The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing is "a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."
Is your cloud a place where platforms of services share a set of common security and monitoring tools linked to a data lake that safely and compliantly stores information such that you can rapidly create and introduce a new feature or service? If yes, welcome to the digital cloud age. If not, you need to reconsider where you are on your journey and accelerate the path to cloud and digital. While hybrid strategies will exist for the next few years, Gartner believes that by 2025, most organizations will operate out of the cloud with limited personal capacity.
The cost of maintaining your infrastructure is becoming prohibitive, but more importantly, no longer making sense. Where do you want your financial resources allocated: keeping the lights on or generating innovation? The COVID pandemic has forced your customers and staff to rely on internet-based services. SaaS and the cloud are now the only viable technology strategy. The way you work should no longer be underpinned by software you write, but instead provisioned by trusted partners (Cloud Service Providers – CSP). The only exception is for unique products associated with your organization, but even then, these should be supported by the cloud. To read about some frequently asked cloud migration questions and our expert advice, check out this eBook.
Cloud challenges and opportunities
A useful analogy is thinking of your migration as a journey to a new land. You will encounter a variety of obstacles along the way, but when you arrive, the benefits will more than reimburse your effort.
Your journey must adopt these five principles to be successful:
- Relentless customer and staff usage focus with frequent feedback
- Never forget that continuity and sustainability of the business is a daily requirement (not an annual test)
- The shiny tools are not the solution. The culture of technology is what leadership must embrace and portray
- Data is king, and all of your design-thinking must be on how to obtain information safely that leads to the creation of quality and secure services
- Agility is fact-based decision-making on a real-time basis, which can now be performed by AI and cloud services
Cloud is a subscription-based model, so you must understand how and when you will be charged. Think of a mobile phone. If used in your locality, it is inexpensive but utilized elsewhere, and you will get an unpleasant surprise at the end of the month. In order to be more cost-effective, consider these questions:
- Should I rewrite the applications, or is there benefit to lift and shift them?
- If lift and shift, will this result in technical debt shortly?
- Should we stop supporting our custom-built applications and instead use SaaS (cloud and internet)?
- Do we have the skills to move to the cloud, and if not, how do we obtain them? Partnering with a CSP is a possibility, but we also want to avoid vendor lock-in.
It is easy for cloud initiatives to fail as the organization rushes towards automation and references architecture models without considering the impact on services, data flows, and security. You must learn how to take advantage of your CSP optimization offerings. Pilot, test, assess, understand, revise, and complete the move is the flow must be encouraged in small but rapid steps.
Software is the tool that underpins the way you work and services a customer or member of staff. Therefore, moving to the cloud does not begin with assessing what applications are in use but instead with how you want to work to take advantage of digital services. When you look at your applications, you can lose the ones that no longer fit with your future and apply the savings to cloud provisioning and skill training.
Your new culture requires technology skills across all levels to remain in business. Your move to the cloud will impact budgeting, funding, procurement, HR, marketing, and other processes. CSP's and coaches can help you begin your journey acting as guides to highlight how to circumvent obstacles or take advantage of shared services. No single CSP will provide everything you want, so ensure that your strategy is flexible enough that you can blend their capabilities with your requirements.
Currently, your applications probably do not provide you with real-time information on usage, cost, demand, and issues. Cloud services, no matter the source, all give this ability, which allows you to receive notifications that are customer and technology relevant, enabling rapid scaling to occur. Consider the news stories on organizations that have not planned for customer demand and therefore crumble under requests' weight. You need to scale up and down as necessary to service your customers and staff.
In your current infrastructure environment, you would never consider turning anything off until it was needed. Cloud finds this action expected: the development environment not in use, so turn it off. Even completely disassemble and reconstruct it when needed at the push of a button. Think of the savings as you consider the new ways of using cloud services.
Applications are no longer disparate pieces of code but instead modules of software that can be used by various users. Your services need to be blended such that a platform in the cloud can deliver them. Instead of hundreds of applications, think of 20-30 platforms (services or products) that your staff and customers need. Build them with a mix of SaaS and your own software based in the cloud facilitated by APIs, service catalogs, microservices, and containers. Those that adopt a platform strategy see savings 30-40% faster than those that move applications in other manners.
The cost of cloud is not in what you place into it but instead is priced on the way you utilize data. Your information is the essential asset after your employees in your organization. Careful consideration on what data you have, you need, how it is shared when it is archived, and how long, the rapidity of retrieval and all compliance rules must be part of your information cloud planning. Get it wrong, and you might find your data in a location that breaches local government rules resulting in a hefty fine.
DevSecOps is the data and platform design thinking that makes the cloud safe. Using zero-trust platforms ensure the best protection and cost model. Your security practices are now software modules embedded in your platforms to ensure that compliance is being met at all times. Test this rigorously and frequently. Trust nothing in your software until it passes these tests. Only by automating work and data flow wrapped around secure software can you keep your organization and customers safe. Cyber first thinking is mandatory to avoid hackers, data loss, and compliance breaches.
Cloud scalability is a push button or automated. The good news is then that what you need can be provisioned when you want it. The bad news is that this capability is not free. Think carefully as to how and when scalability will be allowed. The same goes with business continuity, whereby an outage can trigger the use of another location within seconds. This is not a given CSP service, and you must carefully plan and test (often) for its use.
Cloud encourages collaboration across your management team to work together to achieve the advantages of this technology. Cloud is no longer solely IT's domain, instead being an organization commodity for business product-platform owners. As such, avoid misuse with guardrail type governance. Avoid vendor lock-in by ensuring that your products can be quickly migrated to another CSP if required. Remove the human middleware where possible in your processes and rely on abstracted automation.
Moving to the cloud is a complicated journey. Learning from a cloud expert like Praecipio Consulting can help ease that complication and turn it into a flexible, tailored approach to your migration. We create custom migration plans to fit your organization's size so you can focus on the work that matters most. If you're looking to stay agile, deliver exceptional customer experiences and keep up with today's digital business infrastructure, drop us a line and jumpstart your Atlassian cloud migration.