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Cloud transformation – common pitfalls

  • Posted on November 22, 2016

Cloud Computing

Cloud can often be seen as a silver bullet, which brings higher agility and elasticity whilst at the same time driving down overall costs and increasing efficiencies. Cloud providers, in their drive to gain market share, have been offering incentives and freebies to help clients dip their toe in the Cloud (figuratively speaking) Twitter [CLICK TO TWEET].

IT leaders have started to take advantage of these introductory offers, trialling consumption of Software as a Service (SaaS) products or provisioning workloads in the cloud. Where IT has been slow to react, business units have taken the lead in procuring these services to best respond to their customers vs. waiting for IT to react. One of the digital leads quipped, “it’s so easy … all you need is a credit card!”

So far, so good…

However, a few months into the journey, when the honeymoon effect has worn off, there is often a sense of frustration as reality on the ground is inconsistent with the sky-high expectations … literally!

At Avanade, we help clients come to terms with this dissonance and get them back on track. A study of the root cause highlights some common themes listed below:

  1. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-In

Arguably the single most important reason why projects fail or are stalled. Often, cloud transformation projects are driven by application development or infrastructure teams; business and other stakeholders are at best, informed. It is no wonder that a few weeks into these projects, all kinds of issues from skills, compliance and licensing start to surface, leading to a stalemate and lack of progress.

  1. Lift and Shift Mentality = Higher TCO

Let’s get this straight – merely shifting a workload from on-premise to run 24x7 in the cloud is unlikely to lower costs, if that is the sole objective. My colleague Steve Hunter talks about getting IaaS right for cloud success in a recent blog post. You wouldn’t leave your cooker burning 24x7 when you only use it for a few hours a day, so why do it for all IT apps? In many cases, cloud-optimising applications to turn down at night or during periods of low usage can drive big savings.

Cost is not the only consideration though, and there are often other factors. For example, we helped one of our clients take advantage of a contract termination with their data centre provider to move to the cloud lock, stock and barrel. However, when pursued as a pure lift / shift model to save costs, the scenario we commonly find is part of the estate moves to the cloud while a part has to remain on-premise (due to security, licensing … considerations). No prizes for guessing the impact this has on IT costs as IT deals with two estates instead of one.

  1. Lack of Clear Definition of Success and The Route to That Success

Simple really, but it is surprising how often the measures of success are vaguely defined. Anxious teams, not wanting to be left behind, often either blindly charge in, or navel gaze at the problem indefinitely. Without a clear success plan defined in business terms combined with a line of sight to the destination, teams find the goal posts shifting and they often struggle to remain focused.

In my experience, Cloud, if used effectively, redefines sourcing, technology, skills, processes and business relationships. My colleague Health Whelan describes one of these new ways of getting the most from the cloud in his IT-as-a-service blog. Remember, your cloud transformation journey should be managed like any other business critical change program.

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