4 Lessons Learned From Cloud Infrastructure Adopters

June 30, 2020

Contributor: Meghan Rimol

Infrastructure and operations leaders can learn from the mistakes made by cloud adopters to mitigate cloud risks, speed adoption and maximize cost savings.

What are the benefits and risks of cloud? What are best practices for managing and governing cloud resources? How should we organize the IT team to best embrace cloud?

Although cloud has reached mainstream adoption, many infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders are still asking these questions as they navigate their cloud journeys. These are important considerations not only for enterprises that are just beginning to embrace cloud, but also for those that are working to streamline and optimize their cloud deployments.

“ Companies that are unaware of the mistakes made in their cloud adoption will overspend by 20 to 50%”

“In many organizations, cloud adoption decisions were made by line-of-business leaders without central IT governance, creating inefficiencies and a large number of cloud vendors for I&O to manage,” says Miguel Angel Borrega, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner. “Through 2024, 80% of companies that are unaware of the mistakes made in their cloud adoption will overspend by 20 to 50%.”

I&O leaders responsible for cloud infrastructure can benefit from cloud’s maturity by applying lessons learned from previous adopters to mitigate risks, speed adoption and maximize cost savings.

Lesson 1: Implement a cloud strategy across the organization

Many organizations have multiple cloud initiatives, each led by a different department. When these initiatives are not aligned with enterprise business goals, the cloud approach does not scale and prevents cloud computing from positively impacting the overall business strategy. 

Begin with a cloud strategy document that defines a common guideline for the entire organization, aligning objectives, benefits, risks and key adoption criteria. This helps prevent delays caused by misaligned priorities.

I&O leaders should lead the creation of a cloud strategy document to provide a clear, concise point of view on cloud and its role in the organization. Ensure the document accounts for organizational change and is supported by an executive sponsor. This should be a living document, updated as business factors, vendor markets and organizational goals evolve.

Lesson 2: Establish a cloud center of excellence and a cloud architect role

A cloud center of excellence (CCOE) manages and governs the different stages of the cloud adoption roadmap. Delaying the formation of the CCOE is a common mistake among organizations embracing cloud. Implementations deployed without the assessment of the CCOE could result in unsecure or unreliable architectures that require redeployment. 

The CCOE has three main responsibilities within the organization:

  • Governance: Create cloud computing policies and select governance tools.
  • Brokerage: Help users select cloud providers, architect cloud solutions, and collaborate with the sourcing team for contract negotiation and vendor management.
  • Community: Raise the level of cloud knowledge in the organization by capturing and disseminating best practices. 

The CCOE must include a cloud architect, who is responsible for defining the cloud strategy and interacting with key stakeholders. The ideal candidate for this role is a well-respected individual from within the organization who has access to business leaders and the CIO, takes initiative and is a “cloud believer.” This person must also have technical cloud skills and experience in cloud adoption projects.

Lesson 3: Identify the right cloud candidate workloads and the right cloud service provider

Most cloud implementation questions focus on two key areas: Identifying which workloads are the best candidates to migrate to the cloud, and selecting the right cloud service provider (CSP) based on these workloads.

Many organizations start to migrate applications and workloads to the cloud based exclusively on a short set of technical criteria. However, I&O leaders must perform a complete assessment that examines both the technical feasibility and business value of each application to identify which workloads are ready for the cloud. Focusing on applications that have a strategic need for migration will save deployment time and effort.

Similarly, the choice of a public cloud provider should be based on more than just technical capabilities. I&O leaders should also consider location and business factors. For example, consider relying on local CSPs when public cloud regions don’t deliver the appropriate level of cloud service, performance or cost. Even from the same public CSP, the type, price and quality of cloud services can differ across regions.

Read more: 3 Actions for Cloud Providers to Support Customers Through COVID-19

Lesson 4: Adopt management practices suited for growing cloud maturity

As the organization’s cloud maturity improves, I&O leaders must evolve the governance and management of their cloud resources. A common pitfall among organizations beginning their cloud journey is believing that current on-premises governance and management procedures are valid for cloud resources.

Changing governance and management practices after trying to integrate new resources into existing tools and policies requires more time, effort and spending than if these practices had been changed earlier. Successful cloud management requires a balance between self-service enablement and governance.

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