Inside the practicalities of cloud consultancy with Amido

Industry commentators love to talk about why so many of us think we dislike management consultants.

Surely hiring a consultant means that, internally, something has failed and a firm needs advice, right?

Deeper then, if that same firm had moved to achieve a higher level of information-share, connected web-centric collaboration and overall data transparency (all those things we are constantly told we need to achieve so-called digital transformation) then the firm wouldn’t need that advice in the first place – would it?

In an age when even the Harvard Business Review runs an examination of why we all hate consultants, is this a brush we should tar the whole profession with? Is a management consultant just as (potentially, arguably) guilty as a cloud computing consultant of regurgitation and stating the obvious?

As in management, as in cloud?

Independent technical consultancy Amido argues no, it’s not the same thing.

Amido specialises in implementing what it calls out as ‘cloud-first’ solutions and the firm this year became the highest ranking cloud technology consultancy on the 2017 Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100, an award that ranks Britain’s 100 small and medium sized companies with the fastest growing international sales over the last two years.

While management consultants are busy organising roundtable meetings and reports, cloud consultants are (hopefully) more focused on the dirty practical mechanics involved with making real cloud software systems work.

As an example, Amido insists that it is focused on realities that include encouraging retail customers to adopt microservices.

How microservices help retail

The company says that many retailers, both on the high street and online are now adopting this approach, isolating individual areas of functionality from the monolith one at a time and creating new service boundaries.

“[Adopting microservices allows retailers] to innovate without affecting the day to day running of the business. When delivering microservices architecture for retailers, understanding [an] organisation’s target service architecture is only half the battle; the war is won by knowing how to break apart existing monolithic systems into bitesize chunks and phasing them in while keeping the lights on in the meantime.”

Principal consultant at Amido Richard Slater talks deeper still on the mechanics of cloud. He is fond of explaining how resilience engineering is a practice originally from the construction industry whereby design of buildings, infrastructure and utilities incorporates failsafe mechanisms, backups and redundancy to keep people alive when the worst happens.

Because of this, Service Resilience, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are all important aspects of a cohesive and comprehensive cloud service management strategy.

Release the monkeys

“The question of how you encourage engineering practices to improve the availability or resilience of a system doesn’t have a perfect answer.  As developers, we need to balance functional requirements, such as ‘Add this product to a bag` with non-functional requirements, such as ‘The bag must survive a failure when a datacentre fails’. Often the two will compete, and it is easier to prioritise the former when the pressure is on,” wrote Slater, on an official Amido blog.

Slater further explains here how Netflix came up with an  solution to this problem in the form of Chaos Monkey, a tool to simulate failure in AWS across Development, Testing and Production.

He notes that Chaos Monkey works by killing off AWS Instances indiscriminately; this has the effect of causing systems that have not been architected and engineered for resilience to fail unexpectedly.

This failure, in turn, gets the engineering teams thinking about Availability and Resilience as part of their daily activities, crucially amplifying a feedback loop between failure point and mitigation.

The Amido blog contains more of the real developer-level guts of cloud we need to get dirty with. Sure… there is still consultancy spin here at some level, but it would be unfair to argue that any cloud consultancy operates on quite the same level as your average management consultancy.

Keep on keeping it real people.


Image Source: Amido