Day Two Cloud 096: Like a Kid in a Candy Store

By Published On: May 6, 2021

If you have a child that was obsessed with JoJo Siwa, I suppose I should apologize up top for getting that song stuck in your head. Don’t worry though, there will be no more mentions of the JoJo or her little dog Bow Bow. Yes, I know know. The candy store reference in the title is related to something Chris Wahl said in the latest episode of Day Two Cloud:

It’s a different way of thinking and I think we’ve all admitted over many years, if you approach it the same way you do on-prem, if you approach it like it’s not this API driven candy store in the sky that you can consume anything you want, pay a metered price for it. And yeah, there’s things you have to learn, but it’s a lot of fun and you can stand up some pretty cool services and do things at scale that you just can’t do on-prem. There’s magic there. And I think there’s this cynical black hole that exists predominantly in social media that cloud is this horrible cost sucking monster.

There certainly does seem to be a cloud backlash going around these days, and it was refreshing to hear from someone so unabashedly enjoying what the cloud has to offer.

When cloud first rolled up to our collective data centers, there were a lot of promises made to try and get us onboard. And I think we can all acknowledge that some of those promises were overblown, misleading, or outright lies. The marketing hype machine was in full swing, salespeople smelled money in the water, and CIOs twitched with crippling FOMO.

And thus there was a rush to the cloud with executives across the country clamoring for AWS and Azure to take their money. Cloud first policies were put in place, and legacy applications that were perfectly content chugging along and making money for the business were thrust into an uncomfortable space, far away from friends and loved ones.

I guess what I am saying is, mistakes were made.

Chris said, “There’s magic there.” And he is not wrong. There is magic in the cloud, but it is not in the NIST definition of cloud. It is the embarrassment of options that the cloud brings and the operational model it enables.

Consider what you typically have available on-prem today: virtualization, storage, and networking. Fundamental building blocks for applications. Maybe you have some cobbled together self-service portal for VMs. Maybe some of the systems you work with have an API that’s easy to interface with. Maybe you even have resource pools and rapid elasticity. You know what you don’t have? 100+ services available to you on-demand.

That’s the magic of the cloud. Between AWS, Azure, and GCP, you have hundreds, possible thousands of available services to snap into an application. And all of them are simple an API call away. That’s the magic. Not only that, but the cloud vendors are constantly adding new services to the mix. Want AI/ML? Here you go. Need something to cobble together functions in a workflow? No problem. Security scanning of container based applications? You bet. We’ve gone from whittling our own toys from blocks of wood to being unleashed in a Lego store with infinite bins of infinite depth.

Of course, if you are accustomed to whipping out your pocket knife and hand carving every application in your arsenal, the move to building with Lego can be jarring. It’s a mindshift that can cause a bit of whiplash, and it doesn’t help that the cloud companies made grand promises of moving your applications to the cloud and saving gobs of cash. That was a pipe-dream. You can’t simply move your legacy app from one place to another and magically save money. Cloud is magic, but it’s not that kind of magic. There’s some work you need to put into the process.

Unfortunately, many sysadmins and IT directors were burned by the first wave of cloud migrations and now have become incredibly skeptical of any new claims made by the cloud providers. Listen, I don’t blame you. You were hurt once. And you’re scared of being hurt again. Being skeptical of the cloud is only natural, and it takes time to rebuild trust. The promises made in the dead of night shrivel in the cold hard light of morning.

There is hope in the dawn of a new day. If you approach cloud as an amazing tinker toy set for building applications, and adopt a cloud operations mindset empowered by pipeline-driven automation, you might actually find the thing you were looking for all along.