From its early beginnings as an R&D project supporting low key workloads, cloud has developed into the dominant means of supporting IT services. It makes sense: cloud services are innovative and flexible with low cost profiles, while delivering reliability and security.
But when organisations want to grow and professionalise cloud, they need to mature the cloud experience. We see a lot of examples where momentum in the cloud journey is lost, costs exceed budgets and enthusiasm for cloud diminishes. This article covers how to avoid the most common cloud integration mistakes.
What causes cloud integration mistakes? And how can they be addressed?
There are plenty of stories where organisations implement cloud with great success, and these tend to dominate news in our space. But nobody’s showcasing the less successful ones.
When cloud isn’t as successful as advertised, when you’re not living up to the hype, you start to doubt and question things. And guess what: you’re not the only one.
We see a growing number of customers asking for help in this situation. We’re getting more and more involved in cloud advisory, rebooting the cloud journey and maturing cloud efforts in organisations.
But you might be wondering...
Why are some organisations more successful than others?
All organisations are different. Some applications are a better fit to run in cloud than others and some organisations have more complex (compliance, risk or technical) requirements than others.
For example, a cloud-mature organisation like Netflix that has developed services based on cloud will have fewer issues running cloud than an industrial organisation with large numbers of legacy applications running on their own machines. A financial institution like a bank has many more rules and regulations to consider than a retailer with an online store.
So, if you’re looking for comparisons, try to compare yourself in your own industry and your own region.
Am I doing something wrong?
Well, probably yes. But don’t feel bad. You’re likely migrating to cloud for the first time. And things are hard if you’ve never done them before - remember the complexity when buying your first house, choosing a first school for your kids or trying to properly find your way through traffic in your first driving lesson?
It takes experience and knowledge to migrate to cloud in an efficient way. And you gain experience and knowledge by trying. Or by finding somebody who has run cloud migration before, like peers in your industry and region, or cloud-native partners (like us).
Is cloud really for me? And if it is, how can I reboot my cloud journey?
One of the first things we do is dig into whether or not cloud is really something valuable for your organisation. Spoiler alert: It almost always is, but perhaps not for all of your business processes or systems. We can project what the value and ROI will look like, too.
The, we can take a look at your case and diagnose the key areas and what you can do to reevaluate and reboot your cloud journey. These are often around better educating management in cloud, remapping or updating your cloud strategy, aligning roles and responsibilities accordingly and better connecting your cloud processes.
What are the five most common cloud integration mistakes?
We can’t analyse every situation in this blog. But we do see these common sources of stagnation in cloud journeys and frustration in cloud teams when that you might recognise:
1. Treating cloud as a special case
Coming from either an R&D project or grown as a pilot project by IT people, cloud is often historically grown into the organisation, and not properly procured as an IT resource. That means it’s often treated as a special, isolated entity, with a separate team of experts, not properly connected to other IT or business processes. This tends to create an island of cloud operations, instead of being a fully integrated part of the organisation.
2. Treating cloud as standard IT
While cloud should not be a special, isolated case, it’s not the same as traditional IT either. For cloud you don’t need to worry about hardware or a lot of connectivity configurations. And many of the trivial software activities are done for you by the hyperscaler. But things do need to be integrated properly.
Let’s take asset management as an example. Your cloud assets are different from classical IT assets and tend to be much more dynamic, they won’t easily fit into your standard asset management process. And (if you do it well) cloud is configured using scripts, so cloud change management is more like classical release management than classical change management.
3. Most managers don’t really understand cloud
Not always true of course, but in general the (higher) management has grown up with and understands classical IT. They know cloud as the alternative, see it as a cheap virtual datacenter solution, and have maybe heard a little about what shared responsibility means.
But to manage cloud correctly, the leadership really needs solid knowledge of cloud, what it is, and how it should be run. Security managers, for example, often struggle with the concept of how to manage security across the entire stack of shared responsibility, just like risk and compliance managers.
4. Missing governance
Governance is the way you manage who is responsible for what. Most of the time, the high-level responsibilities are well defined. Especially with a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), which forces you to think about which cloud services are offered centrally, and which need to be locally done by the business, service or application teams.
But the devil is in the detail, especially on topics like monitoring and alerting, identity and access management, security management or risk management. Often there are gaps or duplications in the cloud governance model for these issues.
5. Lack of continuity in key cloud positions
Cloud expertise is rare, so often a significant number of people working on cloud, in the CCoE for example, are external. This can be very useful, as a flexible way of getting the expertise in, but it’s also vital to create a process which allows continuity in positions like CCoE owner, lead cloud architect or cloud portfolio manager. These key positions are interconnected within the organisation, and it takes a long time to build the relationships with peers to perform well in those positions.
What does a best-practice cloud approach look like?
What steps can be taken to reduce cloud integration mistakes?
Maybe this post already pointed you towards some causes of why your cloud journey is not progressing as expected. That would be great, especially if you are able to address the causes yourself. If you do not have an idea how to address your situation, you might be interested in my next blog, which gives five steps to get your cloud integration approach right.
If your situation is different - and it might be, as all organisations are different - you can consider our Cloud Governance Discoverer workshop to check in which extent you are covering your cloud integration activities, and where you have room to improve. In a broader sense, maybe a cloud maturity assessment might fit your needs better, to also include cloud operations.
Find out more about our transformation advisory services here, or contact Sander Nieuwenhuis, Nordcloud GRC Advisory Lead, in the form below.
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Sander is standing by to help your organisation avoid cloud integration mistakes