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The Stack Archive

Enterprise success in the cloud: it’s like Déjà vu

Tue 23 Sep 2014

peter-albers[1]Peter Albers, Executive Vice President for Cloud IaaS, Virtustream, discusses the pitfalls of mistaking a business problem for an IT problem when considering pathways and procedures to cloud adoption.

We hear a lot about how widespread enterprise cloud adoption is. The real indication of mainstream acceptance, though, should be measured by how many enterprise CIOs are actually running production workloads in the cloud. Moreover, how many are taking advantage of newer technologies, such as in-memory databases? The truth is, very few.

Many enterprises start their cloud journey with public cloud solutions for non-production systems and have problems even with this approach. This doesn’t bode well for moving heavy applications, running in production, to the cloud.

On the other hand some pioneering and highly successful CIOs are able to capitalise on this new technology – yet there is no middle ground; only big success or massive failure.

This all sounds like déjà vu

Remember the 90s? Many companies failed spectacularly in trying to replace siloed, home-grown applications throughout the enterprise with fully integrated ERP systems. Eventually though, companies overcame these struggles and implemented ERP successfully.

So, what happened?

According to the father of “Business Process Reengineering”, Michael Hammer, the problem didn’t lie with the software per se; it was with change management, and ultimately, a leadership problem.

Companies that had commitment from the highest levels of leadership and understood that the implementation was a key business initiative and not an IT initiative were successful.

So let’s apply these same lessons to the cloud. How can enterprise organisations ensure they end up on the successful side of the cloud adoption curve?

1. Clearly define the transformation of your IT to a cloud-based infrastructure as a strategic project for the business—never, ever, as an “IT project”.

2. Understand the status quo and your existing application landscape. To do this you must:

  • a) Clearly define the scope of the project by taking inventory of the applications you have and the ones that will be needed in the future to run the business.
  • b) Note those applications and workloads no longer needed. Moving existing inefficiencies to your new cloud environment does not make any business sense.
  • c) Do a thorough assessment of each application and determine which type of cloud (public, private or hybrid) would be best suited for each.

3. Build a solid business case. Consider not only how much money you can save, but also try to characterise the benefits of increased agility

4. Define your success criteria. How big an application do you need to move to consider it a win? How many servers do you need to decommission?

5. Develop a Change Management Plan that can be implemented during the migration to the cloud and followed even when you are fully operational. This includes appointing a Technical Account Manager (TAM) who will be critical to the successful management of change on a daily basis once the initial cloud implementation has been completed, a key topic that will be the focus of my next blog post

6. Make sure you find the right cloud partner that can:

  • a) Co-manage the migration project with you.
  • b) Offer a truly efficient consumption-based approach (IaaS as a pure utility service).
  • c) Provide a cloud solution (emphasis on the word solution and not infrastructure) that accounts for the performance requirements of the applications to be moved, meets the highest standards of security, provides built in HA and DR capabilities and ultimately is able to manage both infrastructure and applications based on pre-defined SLAs.
  • d) Effectively plan the migration and then test the plan thoroughly, so that during your cutover weekend, the planned outage is as short as possible.

CIOs that embrace and treat the cloud as a fundamental behavioural and cultural change and manage it accordingly, will be able to take their business to the next level in terms of quality of service, time to market and efficient resource allocation. Those that don’t will be left in the cloud wilderness.

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