A visual approach to the complex world of multicloud

All organizations want to evolve, and most are turning to cloud to progress their digital transformation initiatives.

Cloud is one of the most overused terms in the technology industry today. It is not a product or a location. Cloud is a different way of delivering IT services – a shift in the operating model of IT. Whether this is done using public, private or multiple clouds, it is critical for organizations to deliver applications in a new way that allows for the expansion and strengthening of their digital strategy.

WHY IS CLOUD CHALLENGING?

The broad conversation of digital transformation often mirrors discussions around cloud, DevOps and automation. They involve a lot of mess and noise that most organizations are struggling to figure out. In fact, digital transformation and cloud strategy are directly tied together.

While organizations may be convinced of the advantages of the cloud, they are often unsure how to best deploy an effective solution – one that accelerates and secures current business processes yet is flexible enough to support an evolving strategy and the inevitable changes that accompany the competitive technology landscape.

A vast number of vendors in the market promise simplicity and speed with a cloud transformation. Each of these vendors has a different approach and view across the cloud landscape based on vendor-specific interests and strengths, and this creates a lot of confusion around how to approach cloud transformation and ultimately, the IT transformation necessary to drive your digital vision.

THE MULTICLOUD APPROACH

We now live in a multicloud world, where the cloud permeates everything we do. In 2017, the IDC predicted that over 85% of organizations would adopt a multicloud strategy by this year. Now, the use of public cloud is practically a given; a hybrid cloud strategy is seen as critical; and working with multiple clouds from multiple providers has become the new normal.

We see this statistic reflected every day in our customers. Many have a cloud-first strategy but realize that there is a long road of application modernization required. For the foreseeable future, a multicloud strategy is essential. Multicloud involves numerous focus areas such as cloud management, automation and orchestration, cloud connectivity, cloud security and of course, using cloud to enable DevOps – and all require intensive and specified technology, processes and cultural innovation.

Accordingly, WWT is heavily focused on how our customers are using several private clouds, public clouds and typically, dozens of SaaS applications. It is through automating service delivery and IT operations and creating alignment across the development and operations teams that our customers achieve the “promise of cloud transformation.”

LIMINAL THINKING

One of the most overlooked aspects of “moving to the cloud” is organizational culture. Liminal thinking, coined by The School of the Possible founder, Dave Gray, is defined as “the art of creating change by understanding, shaping, and reframing beliefs.”

Liminal thinking is about removing yourself from your traditional thinking and putting yourself in another person’s shoes. What do they care about?

If you talk to an organization about their cloud strategy goals, the answer will usually vary greatly based on who you’re asking. A discussion with a member of the networking team will be very different from one with a storage or security professional. Those discussions will be even more disparate than conversations with members of the application teams. There is no one single strategy when it comes to a business’s approach to cloud.

In a cloud conversation, it’s important to solve alignment issues not only between separate technical teams, but also between organizational groups. While this idea might be a bit overused, “doing DevOps” is actually at the heart of implementing a cloud strategy.

We have to get development and operations working together in a new way. DevOps is a culture of outcomes supported by collaboration, communication and automation. Getting collectively focused on the right outcome, and executing on that outcome, is critical.

So many of our customers tell us they want to move to a public cloud to solve infrastructure issues and reduce costs, but in reality, neither of those will happen if there isn’t the right alignment around the objectives and initiatives. WWT’s approach to cloud is to bring teams together within an organization and move quickly in an initial sprint to accelerate the customer’s strategy, not to try and force one approach based on particular technology.

WWT’S CLOUD TRANSFORMATION CANVAS

Dave Gray describes visual thinking as “a way to organize your thoughts and improve your ability to think and communicate. It’s a great way to convey complex or potentially confusing information.” What topic is more complex or confusing than cloud?

As Silicon Valley in St. Louis, we help our customers and partners prioritize key objectives in their digital strategies by visualizing their cloud approach using our cloud transformation canvas.

The questions posed by the cloud transformation canvas are examples based on conversations we have with our customers every day. It can be used to take notes on, as a slide to organize output or ideally, simply discussed on a whiteboard using ideation.

 

Cloud Transformation Canvas 1

 

As a first sprint towards accelerating cloud strategy, an organization can identify current challenges on the left and the desired outcomes on the right. Essentially, the canvas allows our customers to start to contextually view all challenges, as well as infrastructure goals, together in the context of “the cloud.”

We can help organize and capture a customer’s cloud objectives or when needed, guide strategy. The center of our canvas is what we use to align your initiatives and show how we can help accelerate your strategy.

The integration capabilities in the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) are second to none. WWT bridges the gaps between technology groups to help you create a faster path to efficient IT delivery and accelerate idea to outcome for cloud.

ENABLING YOUR CLOUD STRATEGY

After outlining specific objectives in ideation using the cloud canvas, the goal is to quickly arrive at what can be acted on. Clear initiatives allow an organization to progress towards an IT posture that delivers user-centric, transformed IT service delivery in a true cross-cloud manner.

WWT enables our customers’ cloud strategy by implementing our capabilities around:

  • Cloud management platforms for cloud service lifecycle management
  • Automation and orchestration maturity modelling ideation and planning
  • Network modernization and segmentation for multiple clouds
  • Multicloud security and automatic incident response
  • Automated data management and backup to the cloud
  • New collaboration solutions for improved workforce experience
  • Modernizing applications to be cloud native
  • Deep data analytics and AI to gain new business insights

We offer hands-on workshops that start with a blank whiteboard and end up with a high-level architecture and actionable plan. WWT has an extensive showcase of cloud application and infrastructure use cases to create customized, enterprise-grade infrastructure integration and software development.

As a vendor-neutral technology integrator, WWT helps organize the confusion and chart a path to the cloud that’s right for each organization. The capabilities in our ATC allow us to deliver Integration-as-a-Service around the infrastructure components required for your transformation.

To learn more about our cloud capabilities and transformation canvas, contact cloud@wwt.com. Alternatively, contact your WWT account manager to schedule an ideation session or request a workshop.

Author’s note: Dave Gray, mentioned in regard to liminal and visual thinking, is a fantastic visual thinker who assisted us in the creation of the cloud canvas. I strongly encourage you to pick up one of his many books on the subject.

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  1. Scott Fast says:

    WWT Cloud Leadership,

    This is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing with all. Cloud is hard, it is not a thing but a journey. You truly make approaching the entire endeavour just a little less scary and much easier to consume! Thanks.