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How to keep your Cloud transformation ambitions on track

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There was an interesting survey published earlier this summer that highlighted how cloud transformation ambitions are being thwarted, with less than a third of respondents reporting that cloud had been successfully embedded across their organisations. For the vast majority, there’s a recurring pattern of dramatic increases in the time-to-value of the cloud migration programmes; and little comfort in hindsight’s blinding revelations of where it all went wrong.

The latter revolved – and continues to revolve for those still wrangling with change - around three inter-related issues: underclubbing the scale, in terms of size, complexity and cost, of the migration project; lacking sufficient expert resource at both an advisory and delivery level; and trying to drive through a program even when you know you are badly compromised.

What I find interesting is the tacit implication in the findings that organisations have made a significant misjudgement. That seems a bit harsh. We know that technology, people, process and change are not the happiest of bedfellows anywhere, but here, it’s new territory for a lot of us. This isn’t a switch from one software variant to other, or a change of like-for-like data centre locations. This is putting business and workloads into a completely new environment, with a completely new lesson set to learn, a new network topology to map and master; perhaps we should be more charitable and just put it down to (lack of) experience.

Breaking through barriers

Of course, that may be of no comfort to those who are yet to embark on these major Cloud-inspired change programmes. But wait, what did 51% of respondents say? That in retrospect, they would have hired experienced cloud experts to help them; experts who would have afforded a greater understanding of the technical and non-technical barriers and supplied the skilled resource to break through them.

However, that brings into play a brand new relationship potentially, and therefore another hurdle to overcome: how to choose the right partner? There are a fair few ingredients that go into that choice – chemistry and commercials will be influencing factors but prime among them must be a clear and proven rigour around Cloud – the business thinking, the financial modelling, the operational reshaping, the technical reengineering, the cultural shifts. A partner must demonstrate capability and capacity backed up by maturity, depth and track record. They must add solid value, not dead weight.

Because of the cloud transformation projects we’ve already been involved with, we’ve learned a lot of lessons. They’ve helped us develop a ‘Cloud Transformation Process’ that others could benefit from. That process is now front and centre of client projects; it’s what ensures we are talking about positive outcomes and rapid time-to-value come project review time.

The concision of the workflow hides the amount of work involved, with the overall methodology being broken down into workstreams and sub-workstreams. But it’s only this sort of depth and detail that will close up the typical fault lines that develop.

Management through method

The survey mentioned earlier highlighted a number of issues, and I thought it would be useful to illustrate how our process maps to and manages these, with a number of examples:

Issue #1 - Planning: Lack of vision and strategy for cloud transformation

The Strategy phase of the methodology includes a Questionnaire and Workshop to understand business objectives, reasons for adoption and to gain alignment on these. The outcomes from this stage frame the on-going work to ensure decisions are aligned with the strategy.

Issue #2 - Workload placement: High cost of upgrading, rationalising and replacing legacy apps.

The Assess phase of the Methodology evaluates six different workload transformation approaches from both a benefits (and cost) versus risk perspective. We recently modelled four different routes for a client to allow them to make an optimal choice around cost/performance.

Issue #3 - Execution: Workload management in the cloud

The Assess phase includes evaluation criteria around usability, flexibility, whether the workload is tried and tested in the cloud, and if it isn't then determine and plan for the accompanying risks. Our ongoing benefits measurement will also assess the effectiveness of workload management in the cloud post-implementation.

What I hope this illustrates is that there are ways to achieve significantly better outcomes than those experienced by so many of the respondents to that survey. That a structured approach and a skilled partner can mitigate risk and deliver the sort of financial and operational benefits promised in the original business case. For that optimal cloud journey, the onus now has to be how you go – and who goes with you.

For more information, contact the team on 0800 983 2522 or email sayhello@redcentricplc.com.

Roger Waterhouse, Product Manager - Infrastructure & Data Services at Redcentric

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