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Your Cloud Landing Zone is the foundational Cloud environment that hosts all your shared services – connectivity, directory services, security services, management services, etc. – that will be used by all other parts of your Cloud footprint. It would not be wrong to say that a Landing Zone is the backbone of your organization’s Cloud environment. An organization that is migrating to the Cloud requires a robust Landing Zone infrastructure in the Cloud to be in place prior to the migrations. It is impossible to extract the full benefit of moving to the Cloud without this important first step.

A Landing Zone that’s well designed facilitates a seamless Cloud migration by improving resilience and performance, security, and scalability. Not to mention the fact that it also contributes to reducing your operational Cloud cost.

It’s important for Cloud architects to realize that the Landing Zone is an important component of their Cloud infrastructure. Therefore, it should be tested as any critical IT component. This can be done by building accounts in the test Landing Zone that are similar to those in the production Landing Zone.

Cloud architects can also routinely perform build/destroy life cycles to reveal any broken dependencies that may have been introduced. This approach is vital to developing a Landing Zone that’s robust and scalable.

Your Landing Zone needs these 5 important things

With Landing Zones, you can standardize the Cloud environments provisioned by the DevOps teams. This ensures that developers aren’t handed completely unconfigured AWS or Azure accounts. These pre-configured environments can then be used to host workloads in private, hybrid or public Clouds.

It’s pertinent to note that the benefits of a Landing Zone can be truly realized when these five important aspects are taken care of. They are critical to providing the consistency and security baseline that ensures protection against non-compliant or unauthorized configurations.

1. Identity and Access Management
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a critical part of your Landing Zone. To secure data and resources, it requires identity authentication for access while access control helps decide which requests should be allowed. Think of it as boundary security that makes a secure and fully compliant Cloud architecture possible.

Consider limits for the number of custom roles and role assignments when creating a framework for IAM during Landing Zone design as well as the tasks and functions that should be controlled with managed identities.

Manage the resources deployed inside the Landing Zone through delegated responsibilities that are based on security requirements. These access controls make sure that users can only do and access what they are supposed to and nothing more.

2. Security
Security needs to be a priority throughout the entire Landing Zone design process. It should not be viewed as a standalone component, rather it should be ensured for every single layer of the Landing Zone with the utmost regard for compliance and data residency.

Utilize the extremely granular security filtering and resource level network segmentation that major Cloud service providers offer to bolster the security of resources and workloads deployed in the Landing Zone.

With Landing Zones, company-wide compliance and data residency policies can be implemented. This provides a base level of compliance regardless of the number of environments or tenants.

3. Networking
Networking and connectivity considerations are a core element of Landing Zone design. They enable connectivity between the apps, data, services and your users. There needs to be clarity on how your connectivity requirements, networks and security groups are structured.

This enables you to align your Landing Zone design with your overall Cloud adoption strategy. For example, if you’ are going to implement a hybrid or multi-Cloud strategy, your network design must be built to support it and the resulting traffic patterns.

Improve security by defining network encryption requirements between on-premises and Cloud infrastructure. To support a zero-trust network implementation, internal network segmentation can also be achieved within a Landing Zone.

4. Logging
A centralized logging approach for your Landing Zone will provide a single pane of glass to monitor multiple accounts and services. Logging data is a great way to get insights about the state of all components inside the Landing Zone.

Cloud service providers provide logs for activities, resources, services, analytics and security. This data is critical for you to be able to troubleshoot problems and prevent them from surfacing again. It also allows you to improve app performance and maintainability.

Use structured data so that logs are easy to read and parse. Achieve consistent timestamps by using the same format and time zone. Make sure that logging does not hinder operations, if an event is not critical then it should be logged silently.

5. Automation
Design your Landing Zone with platform automation in mind. With this infrastructure-as-code approach, your infrastructure is developed in a way that is easily repeatable so that it can evolve to support efficient operations when scaling up.

Automation allows for the tasks to be completed quicker when building a scalable environment and removes the risk of human error. It relies on a sequence of tasks that is completed in a defined order with integrated tests and checks to achieve successful completion.

By relying on a defined automated process, your organization’s ability to expand beyond the baseline security, IAM, networking and logging configuration improves significantly.

The Landing Zone is more than just the start of your Cloud journey

Good Cloud architects realize that the Landing Zone is not just the start of the journey into the Cloud. It is much more than that. The Landing Zone needs to be designed as a core component of your Cloud infrastructure, one that is constantly evolving to support the dynamic needs of your organization.

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