Moving to the cloud was supposed to be simple, right? So why are many IT managers — even those experienced in IT change — finding cloud adoption far more difficult than they expected?
One big reason is that moving to the cloud represents a new and different kind of change. The cloud involves not only IT, but also makes possible business models that were unimaginable or impractical even a few short years ago.
Complicating matters further, many organizations have realized that some enterprise applications may never move to the cloud. Instead, those applications will do best remaining on premises. Even among those that are good candidates for the cloud, there are interesting decisions to be made about what level of transformation is appropriate to potentially drive greater business value out of that application in the cloud, as well as decisions about how to integrate cloud and traditional workloads. In short, it’s complicated.
To help, here are six best practices for moving to hybrid IT
- Make the cloud a business decision. Digital transformation at its heart provides a new strategy not just for IT, but also for the business. It empowers business leaders to transform processes, improve the customer experience, and more — all with new business models. Getting the technology right is of course vital. But it must be done in alignment with and in the context of serving the entire business. Businesses and IT must align around a product management approach.
- Take DevOps to the next level. Moving to a hybrid cloud environment means looking differently across the entire operating model. Smart organizations will use DevOps to explore and use the marketplace of cloud services and change their IT operating model to do so. However, this isn’t an environment where you’re just using a new technology to simply provide the same services with the same controls. In fact, the opportunities to do “new things in new ways” are tremendous but the threat landscape is different, and the compliance opportunities are different, too.
- Before moving workloads, collect hard data. Some applications perform best in a public cloud, some in a private cloud, and some by remaining on-premises. How to make this determination? Look for true business value at the outcome level. There are tools available that can analyze performance-utilization data to map workloads to their best possible configuration in the public cloud. Other useful tools can assess performance data for specific workloads.
- Get value from your data. Established enterprises have a big advantage over startups: They possess years’ worth of valuable data. However, enabling and extending the value of that data may not be easy, especially if it resides on legacy systems. Once again, a hybrid approach to data management can help, as some legacy systems can be moved to the cloud, while others will need to remain on-prem (though still integrated with cloud environments). Organizations will need to tackle the infrastructure, the applications and the data together. If this is done in a modular “Fix Today and Enable Tomorrow” type approach it can deliver the additional value to the enterprise in small, bite-sized chunks.
- Create a cloud model that scales. When moving to the hybrid cloud, it can help to think like a restaurant owner. First, have “chefs” come up with recipes (architectural patterns). Then have “cooks” who can repeat those patterns many times at scale to move the workload. Also, start with quick, sure “hits.” That way, you’ll gain confidence and experience, while also amassing a persuasive collection of early successes. Note: These tasks may be outside the scope of most organizations (skills, know-how and scale) and may therefore require the help of a partner model.
- Regularly update your roadmap. Because every organization is unique, its roadmap to hybrid IT will need to be unique, too. But that roadmap must be able to change and adapt as the organization makes progress and learns new lessons, especially as the marketplace of cloud services is changing so rapidly. Today’s perfect plan won’t be perfect tomorrow when new services have enabled or automated a lot of what you were planning to do.
Don’t go it alone
Throughout the process, remember that the days of one-technology solutions are long gone. These are now replaced by a myriad of technology solutions to consider. So you need a partner to help you navigate both the technology and business landscapes, one that isn’t locked into any particular technology stack.
Much of the change will be cultural, as your organization adopts new ways of working, innovating and developing. A good partner can provide you with the baseline for building a hybrid-IT plan that’s effective, innovative and secure. They can also scale, helping you launch, adopt and run the transformation.