Maximising value from your cloud strategy is a careful balancing act. A successful transition to the cloud typically relies on three factors – people, technology and culture.
The talent factor
Despite the hype, truly successful cloud migrations are still relatively rare. HPE quote a truly terrifying statistic – 70% of change initiatives fail because the ‘people’ aspect of the project is left out.
Cloud platforms are a completely different model to your existing on-premise architecture – and you will need access to a whole new skill set to make the transition. But retraining and upskilling is only part of the story.
Your technical team needs to understand the cloud strategy and their role in it. This is particularly true of those elements which will have to be retired or replaced.
By encouraging and empowering employees, you can better engage them with the overall goals of the project. Set your performance expectations, allow them to experiment and highlight quick wins to ensure everyone has a share in strategic successes.
And where you need to insource new talent, always be open and honest about how it will affect your team.
The technology factor
The traditional homogenous data centre is unable to keep pace with the constantly changing demands of the digitally-transformed business. This is why the flexibility of cloud platforms is so strategically important.
Building a custom, best-of-breed platform for your business relies on choosing the right combination of platforms, services and locations. As you try and balance these issues, there are several questions to answer:
What are our regulatory and security obligations?
Carefully assess your data and the laws that apply to it. Are there any issues relating to sovereignty or minimal security protections? It may be that some services are unable to meet these obligations. In other cases, compliance rules may mean data is best retained onsite.
Will our systems actually work in the cloud?
Cloud-readiness is particularly important for legacy applications. Will systems need refactoring? Are they best suited to native cloud, hybrid cloud? Can they be moved at all? And how will a partial migration affect application dependencies? This discovery process will help to inform much of your future IT strategy, highlighting those systems which need to be refactored or replaced.
Which factors limit our choices?
As mentioned in the previous section, do you have the right skills to capitalise on the potential of cloud technologies? Skills availability may immediately limit some of your choices, helping to narrow the list of options.
Are we ready as an organisation?
A cloud migration process requires efficient processes and effective governance – does the IT department have sufficient authority to lead change? Selecting the best technologies may mean making rapid changes to operating processes.
The culture factor
A successful transition to the cloud requires a change of mindset and greater alignment between departments to maximise agility. This, in turn, relies on alignment across the entire business, with all efforts focused towards meeting strategic goals.
Ultimately you are working towards creating a culture of continuous improvement. In the IT department, this typically involves adopting DevOps, embedding those principles in every activity.
Initially the focus is on the software you build. Code needs to be tested, inspected and optimised as development progresses to ensure quality is improved as delivery accelerates.
The cloud platforms on which your code is deployed will need similar levels of oversight. Your teams must be empowered to take action where platforms fail to deliver against needs, optimising or even switching services to ensure continuous improvements are possible.
The DevOps concept of a develop-test-deploy-test-improve cycle can (and should) be extended beyond the IT team to help the business towards its goal of continuous improvement.
Finding the right balance
With the correct balance of talent, technology and culture you dramatically improve the outcomes of your cloud projects. If you are unable to achieve the necessary combination you should seek third party advice before continuing; any time-saved now will be lost as you struggle to re-balance a maturing-but-flawed cloud strategy.
To learn more making a successful transition to the cloud or how to put your cloud project on the road to success, please give the WTL team a call.