For every company, moving their systems over to the cloud is the beginning of a long and difficult journey, requiring leaders to take many factors into account that can knock them off course.
Cloud adoption could be revolutionary for a business, but it comes with a set of pitfalls that are easy to fall foul of, including lax security, bad financial management and lack of skills.
Speaking at the Cloud First 2021 Virtual Summit, Jon Gasparini, CTO at Brightsolid, talked us through these three major sticking points, and explained how dealing with them early will help steer your cloud transition in the right direction.
At the start of this journey, Gasparini said, there is generally a set of drivers that a leader must focus their organisation on that can influence the scope and outcomes of a cloud adoption journey.
“Right at the beginning, when a programme is launched and there is communication around that within the organisation there is a massive amount of expectation,” Gasparini said.
The journey will begin with a proof of concept that will help to validate some of the big assumptions that underpin the business case and some of the justification for mobilising the move to the cloud.
However, for most organisations, this transition is not plain sailing: “In my experience over the last eight years, there are typically three factors that can knock a cloud adoption programme off course,” Gasparini commented.
Managing the costs
The first factor to consider is financial management and poor optimisation. When switching from a CapEx-based model to an OpEx-based model, spend can get out of control, and leaders can be left with something called ‘bill shock’.
Additionally, there is commonly a lack of capability to optimise the use of cloud resources and take advantage of the various commercial levers that the cloud provider offers for a reduction of spending on a regular basis.
“Ensure that you understand the spend and what is driving that spend and that you are taking advantage of the levers that are available to you to reduce that spend overtime to avoid build shock,” Gasparini said.
“My recommendation would be looking to engage a specialist partner at the outset; don’t tie that scarce resource you have managed to obtain in managing the bills and optimisation, but get them focused on delivering business value and your business outcomes.”
Securing your cloud
Cybersecurity is fast becoming one of the most important factors to consider in the modern world. News of cyberattacks are happening more and more often and leaving your business open to attacks through weak security practices is a recipe for disaster.
A second problem when starting your cloud journey is weak security and compliance to standards. “The cloud providers offer incredibly powerful platforms, which in the right hands can achieve some great outcomes,” he said.
However, Gasparini said it is very easy for inexperienced users to poorly configure resources, resulting in data breaches and system compromises.
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Additionally, it can be very difficult at the outset of a cloud adoption journey to be able to evidence or justify to security specialists or stakeholders how the cloud services you are going to build align with internal policies and controls or external regulations and industry standards.
To fix this problem, Gasparini has some advice: “You are going to want regular insight and reporting that shows that you are in control of the spend and that you are aligned with your overall budget.”
You will also want to share the insights you have gained from your reports and hold others accountable for the cloud spend.
“Work on developing a cloud control framework from the outset and develop the right set of technical guardrails that help you implement that framework ideally through a set of preventative controls, and give you a real-time view on compliance and do that at the outset, and apply that across the full route to going live,” Gasparini added.
Boosting your skills
Getting your financial management in order and your cloud network secure is nothing without the correct employees to carry it out. Access to skills is perhaps the hardest of the three factors to crack, Gasparini said.
“We’re operating in a market today where the available cloud expertise is not significant enough to keep up with demand,” he commented.
“Demand is outstripping supply and it is very difficult to tap into the skill you need on a timely basis. It’s also incredibly hard once you’ve sourced that skill to retain that within your organisation.”
People with skills and training in cloud services are regularly being hired by recruitment agencies or potential competitors, thinning the market and making it more difficult to find or retain them yourself.
All of this means that providing access to skills within your organisation becomes vital. Gasparini’s advice is to get expert help as early as possible. “It will save you a lot of pain and heartache in the long term. You may need to source that from a specialist partner to begin with because of long wait time payments when it comes to recruitment.”
In terms of reskilling, you must recognise that you are targeting both IT and the business, Gasparini said: “Recognise that your future IT capability needs to operate more like developers as well as administrators, and then recognise that you are going to have to work incredibly hard to retain that talent within your organisation.”