Cloud transformation is not a matter of “if”; it is a matter of “how soon” and “how much.” It is true that the broader the scope of the transformation, the greater the benefits—but it is also true that the broader the scope, the bigger the corresponding risks. Here are the eight most crucial issues to bear in mind and, more importantly, how to avoid them.
1. Start from business
There is no need for the whole business to be transformed in one step. Identifying the priorities of the organization and aligning those to a maturity-driven phased approach will enable costs and benefits to be phased. Relating the transformation phases to business objectives will also make it easier to secure organizational commitment through the process.
2. Encourage organizational evolution
The transformation journey may start with a virtualization platform but to achieve cloud benefits, the organization must change. This change will require commitment from key governance functions such as service management and enterprise architecture. The “as-a-service” mindset must be part of the DNA of the transformation, and strong leadership is needed to overcome resistance to change. The silos have years of legacy constraints that will hold back the transformation journey, which must be built on a strong business case and a risk-managed plan. Ultimately, internal capabilities must compete with public services or they will become obsolete.
3. Put all the data on the table
In the analysis step, it is essential that all the data on existing systems and infrastructure is accessible, assessed, and understood from the outset of the process. Equally important is understanding the organizational structure and the cost of service assurance as well and an understanding to what extent silos slow down innovation.
4. Validate the transformation plan
Balancing investment in cloud sophistication with the scale of virtualization is critical to an efficient transformation. Use your goals and data to create a very detailed transformation plan that is backed and validated by clear financial models.
5. Watch your step
A server-centric approach can hold back the evolution of cloud benefits. For instance, virtualization can be very server-centric and can encourage investment in high-cost components, while an application-centric approach can build high-value services with many low-value components. The service catalog, rather than the platform, should clearly define service expectations. This is especially important in order to drive open and lower-cost commodity platforms.
6. Avoid customization
A common risk is that customization starts to occur whenever introducing new systems, and the benefit of simplification will then be lost. Understand what is actually needed and introduce this based on when the capability evolves rather than trying to force the introduction through costly customization. Another risk is growing systems integration cost and complexity as executives strive for a competitive market and no vendor lock-in. Open standards are a must in order to avoid spiraling integration customization costs.
7. Rely on service layers not silos
A cloud business model relies upon services rather than technology silos. Ultimately internal, private services need to be competitive with public ones. Virtualization is possible with existing silos, which is why this step is usually very technology-centric. The risk, however, is that the longer the organization waits to implement a services culture, the harder it gets.
8. Be aware of the impact of cloud on operations
Cloud is also a cultural change for the operational teams. A high focus on abstraction and automation requires a proactive mindset. DevOps is a term often used to describe the agile delivery of software from development to operations, and this approach is well matched to the demands of cloud service operations, which must be and end-to-end function rather than a silo.
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