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Modernize IT operations to truly unlock the promise of cloud

  • Posted on September 7, 2016

cloud

As enterprise IT organizations look to embrace the value and benefits that Cloud computing has been promising, they rightly focus on which technologies will best meet their needs. This is not really a journey to a cloud destination as much as it is a transformation in the way to deliver IT by incorporating cloud services. Enterprises that focus exclusively on technology alone are unlikely to get much from the cloud—apart from higher costs and increased complexity.

Enterprises must reconsider their way of operating that technology. As my colleagues Heath Whelan and Steve Hunter have pointed out here and here, the cloud isn’t just another place to host the same technologies you’ve used on-premises. Proceed that way at your own peril.

Avoid that Unexpected Bill

Because the cloud and on-premises technologies differ, you need to work differently to maximize the benefits. Traditional capacity planning is outdated. Instead, you now have to consider the cloud’s service-based consumption model and forecast your needs and costs so you’re not hit with an unexpected bill at the end of the month.

With cloud technologies, we can leverage services higher in the stack, allowing us to decouple applications and databases from the servers to which they were once bound (who needs to constantly patch and upgrade servers just to run a database service or application code anyway?). Rather than “server management,” think of how you can adjust to take advantage of this new freedom. Concentrate on the applications/workload first, and ensure you have a plan for managing the services they rely on (scale up/down as needed, power on/off as needed), whether IaaS, PaaS, SaaS or BPaaS.

The Biggest Change You Need

So how can you adapt to all of this? IT itself must transform from being a system integrator to a provider/broker of services. This enables the ability to keep up with the evergreen innovation that cloud providers bring: a larger technology ecosystem, more options, more KPIs, more federated and distributed services and more policies. Being a services broker requires ensuring appropriate service vendor management on the back end, which may be a newer capability that must be developed inside IT.  Successful IT organizations become the best place to “shop” for IT services when they can offer the best value to their customers (business units).  However, provide a poor experience or offer services not aligned to the business needs, and customers will always look elsewhere.

Additionally, it is critical that IT gets closer to the customers it serves.  Service level agreements and helpdesk services become more important than ever. Internal marketing and sales become as important to the IT operation as they are to any external technology provider. That means promoting services through catalogs, making pricing competitive, and developing a deep understanding of the business’ needs. One way to get that deep understanding is to embed IT resources into business units, where they can both identify business needs and provide timely guidance about how the business can consume IT services.

What About the People?

One of the key implications for IT operations concerns personnel. Traditional IT models segregated functions such as storage, compute and applications. New IT models in transformed IT organizations shift and redefine roles to provide more value to the organization. Such organizations adopt innovative technologies as rapidly as cloud services make them available. This shift requires broader skillsets across IT personnel who are now able to focus on consuming services from cloud providers to build differentiated value.

No two paths to the cloud will be the same Twitter [CLICK TO TWEET]. What yours looks like will depend on factors including why you’re adopting the cloud, how fast you’re going, and what your end-state will be. Many early movers to the cloud viewed it as a new way to create Virtual Machines and continued running IT as they always did—which inevitably increases cost and complexity.  When many of the clients we work with make operations central to their integration of cloud technologies, we see agility soar and IT costs decline, in some cases up to 50 to 80 percent. Technological benefits are certainly key to adopting cloud successfully, but they alone are not enough. Consider modernizing the operations of IT in order to truly unlock the promise of cloud in your enterprise.

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