AWS for Enterprise Transformation: Secrets of Top Cloud Architects

3 min read

What’s your approach to Enterprise Transformation using cloud?” is the question people keep asking me since I was made AWS HERO by Amazon last week. The business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, probably, make the issue urgent.

Combine the best of Agile and AWS to enable the company’s value drivers,” is the answer I repeatedly make.

In this article, I explain what I mean by transforming the business using AWS and how it works!


But wait, before getting started, we must agree on a couple of enterprise transformation fundamentals, that knowledge is where top AWS solution architects make a difference:

  1. Their meaning of enterprise transformation – In their mind, and they’re right, it’s neither IT transformation narrowed to applications migration to cloud nor the organizational big bang that puts the business upside down. Rather, it’s the alignment of the company’s value chain to the requirements of the COVID-19 recession.
  2. The notion of value chain – It’s the very specific set of key staff, processes, and tools the business repeatedly mobilizes to deliver high-value services. Example includes the digital service development lifecycle of a financial service in the banking industry. The value chain is where the enterprise transformation effort is focused.
  3. The importance of executive vision and business strategy – Their belief is, without a clear understanding of the company’s desired mission and planned objectives along with the means—staff, processes, tools—needed to achieve them, blindly migrating applications to AWS doesn’t make sense.

If you’re unfamiliar with them, it might be wise to know more about them!

Now the question is, how do you move from abstract vision, mission, and strategy to concrete optimized AWS Enterprise Cloud Architectures that make easy the implementation of agile work environments suited for recession times?


What you must keep in mind is, unlike traditional solution architects, top AWS solution architects have the big picture of the Enterprise Architecture, they see it as as a system of people, processes, and tools built on three elements:

  • The agile delivery lifecycle, scrum delivery lifecycle in the picture, used to implement the organization’s value chain.
  • The Amazon Web Services (AWS) stack, technology stack in the picture, used to enable the principles and values of the agile methodology.
  • The actions and the internal and external events the organization relies on to deliver the expected benefits.

The picture illustrates the draft version of an AWS Enterprise Cloud architecture I’m currently developing for a major player in health and wellness.

The picture brings out four fundamental elements leveraged to successfully transform businesses with AWS:

  1. The Enterprise Value Chain which combines the Scrum delivery lifecycle and AWS platform services.
  2. External Events alerting the business of any disruption within its industry or markets.
  3. Internal Events informing the IT organization of actions to carry out to keep the business running.
  4. And the actions in terms of automated processes needed to address the external and internal events.

Let’s discuss them!

They get external events managed to keep the business aware of market disruptions and opportunities

Getting external events managed is about implementing mechanisms—market watch, technological watch, competitive intelligence—that help the organization react to what’s happening in its markets. If you’re for instance in the retail industry, examples might include:

  • High unemployment, decrease in consumer spending, and drop in consumer confidence resulting from the COVID-19 economic recession.
  • Decreasing numbers of a store visitors resulting from the increased consumer appetence for online shopping.
  • Increasing adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based processes of your major competitors.

Seasoned AWS architects recommend the implementation of project governance mechanisms, Project Management Office for example, which mission is to identify the changes to implement in terms of new products and services, technology and strategic processes and as a result redefine the IT organization priorities.

As the picture illustrates it, Scrum Product Backlog is used to put together the business and IT and prioritize the changes to implement.

They design event-driven system to orchestrate and keep IT activities aligned to the business priorities

Implementing Watchdogs that detect necessary changes and change requests is how seasoned AWS architects handle internal events.

In general, they recommend that this role is assigned to the PMO who will thus assume the operational responsibility of the agile Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog.

They use AWS smartly to enable the business drivers and delivers the expected benefits

Top AWS architects understand that AWS in itself isn’t the value businesses are looking for, they use it as the enabler of the expected benefits.

What they ingeniously do is, they spot the key processes of the Scrum delivery lifecycle and get them automated to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and speed. They stress four strategic processes:

  • Plan and Measure: it reacts to external events and supports the company’s project governance activity. Agile project management tools like Atlassian Jira help implement this process.
  • Develop and Test: It reacts to internal events and supports the organization’s software development activity. It builds on AWS services like Elastic Beanstalk, CodePipeline, and CloudFormation to provision development environments and perform continuous testing.
  • Release and Deploy: It reacts to internal events and supports the organization’s software development activity. It builds on AWS services like CodePipeline, CodeDeploy, and CloudFormation to provision testing and production environments and perform continuous integration, testing, and deployment.
  • Monitor and Improve: It reacts to internal events and supports the organization’s IT operations activity. It builds on AWS tools like CloudWatch and CloudTrail to monitor and audit applications.

Key Takeaways

Make no mistake about it, the bottom line for seasoned AWS architects isn’t narrowed to migrating applications to the cloud, it’s the overall work environment transformation that will provide the company’s staff including IT, with the best user experience in terms of how it improves interactions, eases operations, and delivers expected benefits.

To compete with them, you’ll need to adopt a perspective that integrates Agile and AWS techniques and tools into a single enterprise transformation discipline.

Philippe Abdoulaye Philippe Abdoulaye is technology leader with hands-on expertise in leading IT organization transformation to cloud, IT infrastructure migration to AWS, and DevOps deployment. He is a member of Amazon Partner Network (APN) and Rackspace Partner Program and has been extensively working in Cloud and DevOps Transformation Advisory and Consulting. Founder of ITaaSNow LLC, a digital transformation advisory startup, Philippe is an international technology speaker, author of 7 books and more than 100 articles. He has been named in the top 20 cloud computing e-book sellers of all time by The Book Authority and featured in global technology and business magazines as prestigious as Forbes, ZDNet, Inc and foreign magazine like Germany's ComputerWocher. He is translated in French, Spanish, German, Chinese and cited in numerous digital transformation works.

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