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The 5 key practices of cloud architecture adoption every cloud architect should learn

Every cloud architect can benefit from these international standards to ensure a smooth and functional cloud adoption process.
Bright blue cloud formations.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Cloud architecture has grown to be so normal that we forget what its definition includes. Many of us can remember a list of features like on-demand resources, optimal performance, and delivery of services. Others may know the "-ilities" like availability or scalability. Developers often start with the inherent promise to the customer: You will have access to the services you need whenever you need them, and with the availability and reliability you expect.

The definition of cloud includes all these details and more, and we will break down those components over a series of articles. The team co-authoring this article regularly supports the creation and maintenance of private and hybrid cloud operations for companies across the globe. We will outline the important aspects of a successful cloud operation based on our own experiences and backed by industry standards.

In order to get into depth on the topic, we must first start with who and what we're defining as cloud.

Defining the key components of cloud computing

The definition of cloud computing in NIST 800-145 covers the required practices ranging from

delivering different cloud types, and from private to public cloud. It also covers the various consumption models, from IaaS to PaaS. When we refer to cloud, we are starting from this definition of cloud computing:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

NIST definition

Specifically, we propose the usage of the Capability Maturity Model Integration for Services (CMMI-SVC) model. CMMI-SVC provides a framework for the maturity of the processes that combine the people, procedures, and tools to deliver capabilities.

The five practices below structure the work packages that drive continuous improvements around service consumability, security, compliance, availability, and scalability.

Cloud delivery practices lifecycle management
Figure 1: Cloud Delivery Practices

Here is a brief introduction to these five practices:

  • Self-Service Delivery: Enabling developers, operators, and other users to access the cloud resources they need when they need them across the enterprise with minimal friction.
  • Operations: The process of delivering the cloud platform in such a way that it meets the agreed Service Level Objectives (SLO) over time, including procedures to ensure scalability, resilience, repairability, security, and continuous compliance.
  • Resource and Capacity Management: Establishing and maintaining optimized resource capacity and availability at a justifiable cost. Resource and capacity management covers all layers, from infrastructure (compute, storage, networking) to software and people.
  • Governance: The decision-making model. Organizations should be designed to ensure that investments support business objectives and capture the system that drives the cloud team's behavior, decision making, and long-term measures of success. It includes ethics, risk management, compliance, and administration.
  • Lifecycle Management: Cloud technologies often have short release cycles that demand robust processes to ensure timely upgrades and consistent configuration and stability across releases. For example, Kubernetes has a quarterly release cycle for new features while continuously rolling patches and security updates.


This article establishes the NIST 800-145 definition of cloud computing as a baseline for our understanding of the technology. The five factors of CMMI-SVC practices provide a framework by which thousands of organizations adopt and support reliable private cloud services.

With these definitions outlined, we will go further into the practice of cloud management in articles to come. If you have questions or specifics you would like us to explore in future articles, let the team know at with the subject line [Define Cloud].

Topics:   Cloud  
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Johan Swanepoel

Johan has 19 years of experience in Information Technology in various sectors including Banking and Finance, and Government. For Red Hat, he worked as a Federal Government Technology Specialist. More about me

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Adam Goossens

Adam, a Red Hat Senior Solution Architect for APAC, has 10 years experience in Information Technology and open source, with the last three years spent architecting, deploying and operating private clouds.  He focuses heavily on the design and implementation of cloud governance procedures, includi More about me

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Mohammad Ahmad

Mohammad has 20+ years of experience in multi-tiered system development and automated solutions. He has extensive experience in online services that use open-source software based on UNIX and Linux. Primarily focused on IT infrastructure with a background in open source web development. More about me

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John Apple II

John, a Senior Technical Support Engineer, has 16 years of systems administration, operations, and IT management experience around UNIX, Linux, Performance/Capacity Management, Automation, Configuration Management, and OpenStack private clouds. More about me

Maurice Burrows

Maurice is a Senior Consultant at Red Hat with 30+ years experience in Information Technology. He has worked for vendors, system integrators and end user organizations and has experienced the challenges of each.  More about me

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