Cloud success requires a mindset change
By Alister Dias, Vice President & Managing Director, ANZ, VMware
Friday, 06 July, 2018
With almost all organisations now migrating their workloads into the cloud to some extent, why haven’t more businesses successfully embraced a ‘cloud-first’ strategy? Going cloud first involves organisations making the cloud their default choice for infrastructure, applications and development — something many start-ups and smaller, newer businesses do without thinking.
Yet larger enterprises tend to run up against ongoing delays and compatibility issues when they try to move to the cloud in a similarly significant manner.
These enterprises have something their cloud-born competitors don’t — history. The older a business, the more complex and intertwined its processes and systems — and untangling that web of past decisions is no easy task.
Doing so, however, is essential for the success of any large-scale digital transformation, and especially the movement of core infrastructure to the cloud. Migrating a single, isolated workload may prove simple enough; migrating multiple interconnected applications, services and data creates exponential amounts of complexity.
Ignoring a fragmented, complicated infrastructure history — or running roughshod over it in a bid to transform faster — leaves businesses building on shaky ground. While things may run fine at first, IT leaders often find themselves encountering growing complications and risks as they take on more ambitious projects in the cloud.
Unless historical on-premise issues are resolved before any cloud-first strategy gets underway, businesses run the risk of simply transporting those very issues into a new environment — one where fixing them can prove even more challenging than before.
Integration that lasts
How can IT leaders avoid history repeating itself as they make the cloud their default choice? First, they should recognise that the cloud itself is complex. Almost two-thirds of Australian businesses have taken up hybrid cloud as their infrastructure of choice, with a whopping 87% of global enterprises now adopting a multicloud approach — using multiple, separate clouds to power their business requirements.
If IT leaders want to successfully navigate the range of cloud choices out there, they need to simplify their existing on-premise systems as much as possible. That means doing the homework: infrastructure audits, hardware and data consolidation, and a deliberate step-by-step approach to migration that leaves ample time to iron out issues as each workload enters or grows on the cloud.
IT leaders should resist the pressure to rush this process. A slightly slower, more measured move to the cloud, where technologies and processes go cloud first one at a time, creates a far more solid framework for growth than a series of overambitious sprints.
IT leaders also need tools to manage the cloud, or more likely clouds, that they adopt. Such solutions should not only accommodate the business’s current cloud footprint, but also be flexible enough to provision and integrate new cloud infrastructure when different parts of the business demand it.
In the case of software and application deployment, for example, the cloud-first approach requires developers to rapidly provision compute, storage and network resources from a range of public and private cloud environments — and ensure that all three work together seamlessly to support their new application.
Using a cloud integration platform such as VMware Cloud Foundation, those developers can access all cloud resources — public, private and hybrid — within the organisation, and integrate them under the one platform for the fastest and most frictionless deployment possible.
In such a scenario, the application may end up running on one cloud, or across different ones — it doesn’t really matter. The beauty of a cloud-first approach is that such concerns no longer hold back enterprises from scaling up or rolling out new services at a competitive speed.
They do, however, need some sort of cloud integration platform to make this happen and avoid the fragmentation and incompatibility issues that they experienced in their on-premise past.
Aim for the future
Finally, IT leaders must keep their eyes on the purpose of their cloud-first strategy. Cost efficiencies and faster scaling may excite some, but they’re only the by-products of going cloud first. The main goal usually is, and should always be, delivering a more customer-centric experience. Doing so is at the core of any business’ future growth.
And when IT knows its customer — anyone from an internal employee to a regular consumer — its leaders can focus and streamline their cloud deployments to focus on giving that customer exactly what they want, even better than they expect.
Many issues with on-premise infrastructure arose because businesses treated IT as a support function, rather than an engine for customer engagement and innovation. For cloud first to succeed, it must begin with that change in mindset about IT — no longer just ‘keeping the lights on’ as in the past, but playing a critical role in meeting the opportunities of the future.
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