Recently, a client asked me what areas of cloud strategy and cloud migrations “beyond the obvious” should their organisation think through to truly take advantage of the power of the cloud. Maybe they had caught glimpses of how powerful a comprehensive cloud platform could be but didn’t want to fall into the trap of just swapping old tech for new tech.   I thought that was a pretty wise question, so I broke down the ways a cloud strategy can be more than just a technology project. How instead, it’s an opportunity to transform one’s business and enable all stakeholders – from business to finance to tech – to interact with cloud technologies. 

 

Paradigm Shift

Cloud technologies are immensely powerful and simple to implement, so organisations contemplating the move to cloud should use this opportunity to transform into the cloud, not just migrate to it. Take advantage of automation, machine learning, leverage microservices, serverless computing, containers and middleware technologies. 

One of the most common mistakes I see is organisations treating cloud as just another datacentre migration. The problem here is a datacentre migration will simply move the old-world problems into a new platform and bring with it the complexity that already exists, often at greater cost to the business. Migrating to the Cloud offers more than this and presents a terrific chance to reduce complexity, technology friction and tech-debt, to accelerate business innovation.

 

Put Your Resources to Work

If you can reframe your thinking towards a cloud transformation, rather than a migration, your organisation can then design the platforms to achieve lower human-resourcing costs, particularly at the system management layer. By taking advantage of new technologies and new management and deployment methods, organisations can radically reduce the effort that goes into the day to day management of platforms. That way, you can elevate those resources to higher-value work, like assisting the business in innovating faster. This is the beauty of well-thought-out use of technology and new methods. 

 

Organising Your Teams Differently

Similar to the previous points, running cloud platforms using traditional thinking and traditional IT structures (eg; apps team vs infra team) doesn’t take advantage of how much can be abstracted from the traditional infrastructure layers (such as Servers, SAN’s and NW’s etc). Everything in the cloud is code-driven, so cloud teams should be focussed on automation and be vertically integrated between apps/infra teams to enable better management, faster innovation, and ensure costs are managed up/down the application/infrastructure stack.  In a post cloud migration world, it should no longer take your IT department a week to deploy a server (including networking, storage, backup and monitoring). If it still does, it’s a good sign your people and processes haven’t evolved to cloud thinking, which will significantly dampen its benefits over time. This is where concepts such as DevOps come into play. So before embarking on your cloud migration, think about how you need to change your organisation to work in the cloud.

 

Security

Organisations often consider cloud security last, which is a terrible risk. Security is so much more than just following security guidelines and policies or installing security monitoring tools post-migration. We encourage organisations to take advantage of the powerful security technologies and services in the cloud, like using AI cybersecurity to implement internal cloud and network threats (for example) and ensure these are established at the initial setup of the landing zones or scaffolds so that as workloads are coming in during migration, they are immediately receiving the protection they need. Waiting until after migrations are complete before installing the security measures simply exposes the business to threats for the period during the project phase, and is just unnecessary. 

 

Cost Optimisation and Ongoing Cloud FinOps

Organisations often think about operational monitoring, but few think about how to track, monitor and manage cloud costs. Cloud FinOps is the key to designing and implementing cost-effective cloud platforms. When you operate in the cloud, dev and apps teams don’t need procurement approval to buy another 100 servers. Instead, this now occurs dynamically and organisations need to operate differently to ensure they’re not caught out with uncontrolled infra, database, data, apps costs.   

Ask yourself:

    • How do I monitor cloud cost consumption (not just at the server level but at the services, database, data consumption level)?
    • What principles and policies do I need to establish to ensure we have an ongoing handle on cloud costs at all levels?
    • What decision matrix do I use in the future when spinning up new platforms or projects to help me decide which technologies to use in the cloud, with an eye on best cost-effectiveness?
    • How often does my technical team review our deployed resource types to assess whether newer cloud services can do it better and for less?
    • How do I link together my finance, procurement and IT teams, so I do not encounter financial surprises and ensure everyone is on the same page?

 

Thinking Outside the Cloud

We don’t think of cloud projects as technology projects, but instead as ‘unleashing the business’ projects. Reframe your thinking beyond the obvious and transform your people, processes and technology, and what appears to be a technology project can become a truly transformative business project.  Get in touch today if you would like to start a conversation about how SXiQ can elevate your cloud strategy.

 

John Hanna

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