Posted: 10 Mar. 2022 8 min. read

Four tips to build a sound cloud architecture

 A blog post by David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP


The power of cloud provides almost limitless possibilities to help organizations respond to rapidly-changing business environments. However, cloud doesn’t just  happen. A reliable, well-constructed cloud architecture is essential to a successful cloud deployment, and it can help organizations glean more value from their cloud investments. Therefore, it’s crucial to get the architecture right. Here are four key tips for cloud architecture success.

Focus on the business value

Cloud isn’t just about technology; cloud solutions should focus on meeting the business needs first. So, the impetus for building a cloud architecture shouldn’t be on acquiring the latest “hot” technology, but on taking a deep dive and understanding the business vis-à-vis its entire technology and business ecosystem.

To build an architecture that has business value, cloud architects must understand the business needs, the current as-is state of how those needs are being met, and the desired future state necessary to meet them. It’s also essential to define the innovation capabilities and agility that will be created by moving to cloud.

To measure the business value from their cloud investments—such as the value gained from the optimization of processes and technology—organizations should consider developing performance metrics and success criteria that are based on how well business needs are met. The metrics will be unique to each organization, but they’re critical in determining how successful the cloud deployment is.

Make security and governance a priority

Security is also a critical component of any successful cloud architecture. Security needs can include deployment-, platform-, application-, user- and data-level security—both current and anticipated. And, because many organizations operate globally—at least their supply chain does—security considerations should be global in scope.

Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure application security from the outset. Application-level security should be designed from the ground up, as the architecture is constructed, to build structure and reliability into the cloud architecture. This can help prevent security issues from disrupting the business, and it makes for a smoother cloud journey.

Finally, it’s also essential to have an overall governance plan in place so that when issues do arise, the organization can address them using pre-defined policies and procedures before they become catastrophic.

Establish operations planning up front

Cloud isn’t ad hoc. When an organization is building and deploying its cloud architecture, it’s essential to plan up front for how migrating and net-new applications will operate in cloud. For example, who's going to deal with data backup and disaster recovery? Performance issues? Outages? The success of cloud investments is often defined by how smoothly the entire system operates. The goal is reaching a state of operational excellence where outages virtually are unheard of. The way to get to that state is to perform operational planning at the beginning of the process and adjust as needs change.

Putting operations planning first helps in two ways. First, it helps organizations understand—if only broadly—cloud costs before deployment. Second, it helps mediate operational complexity. Typical cloud deployments involve a multicloud environment where the organization is dealing with two, sometimes three, cloud providers. Up-front operations planning helps operationalize that environment holistically—especially when organizations leverage tools such as AIOps and monitoring and management tools that operate across the cloud.

Test at every step 

Perhaps the most critical component of deploying a cloud architecture is testing. Unfortunately, it’s also one process that some organizations don’t thoroughly perform. The technologies within cloud architectures are all interdependent, so testing should be continuous and should be performed throughout the deployment process, on—and among—each architectural component.

Also, in a typical, highly-complex multicloud environment, it’s almost a given that testing will reveal performance issues with multiple components. Therefore, it’s crucial for the organization—especially the test leads—to have a good relationship with vendors so any issues can be fixed quickly and deployment is not delayed.

So how should testing success be measured? The testing process should answer one question: “Is the architecture set up to provide value to the business?” In other words, is it easy for users to interact with the system, and does the system provide the business with the capabilities to innovate, scale operations, and meet market demands? If so, the testing—and the architecture—is a success.

Looking forward

Cloud is a critical part of business transformation, and architecture is the foundation for cloud. If the architecture is sound, the cloud deployment has a higher chance of success—and so does the transformation. Obviously, these four tips won’t guarantee success, but organizations that follow them just might have a better chance at it. 

To learn more about cloud architecture tips to ensure success, listen to this podcast where David Linthicum, Managing Director, Chief Cloud Strategy Officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP shares four key tips to make your cloud architecture better and your cloud journey smoother. 

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David Linthicum

David Linthicum

Managing Director | Chief Cloud Strategy Officer

As the chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte Consulting LLP, David is responsible for building innovative technologies that help clients operate more efficiently while delivering strategies that enable them to disrupt their markets. David is widely respected as a visionary in cloud computing—he was recently named the number one cloud influencer in a report by Apollo Research. For more than 20 years, he has inspired corporations and start-ups to innovate and use resources more productively. As the author of more than 13 books and 5,000 articles, David’s thought leadership has appeared in InfoWorld, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, Gigaom, and Prior to joining Deloitte, David served as senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, where he grew the practice into a major force in the cloud computing market. Previously, he led Blue Mountain Labs, helping organizations find value in cloud and other emerging technologies. He is a graduate of George Mason University.