IT Transformation: Optimizing Your Cloud Journey

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IT transformation isn’t a one-and-done project. The Rackspace Customer Cloud Journey framework breaks the process into six steps – plan, assess, design, migrate, manage and optimize.

Even though it’s listed as the final step, we approach optimization as the first step in a continuous cycle of finding opportunities to improve your cloud environment for efficiency and performance. The process of optimization allows you to realize the benefits of improved ROI through automation, cloud enhancements and performance gains as a continuous and on-going effort.

This is where you harness all of your newly transformed technology — to not only solve business problems but to also streamline operations. It’s where businesses who had to meet tight deadlines to move out their data centers, many choosing the “lift and shift” approach for time and cost considerations, can continue their evolution by “cloudifying” applications to truly leverage the best platform for overall performance, scale and cost.

Optimization is also where you start to see the impact of the culture change that comes with transformation. The benefits of sustaining this cultural change go beyond better performance and cost reductions to create a better overall workplace.

Deloitte’s Human Capital Report suggests that one in eight companies see culture and engagement as a major obstacle. Cultivating a culture of change is a driving factor in motivating existing talent and attracting new talent. More than ping pong tables, free snacks and slides, building culture encompasses the goals and strategies that inspire employees to bring their best to the job every day.

Transformation supports a culture of change by giving your IT team the opportunity to work on exciting new technologies and strategic improvements. With the implementation of these new technologies and processes, IT has the opportunity to move out of a purely maintenance role.

This evolved role includes learning and developing skills in new technologies, while also being involved in and focused on strategic projects that help grow the business and develop key differentiators. The CIO’s IT Transformation Survival Guide identifies seven high-level ways to know if you’re transformation succeeded. Many of those factors refer to culture-specific changes:

  • IT culture engages employees. The 2017 451 Research Hosting and Cloud Study reveals that 63 percent of IT stakeholders credit transformation with empowering employees. Empowered employees drive market innovation and fearlessly embrace technology shifts.
  • IT can attract, recruit and retain top talent. GE was able to reduce the ratio of routine to strategic work by IT staff from 20/80 percent to 74/26 percent. Traditional IT often meant long hours and job dissatisfaction. Your post-transformation environment will entice talent who want to work with latest technology and deployment models.
  • KPIs are in place and focused on business goals. The ability to set and meet KPIs fosters a feeling of victory that enhances the culture of transformation throughout the organization. Novelis was able to track metrics demonstrating that their IT team cut infrastructure build time by 40 percent after transformation.

As IT becomes a profit center, as opposed to a cost center, day-to-day work moves from reactive to proactive planning. Some optimization activities in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments include:

  • security,
  • application modernization,
  • strategic planning,
  • cost savings,
  • efficiencies and
  • business value

A survey of top cloud performers reveals that they are nearly five times more likely to approach cloud optimization as a continual process instead of a one-time exercise. To realize the benefits of your new environment, it’s critical to incorporate defined optimization processes. According to RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud survey, these are the top optimization activities:

  1. Monitor utilization and right-size instances: 45 percent.
  2. Automate shutdown of temporary workloads: 34 percent.
  3. Shutdown workloads during certain hours: 33 percent.
  4. Look for storage volumes not in use: 31 percent.

As your environment is transformed, many of the tedious tasks will be automated, giving your team more time to think about how to strategically use technology instead of focused on keeping it running. Your optimization strategy should mirror business goals as your build out and expand your footprint. The CIO’s IT Transformation Survival Guide sets forth a list of post-migration questions to ask as you set optimization goals:

  • Have you achieved the goals set during the planning and design phases?
  • Are you on track to achieve the expected long-term ROI?
  • How are your KPIs stacking up?
  • Are your service level agreements with your stakeholders improving?
  • Have you become the service provider of choice to the business, responsively brokering the internal and third-party cloud services end users are demanding?

If you’re not comfortable with the answers to those questions, start your optimization efforts there. Your high-level goals should revolve around supporting a culture of experimentation and innovation supported by infrastructure that lets the organization fail fast and re-launch with minimal impact. This continuous optimization keeps you ahead of the competition and realize your ‘Blue Ocean.’

For help moving through the phases of transformation, contact our Professional Services team or view more resources on our blog.

Rachel Cassidy serves as Rackspace Vice President of Global Solutions and Services. She arrived at Rackspace almost one year ago, to drive the transformation and launch of GSS from what was historically known as Technical Sales and Professional Services. Prior to Rackspace, Rachel spent a decade at Red Hat. She built out the pre-sales and professional services organization serving as VP of Global Professional Services for the first half of her tenure there, then worked to create a robust global partner ecosystem, serving for the last five years as Vice President of Global Partner and Technical Enablement recognized as CRN’s Women of the Channel Power 100 and CRN Channel Chiefs. She is successful at scaling business in size, focus, revenue, and reach in multiple service areas, including professional services, technical consulting, support services, partner services, services marketing and technical pre-sales engineering, with a focus on customer and partner empowerment. Based in Atlanta, Rachel has demonstrated success building high-performance teams in high tech industries as a leader in innovation, customer service, change management, staging for scale, solution selling and development and enablement of the partner ecosystem (SI’s, ISVs, OEM, Channel partners). Cassidy holds a BS from Cornell University and an MSM from Georgia Tech.

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