be aware of the various potential sources of complexity that come along with these new tools and services. Below, we provide an overview of some of the main ways in which cloud configuration tools can create new dimensions of complexity for you and your organization.
Complexity Due to Multiple EnvironmentsA significant source of complexity that accompanies many cloud implementations is the proliferation of multiple environments. It’s common practice in many software teams to set up separate environments for different functions, such as development, QA, staging, and production. To enable this kind of separation, teams need to build out individual instances of each cloud system for all of these different stages of the development lifecycle.
In addition to setting up your cloud systems to support all of these different phases, many systems are further differentiated along other axes, such as geographic region or team. Similarly, many developers want a personal sandbox environment to test their work before pushing code to a common space. Unsurprisingly, working with all of these different environments — and ensuring that configuration data is shared between them in a reliable, secure fashion — can lead to a fair amount of confusion between different stakeholders across the organization.
Complexity Due to Multiple Namespaces
Like environments, multiple namespaces can pose a similar challenge when it comes to implementing a cloud-based tech stack. Within any given environment, it’s typical for organizations to segment out the relevant configuration variables into a unique namespace. Each of these namespaces adds another dimension of complexity to the configuration matrix, further complicating your entire setup.
For example, if you’re working with Kubernetes, developing a variety of different namespaces can be an effective strategy to improve organization, security, and overall performance. However, those benefits incur a cost. Although it can be helpful to segment your services into smaller, more manageable chunks, this does bring significant new layers of complexity to the overall system.
Complexity Due to Decentralized ControlAside from the challenges associated with supporting multiple environments or namespaces, one of the most fundamental benefits of the cloud is also one of its biggest downsides: the cloud is fundamentally less centralized than a traditional, on-prem solution — and that also means it’s often a lot harder to manage.
This complexity presents in numerous ways:
- Data Sharing: Many systems rely on various types of data being shared smoothly between different applications. When all of these systems are moved into the cloud, it can become challenging to ensure that sensitive data is reliably passed along the correct channels (and that it doesn’t accidentally end up in the wrong hands).
- Consistent Configuration: If control over the system is decentralized, that makes it much harder to ensure consistency across different components. That’s particularly important when it comes to the vital configurations and settings that govern how your various cloud tools operate. Manually maintaining all these complex configurations for a fully decentralized cloud system can create a lot of room for error.
- Communication and Coordination: As with any complex system, effectively implementing a cloud-based architecture requires extensive communication and coordination. With such a decentralized setup, just keeping all the different teams and stakeholders who need to be involved in the loop and on the same page is liable to become extremely complicated.
Network Effects of Complexity
Finally, all of these different layers of complexity are likely to add up to a whole lot more than the sum of their parts. According to recent studies, 93% of modern companies are developing a multi-cloud strategy, and each of those systems (and their various sub-systems, configurations, and environments) has the potential to interact with any other system in unpredictable ways. That means that the overall complexity of the cloud-based tech stack has the potential to balloon at exponential rates, compounding with each new tool or customization.