Seven deadly sins of devising a cloud strategy

The road to cloud adoption hell is paved with good intentions. Here are the seven deadly sins when devising a cloud strategy.

What are the seven deadly sins when devising a cloud strategy? Giulio Roggero of Kubernetes developer Mia-Platform is our guide through cloud-adoption hell

Organisations across the globe are reaping the benefits of cloud-native applications, enabling them to scale and future-proof their operations. This trend looks set to continue with Gartner predicting that new IT investment will focus on cloud options in 2023 with a projected 11.3 per cent growth in software spending, the highest rate of forecasted growth of any IT sector.

Cloud adoption is essential to an organisation’s digital transformation. In addition to scalability, cloud applications can be quicker to deliver and allow easier integration with third-party services. Add speedier time-to-market of new online services and the potential to automate business processes, and cloud technologies make for a compelling proposition.

However, it’s one thing to talk about the benefits of cloud technology while it’s another to successfully implement cloud services into your existing IT infrastructure. Many organisations have begun the process of moving to the cloud, but there are some basic pitfalls that you should try to avoid. Falling into even one of these mistakes can in fact frustrate all the benefits of cloud computing.

Seven deadly sins of devising a cloud strategy

Here we outline the seven deadly sins of devising a cloud strategy and offer advice on how to avoid them.

#1 – Over-reliance on legacy systems

Those enterprises that rely on outdated legacy IT infrastructure will find it difficult to introduce scalability, flexibility and the increased performance features that come with cloud adoption. Not only does this mean that they are falling behind their competitors due to a lack of efficiency and agility, but it limits growth.

Leveraging cloud native applications and a process of continuous integration and deployment reduces the workload of legacy systems. This not only generates savings in infrastructure but also in annual licensing costs. Furthermore, cloud services deliver real-time data to support business critical decisions, which simplifies processes, streamlines the deployment of new digital features, and enables businesses to react to emerging market trends.

#2 – Getting caught in lock-in

Relying on a single vendor to implement a cloud strategy is an inflexible approach that leaves enterprises isolated when it comes to maintaining control over the performance of their digital platform. It can mean having little or no say in which services and providers can be adopted while being locked-in to lengthy service agreements, even when prices rise, or when service levels fall off. This is particularly pertinent given the dramatic reduction in the cost of cloud services in recent years. For example, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously predicted cloud computing costs would reduce by half every 18 months.

The best approach is to seek options where you will only lock-in by value – if an application is working well for your business, then you will want to keep it. If, on the other hand, you are locked into long agreements, you may well find that technology moves on in that time, but you will miss out on the upgraded solutions. In any case, opt for the solutions where you can easily change vendors and retain ownership over the software artefacts created.

#3 – Neglecting cloud sustainability

The topic of sustainability is a priority for most organisations around the globe, particularly given the amount of power required to support cloud data centres and servers. Greenpeace estimates that the technology sector will consume 20 per cent of the world’s total electricity by 2025.

Prioritising the development of sustainable initiatives should be front of mind for all business leaders. For example, operators such as Kube-Green can reduce CO2 emissions in the tech sector by optimising the energy consumption of server infrastructure. Kube-Green manages the downscale of Kubernetes clusters outside of working hours to reduce carbon emissions by an average of 30 per cent.

#4 – Forgetting the purpose of cloud adoption

The reason organisations are moving to the cloud is to simplify complex business processes. However, this can easily be forgotten if cloud environments become difficult to manage. Ask yourself how much of my devops team’s time is spent carrying out routine management updates and maintenance rather than focusing on developing the core applications that actually add value? Implementing cloud management platforms and multi-platform management will take care of the nuts-and-bolts infrastructure for you, so that the cloud strategy only needs to focus on innovative projects with clear ROI.

#5 – Neglecting cost management

Losing track of costs is easily done when implementing a cloud strategy, especially in cases when the scale of the transformation is significant. It’s imperative to identify areas where resources are being mismanaged and then eliminate waste. For example, in a sector such as financial services, which has traditionally been slow to adopt cloud computing, taking a “rightsizing” approach will help identify areas that have not been provisioned correctly. They can then be reconfigured to optimal levels. In practice, this means only purchasing cloud services that a business actually needs and that it will use. Rightsizing significantly reduces waste and will lead to streamlined operations and cost savings.

#6 – Assuming cloud adoption is an IT-exclusive problem

A common barrier to the adoption of cloud computing is the assumption that it is exclusively the concern of the IT department. This isn’t the case in a modern workplace! In fact, IT impacts and influences every single part of a business in one way or another. As such, you need buy-in for any digital transformation initiative from stakeholders across the organisation, whether junior staff that will be using the tools daily, or at board level where leaders want to know the investment is contributing to success. Yes, change is hard, but it’s also essential for growth. Without appropriate buy-in, a cloud strategy will meet blocks along the way, which will slow down the return on investment. Include all departments and relevant stakeholders in the development and implementation of your strategy from the beginning of the project, if you want to avoid the deadly sin of exclusion.

#7 – Trying to move everything over to the cloud

There’s a misconception that a digital transformation project is going to involve moving all aspects of your operations into the cloud. However, workloads are not all equal. The key to a successful cloud strategy is to carefully assign the aspects to the cloud that will have a measurable impact on the bottom line. Start with the changes that are going to feed the return on investment straight away, and then move onto longer term gains. The transition to cloud computing is a continual process and full cloud maturity won’t be achieved overnight. Develop a roadmap that encourages steady progression and inclusion. Business leaders need to be realistic about their organisation’s current digital posture and avoid implementing complex, unrealistic plans.

The deadliest sin of all

Like the original seven deadly sins, it’s difficult to pick one as the “deadliest”. However, by devising an effective cloud strategy which works in harmony with your business objectives, and focuses on core needs rather than wants, you’ll deliver realistic, and perhaps more virtuous, value in your organisation.

Giulio Roggero is CTO at Mia-Platform


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