Five tests that tell you if you're really a cloud-first company

  • Posted on October 28, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
cloud-first company

This article was originally published on CIO.com.

The cloud wasn't always the first choice. In fact, not too many moons ago it was the new kid on the block, the young pretender. It was regarded with suspicion, a new technology with much to prove.

Not anymore. Every organisation uses some kind of cloud service. Plenty of big firms think of themselves as cloud early adopters, believing they have digital transformation licked.

Many organisations proudly claim to be 'cloud-first'. Maybe even yours. Well, let's put it to the test.

How do I know if we're a cloud-first organisation?

If you can answer 'yes' to these questions, then congratulations, you really are a cloud-first organisation.
  1. Do you have a cloud strategy in place?
  2. Do you have a cloud governance policy that works, balancing risk with agility?
  3. Do you regularly optimise and monitor your cloud estate?
  4. Do you actively exploit the advanced services that hyper-scale cloud can provide?
  5. Is adoption of cloud your first step to modernising your applications, moving from being resident in the cloud to being cloud-native?

I'll stick my neck out and guess that you couldn't answer yes to every question. But don't worry, you're not alone. Most organisations fall at the first hurdle: "Do you have a cloud strategy in place?" Making use of the cloud doesn't mean you have a cloud strategy in place.

The cloud isn't a plugin that 'just works'. Or a silver bullet that will fix your organisation's woes and turn it into a world-beater overnight. Any cloud deployment needs a strategy that ensures you make the most of your (very significant) investment.

Without a cloud strategy, you might be left thinking one of two things:
  • "I've gone to the cloud, but what next?"
  • "I've gone to the cloud, but I'm not getting the benefits I thought I would. What am I doing wrong?!"

If either of these sound like you, read on…

Reset and rethink your cloud strategy
You're in the cloud, but obstacles abound. These include cloud sprawl, overspending on unnecessary services, uncertainty around security and controls, insufficient rightsizing or even basic housekeeping like turning off VMs when not in use. Overspending is a big one: according to Gartner (2019), 45% of organisations will overspend by 70% during the first 18 months of their cloud journey.

Then along came COVID-19 and widespread remote working, making cloud technologies even more critical to organisations. How do you move forward and stay prepared for the next unforeseen event, increasing your core systems' resilience to future shocks and delivering faster time to value? And what role does cloud play?

You might have the right clouds, but the execution is key. Have you managed consumption well? Have you decommissioned legacy tech? Can you manage cloud supply and demand across your organisation? Do you have the right workloads on the right platforms?

Ask yourself this: is your organisation just ‘running in the cloud’ or is it ‘operating in the cloud’? To operate in the cloud, you need the confidence that you have the right operating model, service measures and cost controls in place to ensure that you’re not only getting value, but that it's sustainable in the longer term. Processes need to be in place to make sure your IT spend is both controllable and predictable.

The solution to all of these challenges lies in your cloud strategy. The right cloud architecture and operating model provides business speed and agility while improving security, quality and cost.

How to become cloud-first without hitting a wall
Your cloud strategy needs to be well thought through, not a knee-jerk tactical response. The biggest challenge is making the right decisions quickly and having the right people to execute them.

You might have the right people in-house to make these decisions. But most organisations do not. Avanade has been building and implementing cloud architectures and cloud strategies for years. And over that time, we've developed unique ways of navigating the everyday challenges organisations face when building out their cloud strategy. Our approach focuses on shorter, targeted modern architecture and cloud foundations workshops, with a healthy portion of automation to save time and costs, and cut your time-to-market.

If you need to streamline a lift and shift migration to Azure, or set out on cloud optimisation, cloud security or data platform modernisation journey, we have the expertise. Avanade can help you create an agreed strategy and solve your cloud conundrums, making sure all stakeholders across IT and the wider business have a say.

We've done it for the largest organisations in the world, like Centrica. The energy giant's trading division needed to move most of its applications to the cloud, choosing Microsoft Azure for its cloud infrastructure and Avanade for its cloud integration pedigree. The project brought security, visibility, stability and lower costs. In the case of one app, Centrica Trading cut operating costs by 60-70%, letting the company spin up new environments 99% faster and remove them just as quickly.

But this isn't the only way to 'do cloud'. Side-car architecture, or cloud deployments alongside and integrated with existing infrastructure, including mainframe and data platforms, are just as valid in their approach. You might not be cloud-first right now, but you’re probably closer than you think.

Respond, reset, renew
I suggest you read the guide, Rethink The Cloud As You Respond, Reset and Renew, to help you on the path to cloud acceleration and optimisation.

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