Cloud offers flexibility without having to worry about hardware limitations allowing your business to focus on innovation and to not worry about IT capacity, and other operational complexities. It’s no surprise that consumption of cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) has been continuously growing. Gartner estimates the cloud market to be worth about $331 billion by 2022 (Gartner, 2019). A number of market research studies show that cloud adoption is and has been on top of the CIO agenda (Flexera, 2019).
In the last five years, almost every solution, every transformation that I’ve worked on has had some cloud considerations both public and private. Cloud adoption is no longer optional, it is a key enabler for new business operating models. Enterprises across the globe are rushing to consume cloud services, otherwise they risk losing their competitive edge.
Adopting cloud services is a great idea however it comes with its own challenges. And here are five key considerations to examine before beginning your journey.
- Lay the right foundations
In my experience, many organisations rush their cloud adoptions without considering design and best practices in detail. When cloud adoption spreads across the organisation and its complexity increases, the once shiny new beacon cloud of hope becomes a horrible mess to manage and operate.
It’s essential to adhere to best practices and principles of architecture while designing your current datacentres or hosting solutions. This same considerations should also be given to your cloud infrastructure. Especially, if Infrastructure-as-a -Service (IaaS) is going to be your primary method of cloud consumption. IaaS is the most favoured choice of consumption for organisations beginning their cloud journey. So, it is even more critical to design the cloud architecture with appropriate principles and frameworks from the start. And if you don’t, it’ll become an almost unsolvable and expensive jigsaw puzzle to fix later. The goal is to ensure easy cloud navigation.
Some organisations incorrectly assume moving to cloud is a silver bullet to eliminate decades of technical debt. It’s critical to set the correct expectations with business and IT stakeholders early on. For example, a piece of code written by a code ninja in the early 90s that no one dares to touch will still give you the same pain, for you are not solving the problem you are only moving it from A to B.
- Operational governance and processes are necessary
I’ve lost count of organisations where I’ve seen documented-to-death processes (incident, problem, change etc) and governance models for their traditional IT (infrastructure and applications). However when it comes to their cloud infrastructure, particularly public clouds it is almost non-existent.
It’s never intentional, but for some reason (which is still a mystery to me) they rarely consider extending their operational governance and processes to cloud infrastructure. And when they have, they have found it to be complicated and time consuming which risked delaying the whole adoption program, so it’s ignored.
Always keep your operational governance and process considerations in mind before embarking on the adoption journey. On a public cloud, things can very easily spiral out of control for lack of governance and controls.
- Security is your responsibility
Moving to a public cloud could can often make your IT estate secure because you can leverage a large number of pre-deployed services. However it is dependent on how you are consuming public cloud, securing your cloud services is your responsibility. The cloud service provider can and will secure their infrastructure however you control access and usage of your slice of the pie, it is as secure or unsecure as you make it.
In a nutshell, don’t assume that your cloud service provider is responsible for end-to-end security, they aren’t. Security considerations should be at the core of your designs. It is better to be prepared than to be sorry.
- Skilled people and trusted expertise are the key to success
In my experience, of over 16 years, where I have led or been a part of number of infrastructure transformation, consolidation and migration programs, the most successful programs have engaged the right stakeholders early on.
The winning projects have been where people with the right skills were engaged at the right time. The most important aspect of this involves the upskilling of the current teams so that there is no interruption in the business providing its services or goods following the program delivery, and the same stands true for cloud adoption.
Public clouds have numerous services available with more being released daily. It can be daunting to identify which services fit your business needs and then design, configure and operate them. At present, there is stiff competition to hire people with the right cloud skills because of high demand and short supply, as well them being an expensive resource. To ensure availability of skilled expertise it is best to engage a cloud services partner, who can help you make steady progress through your cloud adoption journey.
- It can become very expensive very quickly
Unlike traditional infrastructures where it is slightly easier to control the usage of resources as you are limited by the available capacity, public clouds don’t have similar limitations. In public clouds your costs can increase rapidly and once you have consumed a resource you have to pay for it, even if it was in error. I’ve seen organisations running up huge unexpected bills and later trying to figure out who consumed what.
Beginning with the right design principles and frameworks (process and technology) and applying appropriate limits for projects with budget limitations helps avoid unexpected nasty surprises. Leverage tools and use cloud cost controls offered by your public cloud service vendors to estimate and limit your costs.
These five considerations are based on my experience and industry best practices and will form a sound base for a successful cloud adoption journey.