Want to get value from the cloud? Take a holistic approach

Technology isn’t the hardest part of a cloud implementation. Cultural change, planning and execution are the biggest barriers to achieving success.

That’s why getting cloud right requires a holistic approach, said Eric Johnson, North American Hybrid Cloud Practice Leader with HPE, at a recent CanadianCIO virtual roundtable. “We suggest that organizations start with a transformational model,” he said. “It takes a comprehensive plan to transform your organization. Look at where you want to be.”

For example, organizations often get stuck on developing the business case for cloud, or on bringing the plan to execution, said Johnson. “It’s a journey that has to have an orchestrated set of events to get value.”

Start with a ‘right mix’ analysis of the workloads

It’s important to analyze your applications portfolio at the beginning of a cloud implementation project, Johnson said. “Determine your future state based on the metrics that are most important to your organization.”

The analysis should consider three key questions. The first is whether the organization will gain anything by moving a legacy application via the “lift and shift” approach. “In most cases, the answer is no,” said Johnson. He cautioned that moving applications on a piecemeal basis could lead to sticker shock given that the workloads in the cloud may be pulling data from those on premises. “Unless you plan it out and, in a sequence, you’ll get bit,” warned Johnson.

Secondly, the organization must think about whether it should move to cloud native solutions to improve its ability to scale. And finally, it may want to take advantage of the resources offered by a software as a service (SaaS) provider.

At the same time, Johnson noted that “analysis paralysis” can be a common pitfall. It makes sense to focus on putting new applications in the cloud, while analyzing the existing situation, as proposed by one participant . “However, it still needs to be run by one team as one solution set because of interaction between apps in the cloud and those on prem,” he said.

For those applications that must stay on premises, organizations can get a subscription model that scales, said Anthony Nornabell, Canadian Sales Director for GreenLake Cloud Services with HPE Canada. “It mimics a cloud experience on prem,” he said. “You can still have the benefits of cloud-like agility as you figure out your journey.”

Ultimately, the goal is to create a common experience across all solutions in a hybrid cloud world, said Johnson. “You can’t just optimize one app over another.”

Address the showstoppers

Resistance to change and a lack of skills are currently the biggest stumbling blocks to moving forward with cloud, said Johnson. Many of the participants agreed, citing a lack of buy-in by employees who have always worked on premises and a high staff turnover rate.  At the same time, transformational technology, like cloud, can be valuable in recruiting and retaining talent.

Automation can help address resource gaps, said Johnson. Infrastructure can be automated so that it doesn’t require as many people to operate and maintain it. As well, “these days, people are thinking about what makes them happy,” he said. “Automation is a way to help align people with more compelling work that brings them joy.”

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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