In my role at TriNimbus as VP and GM, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with numerous IT leaders who are grappling with the strategic questions around how to leverage the numerous business and technological advantages public cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, offer.
The more common themes in these discussions are related to how to get started, what the changes will mean for, business and finance, operations and security, skills development and people, and my favorite, what the “gotchas” are. To be fair, there are gotchas.
Cloud isn’t going away. Rather, it is transforming how IT services are being created and delivered. Cloud is, looked at one way, the electricity of the new digital world. It’s time to tool up and start your journey.
Cloud giants such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) have created global API driven platforms that are pushing the transformation of IT similar to how the more familiar power generation and transmission platforms we are accustomed to and have been using through a very familiar and usable interface aka API – the plug – transformed our lives in so many unpredictable ways.
At first glance, leveraging the cloud might feel like the equivalent of trying to wire all your appliances to a solar power supply with a bundle of cables from your box of “we better keep that cable” cables. A challenge and probably not good idea to tackle without some expert guidance.
I recently read a post by John McAuliffe, President at Leonardo Worldwide, entitled “Strategy without execution is just hallucination”. In the post, John states, “Execution is where everything comes together, or goes completely off the rails.” Admit it, it’s true.
A search for “cloud adoption” on Amazon.com turns up frankly, not much; though, there is a lot being written and discussed on the topic. Stephen Orban, Head of Enterprise Strategy at Amazon Web Services recently posted an ebook on cloud best practices which is a collection of his posts on Medium. Various topics relating to cloud adoption were presented by speakers from Samsung, Lonely Planet, shomi and others at the Canadian Executive Cloud & DevOps Summit recently held in Vancouver.
How well you execute the cloud adoption journey, how you go about migrating workloads and then supporting those workloads will have a direct impact on your near and long term success. Here are some things you should consider.
#1 Avoid the perils of going it alone, consider outside help.
I get it. You and your team are builders and you have super smart people. Cloud is something new and fun to work on. The possibilities seem endless. You know that you need the skills in-house anyway and you have a team of self-learners, so why not just get to it. Besides, your boss might question your ability if you suggest bringing in an outside consultant. Or maybe you or your boss just “don’t like consultants”.
Migrating to the cloud requires a new set of skills and new methods of design, implementation and support that are different in many cases from the more familiar used in physical and virtualized, hybrid, converged, heterogeneous etc etc IT environments. You may not have all the skills needed already in-house.
In going it alone, you will increase the risks of ending up with poorly architected solutions that may not be able to meet your SLA, OLA, RPO and RTO targets and you will not gain from any of the benefits of working with cloud experts. This could seriously derail your efforts and even your career.
In a recent Innovation webinar “The Cloud, Technology and Transformation” on hbr.org, George Westerman, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Digital Business, suggests that when working with a vendor you should make sure that you are engaging them not to just build your solutions on their own but to engage with your team and execute the project together so you get the added benefit of building internal capabilities. I agree.
Going at it alone will ultimately take much longer and be costlier and carry greater risk than if you team up with an expert. A new class of modern, born-in-the-cloud integrators, such as TriNimbus, are laser focused (sorry) on cloud and are best suited to work with you to provide the advice, implementation and support services needed to achieve your business goals.
#2 Get your cloud integrator involved in high-level and low-level discussions
A critical step in the evolution is teaming up with a cloud integrator that specializes not just in giving high-level advice or reselling but one that has the focus, experience and skills to design, migrate and support your workloads on the cloud.
The cloud is a fast moving and ever changing entity as is evidenced by the hundreds of new features and numerous altogether new services released by AWS each year and numerous price drops. Navigating this world and taking full advantage of it requires a focused partner but more important is that the partner must be engaged at all levels of the organization.
They should assist your organization with the cloud adoption journey right down to writing the code, templating, automating and enabling your team with new skills development collaboratively. TriNimbus has developed a co-sourcing model that focuses on this approach specifically.
Specialist integrators will not only follow best practices but will be a defining force for “next-practices” by applying what they have learned and evolving more optimized, performant and cost optimized deployments.
Much in the same way that the cloud itself eliminates the undifferentiated heavy lifting of IT infrastructure, enlisting the help of a born-in-the-cloud integrator will further optimize and add efficiency to your cloud adoption journey that will benefit your operations and ongoing costs – no matter the size of your organization or project.
#3 Start thinking “DevOps” and Automate everything, almost.
You have probably heard the term “DevOps”. It’s just how things are done in the cloud, right?
The reason I say “start thinking DevOps” here is that this can be an evolution in and of itself, which I will write about separately, but it is a necessary step to start to think about a new way of doing things that can really improve how you deliver services.
When you move to the cloud you eliminate all of the physical components of the delivery from raising capital to physical procurement to security. You no longer need to spend your hard earned dollars on costly data center space, servers, storage, firewalls, application delivery controllers (load balancers) and switches (all in duplicate at least if you require high-availability) so you can focus on the improving the quality and efficiency of delivery of infrastructure for your workloads be they corporate workloads such as email or ERP or your customer-facing products and services.
Using best practices for the design and automated provisioning and configuration of infrastructure in the cloud from the start will pay huge dividends as you progress on your cloud adoption journey.
Ultimately, the Cloud is more than just infrastructure. It also offers platform services (PaaS), Software (SaaS) among other things that can be leveraged strategically. It is important to remember what John said in his post, “Execution is where everything comes together, or goes completely off the rails.”
Attempting to make this journey with a poorly constructed or absent of a set of plans, alone or by blindly pushing your already allocated team to get there asap (whatever that means), the revolution method, manually and without the proper guidance could net you and your team a load of pain in late nights, costly downtime and unexpected costs. Evolve and succeed on your cloud adoption journey. Consider the three points above and you will be taking the first step of evolving towards a successful cloud adoption.