The global pandemic has challenged IT departments in ways unimaginable at the beginning of this year. Planned projects have either been shelved or expedited to an almost dangerous pace. IT budgets are having to be re-written at the same time that business is screaming for capabilities which might not have been envisaged for another 5 or so years. How can the IT leaders deliver this cloud transformation without exposing themselves to serious consequences further down the line? Gartner has plenty of research, advice and knowledge to help you along this challenging time.
It’s highly likely that there will be some form of cloud adoption within the organisation already, whether it be SaaS services like Microsoft Office 365 or Salesforce, or PaaS services delivered on AWS or Microsoft. The biggest issue that this will cause is governance and security, which could have disastrous consequences for an organisation or even a CIO. Not to mention runaway budgetary issues in the future. This guide has been put together to help anyone through the minefield of cloud adoption, with almost every vendor talking about their own cloud visions, achingly desperate to get you to commit and maybe lock yourself in to them.
- Start with strategy. This could be a specific cloud strategy or even more useful, a digital strategy. A resource to use to deliver this quickly is Gartner’s “The Cloud Strategy Cookbook” found here. Without spoiling the surprise (and paywall!) certain statements need to be made by senior management. Firstly is:
- Why Cloud? The pandemic has demanded an agility that the public cloud is best placed to deliver, so agility is definitely one reason. However just stating agility is like opening up a new box of chocolates and trying only one of the hundreds of flavours… For completeness of research see here (Blame my year in Belgium if you get cravings!). There are many other reasons for Public Cloud adoption – do you have an AI strategy, or how are you going to use Machine Learning in your supply chain? How are you going to Automate the infrastructure delivery for a new service? The list goes on.
- Since application delivery, process and handling of Personal Information will be automated, senior management need to say how much risk they are willing to live with. In more regulated industries, the less risk. A strategy needs to understand this position and build security capabilities accordingly.
- Pan Business Strategy. Public Cloud adoption is certainly helping all parts of the business function in a remote and agile way, but other changes Public Cloud can and will bring about with challenge the status quo of every department, precisely in the same way the pandemic has. This inevitable change needs to be embraced for the business “new normal” (sorry for hanging onto a much abused phrase).
- Co-ordinate the change, either with a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE) or an empowered devops team. Research into the CCoE at Gartner is extensive, with higher level information being found here, and more technical information being found here just for starters. These teams will be able to build the frameworks for governance, security, sourcing, architecture, brokerage as well as, and in this authors’ view, most importantly, the process to bring employees along in the journey, with correct collaboration, training and empowerment. Start with research found here and keep watching out for articles from the Gartner CIO leadership team.
- The Gartner documents discussed above also talk of the need for a Cloud Computing Advisory Council (other titles are available) that provides an interface between the IT functions and the lines of business and back office functions. Translating a technical capability into a business advantage is essential to justify investment of time and resources, by establishing this buy in in the Cloud Office, such changes will be more effective.
- Rapid adoption of these services can be facilitated by the service providers (see the Magic Quadrant here). However there are some elements that need to be owned and driven by the organization itself, namely the policies, procurement and onboarding processes for new cloud vendors. Also during the contract negotiation with these service providers, ensure there is emphasis placed on knowledge and skills transfer to your organisation that goes well beyond a simple documentation dump, but covers proper workshops, training and mentoring. This is not simply a way of being provider independent, but will also fuel the cloud office discussions as mentioned above.
- Don’t brush legacy under the carpet – sometimes there aren’t carpets big enough. Technical decisions made decades ago weren’t wrong then, and probably aren’t as wrong as you might imagine now. Non x86 hardware still has an essential role to play in some organisations, as well as the closely integrated information systems that have been built over the decades. Gartner talks of a bimodal world, where Mode 1 and 2 systems will work in concert with each other. Watch this space for some further research in defining and categorising legacy and how it interacts with this digital world.
- Establish KPIs that reflect the successful digital delivery, be it new digital revenue (have look here for some ideas on how this can be achieved), cost savings in supply chain by reacting in a more agile way, internal it/commercial team collaboration to develop new products, internal or external delivery time reduction due to process automation or reduction of company risk by automated security services. Each organization should base their KPIs on the key priorities of the business.
- Give your organisation a chance to reflect. Digital Transformation can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are in a vertical or geography that has not yet seen much cloud adoption. The vendors will be very keen to get you to sign up to all the services, and any decent account manager will be looking to ensure you continually sign up to the new. Instead of continually developing with the one vendor (which might still be the best path), take time to ensure feedback and lessons learnt are taken from all parts of the business. This learning culture is essential when moving into such uncharted digital waters.
As always Gartner is on hand to talk you through any of these points. Good luck!