I was listening to my podcast feed again this weekend, and beyond the true crime shows, I did listen to something more work related. The question asked on this episode was a profound one, not typically asked in the tech press today: “Cloud was supposed to make computing easier, but it’s now as complicated or more complicated than legacy data centers and apps. Is there any future in a simpler cloud?”

Those of you who have followed me here for a while or taken my courses understand that I’ve been attempting to figure out the balance between making cloud architectures complex versus making them optimized and efficient. The more I’ve researched this space, the more I think I’m onto something: We need to understand what the trade-offs are.

Core to this issue may be a people problem, not a technology one. Most architects build and deploy cloud solutions that are often too complex and too costly. They do so influenced by a few conscious and unconscious biases.

No need to look further than complexity bias: “Faced with two competing hypotheses, we are likely to choose the most complex one. That’s usually the option with the most assumptions and regressions. As a result, when we need to solve a problem, we may ignore simple solutions—thinking “that will never work”—and instead favor complex ones.”

I’m not an expert to opine on the psychological issues of making things, including cloud architectures, too complex. It’s interesting that the simpler solutions with the fewest moving parts (cloud services) are typically far better than attempting to push every type of technology into the final deployed architecture. Don’t choose four types of storage when two will do. Opting for 10 different cloud-native databases because some of those have features that may be needed at some point in the future…well, maybe.

The issue is that complex architecture works just fine—initially. However, it costs three to six times more to build, deploy, and operate. There is no failsafe in terms of other company executives pointing out that although the solution is needed, it costs too much because it’s way too convoluted and overengineered. In other words, cloud architects get away with it, and are likely praised for deploying a solution where innovation is mistaken for overly complex.

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