Blog articles

Stop pulling from thin air: The benefits of cloud computing

Leaders make one common mistake when it comes to serverless and cloud computing: They want to migrate their current environment exactly as it is to the cloud. That’s about as limiting as planning a flight path along the road network and deciding the route based on street-level traffic. You can do it, but everyone’s going to look at you like you're crazy.

Keeping that “lift and shift” mindset prevents you from seeing the real ROI of cloud computing and serverless technology. Instead, we have to challenge our traditional ways of thinking.

WATCH: Mattias Andersson at Microsoft Inspire

Redefining how we think about software development

The traditional definition of software is anything that makes the hardware do what we want it to. We use operating systems to control internal functions, as well as peripherals. We use application software to direct our computers to execute commands. So we tend to think of software as programmatic, needing specialized programming languages to develop. But the most popular functional programming language isn’t Erlang or Haskell or Lisp. With over 750 million users, it’s Excel.

Contextualizing the benefits of cloud computing

Every Excel spreadsheet is someone’s software to make their hardware process data in a way that’s valuable to them. In a similar way, the “systems” we build on the Information Technology side are just more software. And cloud computing gives us a new range of powerful tools so we can build bigger systems faster than before.

STORYTIME: Speed up your software delivery with serverless technology.

A 20-person software development project was seven months into a nine-month timeline and not going to finish on time. Two developers gave up on the traditional approach and decided to try building it with serverless cloud computing technology instead. They started their skunkworks operation on Friday and finished Monday. It took two people one weekend to show working software after seven months of frustration.

What are cloud computing and serverless computing?

Cloud computing largely references data centers and data storage. Serverless computing is one piece of cloud computing. It lets developers create software without managing infrastructure. In the end, it increases productivity, speeds up product delivery, optimizes resources, and keeps developers focused on the end product rather than infrastructure maintenance.

Once deployed, serverless apps respond to demand, scaling up or down as needed. So when a serverless function sits idle, it costs nothing.

Key benefits of cloud computing and serverless computing

There are many benefits of cloud computing and serverless frameworks. By far, the one leaders are most excited about is cost control and increased ROI. It’s also one leaders most often miss.

How to increase ROI with cloud computing and serverless technology?

The number one way to increase ROI with serverless frameworks and cloud computing is to avoid building anything from scratch. Invest in open-minded research. Sometimes you need to build something yourself, but often there's a way to shift some of the burden away from your team. 

An easy example is functions. The first thing most developers think of when they hear “serverless” is functions. But the functions running code are just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Serverless technology allows development teams to hand off as much work as they can to cloud platforms like Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Just like you wouldn’t buy a field, till it, plant wheat, water it, thresh the wheat into flour, bake bread and toast it to make a piece of toast, you shouldn’t write your own code when the building blocks already exist in your cloud platform. One example is Azure’s Durable Functions feature. This feature manages stateful workflows so your team doesn’t need to explicitly create, store, and retrieve the progress through your data’s workflow in some other place. This process is so common to the systems our teams build that the cloud providers made it available without needing us to write lines of code. It’s like instant toast delivered to your door!

The more your team can leverage already-made code, the more time they get back on their schedules and the more money goes back into your budget.

Do you have an actionable and programmatic plan to upskill your workforce to meet your cloud goals?