It’s no surprise that the demand for multi-cloud or hybrid cloud continues to grow. It’s clear that many workloads require a combination of public and private cloud to meet demands for flexibility and optimisation, geography and scale, as well as security and compliance.
In his report entitled ‘Cloud Powers the New Connected Economy’, Forrester principal analyst Dave Bartoletti recently said that cloud “is no longer a tactical solution but rather a strategic enabler of connected economies. Technology leaders will orchestrate cloud ecosystems that connect employees, customers, partners, vendors, and devices to serve rising customer expectations.”
That’s certainly true and it’s a lofty goal that many CIOs and CTOs aspire to, but where to start? In a perfect world, it would be great to wipe the board clean and, like a new-born start-up, begin anew. But as we all know, real life’s not like that. But that doesn’t mean the journey can’t be a success.
The journey begins – or does it?
Years ago, I completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe marathon. At first, paddling 125 miles seemed an impossible task. But once the journey was broken down into smaller segments, with 76 locks along the way, the journey not only became easier, it actually became fun. Once the journey was mapped out and scoped, it was simply a matter of focusing on the next stretch, each lock taking me ever closer to my goal. Having been both a CTO and IT consultant advisor, I’ve often reflected on how major IT projects have a similar rhythm. If you get it right, the journey flows.
As every journey begins with a single step (forgive the cliché), or the first splash of a paddle, it’s my view that a deep understanding of the current IT landscape is essential before that first step gets taken. With cloud adoption, all too often businesses have the answer before they really know what the question was in the first place. So proper planning is essential.
That means a forensic review of applications and infrastructure. For example, what are current OS license arrangements? Are existing applications fit for purpose or are some nearing end-of-life? Can you cut down on any infrastructure before or after migration to save costs? Only after a thorough audit of the existing IT landscape can proper plans be made towards hybrid and multi-cloud adoption.
‘With cloud adoption, all too often businesses have the answer before they really know what the question was in the first place. So proper planning is essential.’
Who’s got the map?
There’s no point in starting the journey by setting off in the wrong direction. You’d be surprised how often that happens in the race to ‘go cloud’. It’s important to set a vision for what the future should look like. Not just client facing IT but internal systems too.
Do you want to outsource and if so, how much? Do you want to build or buy? What are the benefits that will be genuinely meaningful to your business success? How much transformation is desired along the way? Should you avoid or embrace cloud lock-in? What balance of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) is appropriate? So many questions but without the right answers, businesses can either end up spending far more than they need to, or worse, destabilising legacy applications.
‘There’s no point in starting the journey by setting off in the wrong direction. You’d be surprised how often that happens in the race to “go cloud”.’
Follow the clouds
Then comes the decision about what type of cloud would be the best fit, and when. Would a private or service provider cloud be the best first step? It might well be, as it allows you to dip your toe in the water. Are separate solutions (multi-cloud) the answer or is a mixed environment (hybrid-cloud) a better approach? If you are considering public cloud, do you have the necessary skills in house to refactor applications to be public cloud ready? Are you moving to DevOps or will you continue with more traditional applications development and deployment? What about levels of security within the business? Yes – a lot of questions, but ones which the right service provider will be able to help you answer with some surety.
A successful journey may well start with just one application, or perhaps just one line of business. Having set clear success criteria, you can monitor success every step of the way and assess the real benefits of the move to cloud. When you’re comfortable with the approach, and perhaps with the service provider you have engaged with, then it may be time to migrate some key systems.
Predictable journeys start with solid plans. Whilst everyone likes the excitement of a big-bang, those with many successful migrations under their belt will appreciate that success comes from balancing speed, risk and cost. Which means taking a step by step approach to cloud adoption to ensure success.