Landing Zones: The First Step in Your Journey Toward Cloud Migration

Landing Zones: The First Step in Your Journey Toward Cloud Migration

The quest for stable and secure connectivity to applications, websites, and services has given birth to technologies like cloud computing. Cloud computing has changed the way we interact with the web by providing benefits such as shared infrastructure, reduced costs, and minimal management overhead. It facilitates on-demand availability of services over the internet, including databases, servers, networking services, analytics, and intelligence while also taking advantage of remote servers to store, manage, and process data without any direct active management by the user.

Migrating to the cloud enables organizations to increase business agility by enabling them to quickly scale applications and services. As a business grows, maintaining an on-premises infrastructure becomes cumbersome and costly. Cloud computing allows you to purchase more storage and computing power to meet growing demands while only paying for the resources you’ve used (commonly known as the “pay-as-you-go model”). 

This article will discuss the best way to make the move to cloud computing—establishing a cloud foundation using landing zones. After examining what landing zones are and how they can help your business, we’ll look more closely at AWS Control Tower, a managed service that provides you with a landing zone from which to build a secure and well-architected baseline environment.

What Are Landing Zones, and How Can They Benefit Your Business?

Landing zones provide preconfigured environments that can be used to host workloads in public, private, or hybrid clouds. They simplify and streamline the process involved in configuring a baseline architecture. Landing zones help organizations get started on their journeys toward cloud adoption by providing well-architected baseline environments that include secure cloud infrastructures, best practices, policies, guidelines, and centrally managed services. As the underlying core configurations of any cloud adoption environment, landing zones offer features such as identity and access management, network design, governance, data security, logging and monitoring, and multi-account architecture.

Multi-account architectures isolate applications into separate accounts in order to ensure that the services of one account aren’t affected by the others. This approach helps you to spin up or down a new application.

Typically, landing zones include the following features:

  1. Security and compliance. Landing zones should provide application and infrastructure security in the cloud as well as compliance and data residency.
  2. Standardized account or tenancy. Centralized monitoring and log management solutions are generally included in landing zones’ offerings, as is the ability to define the account or tenancy in order to enforce security and accountability.
  3. Identity and access management. IAM allows you to define password standards, roles, and policies to enforce access controls.

Landing zones offer the following benefits:

  •       Greater agility and faster service delivery
  •       Better network resilience
  •       Improved scalability, security, and governance in a multi-account environment 
  •       Reduced operational costs

Introduction to AWS Control Tower

When you’re considering a move to the cloud, you want a platform that is safe, secure, and scalable. Most importantly, you want a tool that can be governed and monitored seamlessly. For Amazon Web Services (AWS) users, there are two available approaches for creating robust and production-ready environments: building one from scratch and implementing AWS Landing Zone or AWS Control Tower.

AWS Control Tower is a better alternative to AWS’ previous solution, AWS Landing Zone. AWS Control Tower is an AWS-managed service that aims to simplify multi-account management by automating the process of setting up a secure, multi-account, well-architected new baseline AWS environment. It supports most of the functions of AWS Landing Zone, although some have been eliminated to reduce cost and complexity.

Because AWS Control Tower can be used to set up, govern, and deploy your multi-account environments seamlessly, it has become the go-to solution for organizations that require large scale AWS migration. You have flexibility in the cost model:It’s free and you’ll only need to pay for services that you’ve enabled. In addition, AWS CloudFormation templates and service control policies can be used to add customizations to AWS Control Tower.

Features of AWS Control Tower

The salient features of AWS Control Tower are:

  • Landing Zone: A landing zone is the underlying core configuration of any cloud adoption environment. It is a well-architected baseline environment that enterprises need to start their cloud adoption journeys. It can be used to create a baseline of AWS accounts as well as network and security policies that adhere to AWS’s best practices. AWS Control Tower provides an automated landing zone that is preconfigured according to AWS best practices.
  • Guardrails: Guardrails are automated implementations of policy controls consisting of best practice policies that can be applied to any account. Some guardrails are mandatory and enabled, while others are optional. Guardrails can either be preventive or detective.
  • Account Factory: Account Factory is a configurable account template that can help you to standardize the way new accounts are provisioned and build pre-approved baselines and configuration options for all of your accounts. An account factory can automatically create child accounts.
  • Dashboard: The dashboard provides continuous visibility into your AWS environment by displaying the components managed and deployed by Control Tower. You can use it to look at a variety of details, such as the number of accounts provisioned and their status, the number of OUs and their status, and the number of guardrails enabled.

Elements of AWS Control Tower

Here’s are the components of a default AWS Control Tower:

  •       A Core Organizational Unit having three accounts: the master account, a log archive account, and an audit account
  •       An initial security baseline for each account that includes AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config, AWS Config Rules, AWS IAM roles, and an initial Amazon VPC network
  •       An Account Factory
  •       The Control Tower Dashboard

Organizational Units in AWS Control Tower

AWS Control Tower takes advantage of organizational units for centrally managing control, billing, compliance, and security. AWS Control Tower uses the following organizational units:

  • Core: This contains the audit account, the log archive account, and others.
  • Custom OU: This organizational unit is created at the time you set up your landing zone. It contains member accounts.
  • Root: This is the parent of all accounts and organizational units in the landing zone.

Summary

A typical landing zone should be adept at multi-account monitoring, centralized logging, governance, identity and access management, network design, and creating a security baseline. Sound governance and a proper operational model are absolutely necessary for a successful cloud migration that allows you to enjoy a shorter migration cycle and decreased operating costs.

AWS Control Tower not only simplifies the process of building a secure, multi-account, well-architected baseline AWS environment, it also provides you with a dashboard and tools for managing that environment. In addition, AWS offers security and governance as well as support for centralized logging, network design, and identity and access management, making it the ideal entry point for your transition to cloud computing.