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Cloud Native Ecosystem

Visualizing the 5 Pillars of Cloud Architecture

CROPS — cost optimization, reliability, operational excellence, performance efficiency and security — allows organizations to get the most from their cloud infrastructure.
May 11th, 2022 1:00pm by
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Dan Lawyer
Dan Lawyer, chief product officer at Lucid Software, is passionate about creating value by solving problems in delightful ways. Prior to Lucid, he led product and design organizations at Adobe, Ancestry and Vivint.

Getting the most value out of an organization’s cloud infrastructure can be a daunting task. But the key considerations can be winnowed down to an easy-to-remember acronym: CROPS, which stands for cost optimization, reliability, operational excellence, performance efficiency and security. (Sometimes, the five cloud pillars are called CORPS, which is the same thing, just in a different order.)

These five pillars are proven guidelines through which companies can design, evaluate and implement cloud architecture in a way that can most effectively scale, ensuring compliance with the relevant standards and saving money over time. And one of the best ways to implement CROPS principles is with real-time cloud visualization. A complete, real-time understanding of your cloud environment will ensure your resources are best utilized and your CROPS get the attention they need.

Cost Optimization

There are many different aspects of cloud computing that can get costly, such as infrastructure, downtime and staffing. The way to get the most value out of your cloud infrastructure and minimize costs is to eliminate unused components and refine suboptimal processes. This begins by knowing what you’re paying for — or in other words, knowing exactly what’s in your cloud infrastructure.

Companies that want to know the content of their cloud infrastructure pour resources into an effort to visualize that infrastructure. This is where cloud visualization can play a critical role. The right cloud visualization solution will work seamlessly with your Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Storage or Azure cloud environments to build an inventory of your cloud components. Then through automation, a resulting diagram can allow you to see all the relationships between resources in your current cloud environment, making it easy to identify where costs can be cut.

When engaging in a cost optimization exercise, such as analyzing opportunities for cost reduction, it’s also important to remember that time is money. For example, if something is misconfigured, gets hacked or malfunctions, that could cause costly downtime. Cloud visualization will allow you to compare the intended state of your cloud with its current state through filters. This way, you can more quickly identify the malfunctioning areas and address them without significant downtime.


If you understand your cloud infrastructure, you can more confidently ensure your customers can rely on your organization. With the ability to constantly meet your workload demands and quickly recover from any failures, your customers can count on you to consistently meet their service needs with little interruption to their experience.

A great way to increase reliability in your cloud infrastructure is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow you to both monitor your cloud and alert the proper team members when something within the architecture fails. Using a cloud visualization platform to filter your cloud diagrams and create different visuals of current, optimal and potential cloud infrastructure allows you to compare what is currently happening in the cloud to what should be happening.

When you can quickly identify and fix problems, you’ll be able to maintain uptime and establish ongoing reliability.

Operational Excellence

Striving for operational excellence means creating an environment for your cloud to always function at its best, and this includes continuous improvement. If you neglect to upgrade products or processes to help your cloud environment function at higher levels, you put a ceiling on the levels to which your business can ascend.

It’s essential to do constant research to see where and how you can improve your cloud infrastructure and environment. However, improvement doesn’t have to be a massive overhaul. Keep improvements small and continuous to balance the need for upgrades while minimizing downtime. One way to help identify these opportunities for improvement is through a cloud visualization platform that allows real-time discussion about improving your cloud environment.

Cloud visualization can enable different presentations of your environment to understand different scenarios. For example, you may need planning architecture designs for communication with engineers, architects and coders. On the other hand, you may need easy-to-understand, simplified diagrams for nontechnical stakeholders from whom you need buy-in. A high-quality cloud visualization solution should be able to automatically generate these different views.

Performance Efficiency

Many factors can impact cloud performance, such as the location of cloud components, latency, load, instance size and monitoring. If any of these factors become a problem, it’s essential to have procedures in place that result in minimal deficiencies in performance. For example, if you have cloud components in different locations, a malfunction in one region shouldn’t lead to severe downtime and service disruption throughout your whole cloud environment.

The ability to analyze horizontal and vertical scaling structures is invaluable. Ask yourself: How much do we have in our cloud infrastructure? Where is each component and are they working best where they currently reside? When companies can access a comprehensive, dynamic view of their entire cloud environment, they will better understand where each dependency is. You can visualize your auto-scaling groups and compute instance sizes, availability zones and relationships between resources. Then you will be better able to decide how you need to adjust your cloud infrastructure to improve performance.


Each cloud architecture must be able to protect the confidentiality and integrity of your information, systems and assets. A robust and proactive approach to security will also ensure that your organization maintains compliance with all government regulations and cloud security standards, such as General Data Protection Regulation, System and Organization Controls 2, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Companies may face disruptive technical debt if they don’t realize the need to meet these standards until after deployment.

This is another place where cloud visualization can play a critically valuable role. With real-time visuals, you can stay on top of your cloud security, cloud compliance and internal best practices by visualizing and overlaying your metadata in the context of your diagram. Such metadata may include instance names, security groups, IP addresses and more.

For example, you can develop categories to visualize your cloud based on sensitivity levels and mechanisms such as encryption, tokenization and access control. Additionally, you can use cloud visualization to document where data is stored and how it’s transmitted.

Last, you can set up conditional formatting in your cloud visualization solution that allows easy identification of security issues, such as unencrypted databases, instead of taking an extended amount of time to search for these issues in your cloud. Conditional formatting can also be valuable in other pillars, such as determining what resources are underperforming or what cloud components are a waste in cost.

Visualizing Healthy CROPS

Each of the five pillars of cloud architecture plays a vital role in optimizing your cloud environment. Following these principles can help avoid wasting time and money. The ability to dynamically visualize your complex cloud infrastructure — and enable real-time collaboration within your cloud environment — will help you gain clarity and communicate what is needed to adhere to each of these pillars across your organization. Each stakeholder should be left with little question about the current and future state of your organization’s cloud environment, making it easier to build and maintain and pursue future organizational growth.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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