6 Key Concepts Driving Cloud Success
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In a few years, cloud has become a proven enabler of digital disruption, hybrid work and omnichannel experiences.
So, what does cloud success really look like? That depends on the outcomes you want to achieve. Fortunately, there are several concepts that can help us get an idea about what factors we should be considering when gauging success in the cloud.
Most organizations have invested in cloud to some extent by now. If trends hold, many are heading toward hybrid or multicloud deployment models where several cloud environments operate in tandem.
Unfortunately, many organizations that have raced to the cloud in recent years are finding it tougher than expected to fully capture cloud's benefits. The reason? Cloud can be incredibly complex!
As a non-traditional technology investment focused on maximizing value and optimizing multifaceted IT environments, cloud often spans an organization's entire tech stack as well as many siloed teams across the business and IT. Cloud is complex for IT to plan, implement, manage, secure, optimize and stay current on. It can also be complex for business leadership to grasp, as the parameters for measuring success and return on investment can vary or seem unclear.
The good news is that cloud represents an opportunity for IT to play a more collaborative role in driving tangible business outcomes. Yet many IT organizations lack the confidence or skillsets to take full advantage of the opportunities and benefits cloud can offer. In fact, most IT organizations seek help only after a cloud initiative has stalled or failed.
Luckily, a stalled initiative is often the very jolt needed for an organization to reassess the efficacy of and alignment between its cloud strategy, long-term vision and business goals.
Cloud is complex. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.
One of the oft-cited benefits of cloud is "agility." But what does agility really mean?
What we're talking about is business agility. Public cloud's access to unlimited servers, paired with flexible usage-based payment options, enables organizations to instantly scale up and down in sync with fluctuating web traffic and consumer demand. All without having to invest valuable time and money in maintaining aging IT infrastructure.
The business agility afforded by cloud has two primary benefits:
- It lets your IT professionals maximize their business value by freeing them to prioritize projects related to more strategic topics (e.g., cybersecurity, IT modernization and optimization, the discovery of new revenue streams, etc.).
- It positions you to pivot faster in the face of unexpected market disruptions, production and supply chain volatility (e.g., COVID-19), or surprise software development snafus.
Organizations that learn to leverage the agility of cloud are better prepared to adapt to trends, embrace new opportunities and rise above market uncertainties.
Speed and agility go hand in hand.
Cloud environments are, by their nature, infrastructure as code environments. Which means that introducing DevOps and agile best practices into the software development lifecycle enables organizations to remove inefficiencies and roadblocks from the development pipeline. As people and processes become more efficient, it takes less time to bring new products and services to market.
WWT Cloud expert Chris Williams explains how this can increase the speed of your organization:
Organizations that can iterate and rapidly deliver are better able to experiment with increasing customer adoption and satisfaction while retaining the ability to course-correct or alter course altogether. By significantly reducing the time required for provisioning and de-provisioning infrastructure, your organization can supercharge the speed at which IT can deliver. This can have a drastic impact on cost savings as well as bottom-line revenue.
Resilient cloud environments can foresee disruptions to technology and services that may negatively impact the business. Resiliency also encompasses the flexibility needed to adjust plans on the fly, to keep the business thriving and moving forward.
Despite best efforts to mitigate risks from the unexpected, organizations will never be able to fully avoid cyber threats or prevent attacks that target business-critical resources. That's why building resiliency into your organization is so crucial — just don't expect it to happen overnight.
Why? We're talking about establishing fundamental cybersecurity and business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) best practices that span the major areas of your organization. This umbrella will include your specific cloud deployment model and maturity plans; your infrastructure modernization status; the location of your applications and workloads; the habits of your users and their endpoints; your remote or hybrid work models; and any industry-based security requirements.
Ideally, your Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) will have a firm handle on all cloud-related resiliency planning. The CCoE's focus on aligning cloud with business initiatives to achieve tangible outcomes should always include security threat planning for both known and unknown vulnerabilities. Ensuring cloud data are protected and that systems remain available in the face of a cyber event requires tight alignment and ongoing iteration among cloud, cybersecurity and business leaders.
Like a symphony orchestra navigating a complex musical passage, different teams across your organization must operate in harmony to achieve cloud success. In fact, cloud's capacity to streamline how people, processes and technologies work together is one of its most appealing features — and perhaps the least understood due to the difficulty of achieving the right resonance.
Cloud isn't like other IT investments. It's more than a standalone technology. Why? Because it spans the technology stack, and its success depends as much on workforce adoption and process transformation as it does on installing the right tools and services.
Stop thinking about cloud as a technology. See it as an enablement tool for digital and business transformation. A new way of thinking, planning and executing to deliver meaningful business outcomes.
Your CCoE was designed to harmonize cloud environments: It exists to ensure the alignment of cloud and business goals across your organization. This ongoing and iterative process involves facilitating strategic and tactical execution across your people, processes and technology stack in a well-governed and inclusive method.
When every stakeholder in an organization feels part of the plan for cloud success, from executive leadership through team leads and end-users, you're one step closer to realizing the sorts of business outcomes that attracted you to cloud in the first place.
Cloud visibility means having a detailed view of all activity in your cloud environment. Without the capacity to see where your data, applications and workloads are and what they're doing, you won't be able to proactively identify threats, flag inefficient performance or truly trust any measure of cloud success.
Visibility is a critical concept to consider prior to cloud migration, as many organizations misjudge the effort needed to migrate, monitor and manage their cloud environments. Visibility becomes even more important when hybrid cloud or multicloud environments are involved. A lack of visibility is often the root of many stalled cloud initiatives.
Visibility can be achieved with the right cloud monitoring tools and services. This is an exciting space, where advancements in automation, orchestration, artificial intelligence and machine learning are enhancing organizations' ability to rise above increasingly complex cloud environments.
By making visibility a central focus of your cloud strategy, you can eliminate data-related blind spots in IT environments, trigger automated security alerts faster, avoid critical service disruptions and customer fallout, extract more valuable insights from data, optimize the performance of applications, and much more.
If you need help navigating the complexities of cloud computing, look no further. WWT is one of the few partners who can help organizations at every single step of the cloud journey, from building a long-term cloud strategy and establishing CCoE governance principles, to migrating workloads and optimizing cloud spend.