It is evident that since the onset of the pandemic it has seemed as if every organization has been rushing into the cloud first— and in many cases that’s exactly what has happened. More importantly, most of the organizations wants to deliver competitive advantage through disruptive technologies such as the cloud, and this typically requires approaches that extend beyond traditional lift and shift of legacy systems.
Accordingly, the demand for high agility and time to market is creating a compelling case for critical portions of their portfolios to be transformed to a more cloud-native form-factor.
In today’s world, when we considered cloud-first paradigm it largely revolve around two distinct poles:
- The “lift and shift” approach, where applications and associated data are moved to the cloud without being redesigned; And by far this is the fastest approach is to lift and shift the whole environment
- The “cloud-first” approach, where applications are developed or redesigned specifically for the cloud nativity. But when businesses want to drive new features such as customer-centricity or take full advantage of what the cloud offers then, companies need to really sit down and look at the applications and infrastructure to evaluate what the overall strategy should be and understand why they want to move to the cloud first
Hence, regardless of whether your organization is going fully cloud-native or taking a hybrid approach, significant strategic shifts are necessary for cloud-first success, and from my experience below are the necessary steps
Cultural Shift in organizational thinking
To unlock the full potential of cloud-first model, an organization should adopt cloud-native as an organizational culture. Which implies the need to fundamentally shift in mindset away from traditional waterfall development walk towards more agile development
Practices such as DevOps, DevSecOps and automation are major that an organization must focus to bridge the gap between Developers and Operations teams there by enabling fast paced delivery. Such cloud-native strategic approach must be driven by top management. There by, significantly reducing time to market and to evolve quickly to create innovative products and services
Enfold cloud-native principles
- Organizations should ensure their developers accept well-defined, cloud-native principles, and especially the use of APIs, microservices, and a modern data architecture
- Cloud-native principles are more generic, hence addressing observability in the cloud, adopting, scaling, repairing, rollback and modern design. Your capabilities are critical to meet the availability and expectations of the end user
Right project planning
- Gauge what approach you’re taking — multicloud, hybrid, containerization, etc. — and make sure you’re taking things in bite-sized pieces. By doing this, you can build out the skill sets and get the right teams in place. Pick one platform at a time and ramp up the skills around it.
- It is not possible to simply transform an existing IT team into the new world of the cloud. Additional new skills and ideas are needed from outside. The key to success is to find the right mix of skills.
Establish a cloud center of excellence
- A cloud center of excellence is the best-practice approach to drive cloud-enabled transformation. And by now, many organizations might have already created a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) to highlight what works and avoid what doesn’t.
- A CCOE provides central IT with a way to express the CIO’s cloud strategy and provide governance through policies and cloud management tools, as well as gather and disseminate cloud best practices.
- This should be the primary vehicle for leading and governing cloud adoption across all services models — security, support, development, infrastructure, platform and software as a service (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS).
Mainly Don’t Compromise security
- Be it a lift and shift or a cloud-first transformation — must include a plan for ensuring cybersecurity. That’s because many of the threats organizations face today are related to the cloud and access to cloud-based IT resources.
- Enterprises need to consider solutions such as cloud security posture management (CSPM), which automates the identification and remediation of risks across cloud offerings, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
- The shift to a cloud-centric approach should need to be secure. Companies need to ensure that all aspects of security are covered, from identification, authorization and authentication of users to encryption of data and networks. Before adopting a cloud-native approach, it is important to identify the risks involved.
Evaluate a budget structure that works
There is a general agreement in the market and fueled in large part by cloud service providers, is that the cloud can save organizations lots of money via reduced capital expenditures, lower maintenance costs, and so on. But that doesn’t mean IT organizations should assume they don’t need to think about how much cloud services cost, and what kinds of terms make the most sense to keep costs under control across the enterprises.
Determine if you’ll be using a fixed-cost structure flexible for the cloud. Are you leveraging show back or chargeback to the business? And keep in mind seasonality. You want to have an idea of how often you scale up and shrink down and what that looks like. Building out cost models is key for how you can build a budget. e.g: With a traditional data center, companies buy and install hardware with workload peaks in mind. And with the cloud, you no longer have to do that because you can size for the average workload with the understanding that you’ll scale up for your peaks and know when to scale back down.
Note: And of course, Building, deploying, and maintaining applications in the cloud using cloud-native technologies requires a different skillset than doing the equivalent in a data center. So there is a significant talent gap in the industry right now, so upskilling, retraining, and hiring must have a deliberate plan associated with it.