It is a popular idea that “the cloud means I don’t have to care” however, nothing could be further from the truth. It isn’t really an AWS Surprise to me that infrastructure architecture is still essential for many customers on AWS. Naturally, there are many infrastructure elements that AWS manages; You don’t need to worry about racking and cabling servers or power and cooling. You do still need to choose VM resources (EC2 instance families and sizes) for each application component. You do need to design the network connectivity and isolation when you put together a VPC. Applications that ran on-premises, which you migrate to AWS, will require cloud infrastructure that replicates the on-premises infrastructure.
Similarly, applications built to on-premises architectures will require similar infrastructure on AWS. On-premises infrastructure architects can augment their skills to design infrastructure on AWS. Like any new platform, you will need to learn the capabilities and limitations of the AWS platform. You can find a few of the things I learned on my AWS Surprises page. One thing to prepare for: moving up the stack. Expect to learn more about application and integration architecture as the infrastructure becomes more of a commodity.
Not everything on AWS requires conventional infrastructure; more serverless application components mean less infrastructure. It is entirely possible to build large and complex applications on AWS without requiring a single EC instance or subnet. Services like Lambda, DynamoDB, API Gateway, and you can even assemble older services like S3, SQS, and SNS into a microservices-based application without a single VM. These services do not exist in on-premises enterprise datacentres. Only applications developed specifically on AWS will use these services. With a fully serverless application, there is a large amount of application architecture to design rather than infrastructure architecture.
One thing to watch for is elements that are provided by on-premises infrastructure that are not automatically delivered by AWS. One example is data protection for backup/recovery, compliance, and disaster recovery. On AWS, these capabilities must be added to or configured for the services, where on-premises, they are often just a fundamental part of the infrastructure. Even if there is no infrastructure to design to support functional requirements, often there are non-functional requirements that the infrastructure team would usually handle.
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