IT principles and processes have typically not been architected with cloud services in mind. There is a wealth of information about the technologies behind these services and methods on how to use them, but how should organisations approach remodelling their internal processes for the cloud?
More than just technology swaps
For many businesses choosing to consume cloud can result in a massive change to operations. Procurement is different, the skills and knowledge base needs to be enhanced, security ‘in’ the cloud may be a different model to what an organisation is used to and there are many other potential changes that are more than just technology swaps and application rewrites.
For larger and/or more mature organisations, there is normally a great deal of risk due to security and internal/external compliance management which is integrated into business mechanisms. Whole logical structures are built around working within these mechanisms and over time, processes have been created and grown to ensure the business wheels keep turning.
Legacy ways of working and overcoming resistance
These processes are sometimes coupled to legacy ways of operating, procuring and delivering services. The processes are often cumbersome, weighty and do not lend themselves well to being adaptable to change. These processes may even be classified as wholly inefficient. The cost of working through the processes can often slow down approval of a project to a point where there is more time and effort spent on the approvals than on the technical execution of the project itself.
These problems are then often exacerbated further when there is a disconnect between the language used in the definitions of the internal architectural principles and approval processes and the ‘language’ of the cloud services. The cloud services may not map to the existing documented processes. However, the processes provide high degrees of comfort to an organisation and often the only time that a major rewrite of a process or processes is undertaken is when there is a massive external influence, such as a change in regulation with associated penalties, or the business has suffered some less than positive press coverage to name but two. Otherwise, an attitude of don’t fix what isn’t broken is the mantra of change.
Remodelling knowledge gap
When it comes to finding help on architecting/remodelling processes for the cloud it becomes apparent very quickly that opinion and expertise is limited especially when compared to the information on designing services for the cloud. There is no end to describing what good is in the cloud as every provider and vendor has very clear and valid opinions on what this is. They all have published numerous opinions (frameworks) on how to do things, there are white papers about digital transformation, migration, securing applications, decouple this, containerise that. They have all developed methodologies that leverage more disposable ways of consuming cloud, again with published valid opinions on the best way forward. And herein lies the problem, the sheer volume of information on what is ‘good’ is generic unless of course, the organisation that wrote it is the organisation reading.
Don’t settle for generic advice
We know that organisations are not generic. Although organisations may have similarities (such as those within certain verticals) in the form of regulations and business function divisions, there are still variations that make an organisation unique.
The Consulting Architecture (CA) Group which is a part of the Rackspace Professional Services functions is to create high and low-level cloud designs for customers and also to help bridge the generic to the unique as part of its technical delivery service. Using an expert who knows cloud services and can ‘translate’ and align the services with architectural principles and/or components of the organisation approval process can speed up the cloud application/service delivery.
The CA helps customers to deliver technical solutions and provides consultation for stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of cloud services and/or a single solution. The CA can provide additional architectural viewpoints that can help businesses reshape processes so they are agile and flexible as the cloud technologies that they are going to consume. Processes are in place for good reason but sometimes a fresh approach to delivering the required outcome is necessary.
We know that helping the customer to get to the next stage of their business and IT evolution may require additional insight beyond the technology view that typical solution architecture currently provides. Helping a project get to the ‘testing’ stage sooner, ultimately gets the service to market sooner. Therefore, the reshaping of (necessary) barriers coupled with detailed cloud service designs could be the enabler for success.