Anthony Loss, Director of Solution Strategy, ClearScale

Many organizations today struggle to balance agility with risk management. Companies must be able to move fast when it comes to deploying new applications, services, and cloud environments. But they can’t risk letting anything slip through the cracks, like poorly configured access controls or porous data security policies.

This is where cloud landing zones come into play. Landing zones provide a way for organizations to set baseline parameters around things like governance and networking and then apply those parameters to new cloud environments. Without landing zones, engineering teams would have to manually configure every cloud environment before it’s deployed.

In this blog post, we dive deeper into what cloud landing zones are and why they matter. We’ll touch on the typical “lifecycle” of a landing zone. And we’ll explain how Amazon Web Services (AWS) aims to simplify the entire process.

What are Cloud Landing Zones?

A cloud landing zone is a framework or environment that describes enterprise-wide requirements across many areas, including:

  • Security
  • Identity and access management (IAM)
  • Networking
  • Governance
  • Logging
  • Tenancy
  • Workload management

The purpose of a landing zone is to serve as a template of sorts that can be applied immediately to new user profiles, accounts, and environments. Landing zones are especially useful to organizations when they are first migrating to the cloud or revamping DevOps processes. In both cases, leaders are trying to set their IT teams up to be able to quickly deploy new cloud environments that meet a predefined set of standards.

The typical cloud landing zone lifecycle consists of the following stages:

  • Design
  • Deploy
  • Operate

The design stage starts before a migration or modernization project begins. The purpose of this stage is to create a landing zone roadmap and decide on infrastructure specifications. It’s crucial here to gather stakeholders from across the organization who can assist in coming up with the right set of standards related to governance, IAM, security, etc.

Next is the deployment stage. Deployment is most efficient when using infrastructure-as-code (IaC) such as AWS CloudFormation. Today’s leading cloud vendors handle landing zones differently. What’s more, no two landing zones are alike because companies have different requirements for their cloud deployments. It’s up to IT leaders to design and deploy a landing zone that is suited to their business.

The operating stage encapsulates everything that happens after deployment. Cloud environments change constantly for a variety of reasons – evolving customer expectations, new enterprise objectives, growing security threats, and broader market trends. This is where interesting tools such as AWS Control Tower can be used to modify and continuously deploy configuration changes in your Landing Zone. Landing zones have to evolve in parallel to ensure that new cloud environments stay aligned with the goals of the organizations.

The Benefits of Having a Cloud Landing Zone

Having a cloud landing zone has many advantages. First, they promote stronger enterprise compliance and security. They allow engineers to set up guardrails around specific user types, business units, and datasets and then extend those guardrails as needed with little effort.

Landing zones also accelerate migrations and workload deployments. They eliminate the need for manual configuration, enabling organizations to bring new products to market faster and at scale. In a similar way, landing zones save time on the networking side, as users can set IaaS network configurations, firewalls, and more in one place and then replicate them.

In addition, landing zones help standardize rules related to cloud tenancy. Engineers can enforce shared tagging policies and publish consistent access controls across different types of security profiles. Again, the key here is that landing zones provide a trustworthy template for future cloud environments.

Why AWS Landing Zones are Different

As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner, ClearScale focuses on helping clients build robust landing zones on the AWS cloud. Fortunately, AWS makes creating and provisioning landing zones easy. With a service like Control Tower, users can take advantage of a landing zone framework that follows best practices for setting up and managing multi-account environments. AWS Control Tower is a fully managed service and comes with a centralized dashboard for monitoring compliance across AWS resources.

Then, there are solutions like AWS CloudTrail, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS CloudFormation that layer on top of landing zone deployments and support the operating lifecycle stage. These tools empower users to monitor usage, detect threats, and automate cloud provisioning via IaC, respectively. Altogether, what AWS offers is a better way to design, deploy, and operate landing zones, which are paramount in the modern cloud computing age.

How ClearScale Can Help

Over the years, we’ve implemented many AWS Landing Zones for clients. We recently worked with a company in the financial technology space, Esusu, that wanted to enhance its code deployment process. Our team built a new landing zone and deployed test, stage, and production environments. We built the base of the landing zone with AWS Control Tower. We then added infrastructure automation on top using Terraform. Esusu now spends much less time on infrastructure management and has additional capacity to focus on growth.

In another project, we developed a prototype landing zone for a client in the healthcare space. It ended up serving as the foundation for HIPAA-compliant infrastructure and workloads. We handed over automated cloud governance controls to the internal team and made sure the business had everything needed to keep sensitive patient data safe.

“ClearScale helped us take the first step into our cloud journey by creating a secure landing zone in AWS within weeks,” said Shree Periakaruppan, Director of Data Engineering and Analytics, ACR. “Now this serves as a solid platform not just for our analytics and reporting needs but also for our new applications.”

If you are starting to rethink your DevOps process or are gearing up for a cloud migration, we’d love to help brainstorm the ideal landing zone solution. We’ll make sure that you can deploy standardized cloud environments quickly and that your landing zone is capable of evolving with your organization. Your future success on the cloud depends on it.

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