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Cloud Adoption Is Not Enough

For over a decade now public cloud adoption has been a priority for businesses looking to take advantage of the benefits of cloud in their digital modernisation journeys.

However, for many organisations, these promised benefits have been slow to materialise and the journey has been fraught with challenges. So where is it going wrong?

Taking advantage of cloud is much more than just lifting and shifting existing monolithic applications into a public cloud provider. Older applications that weren’t designed to take advantage of cloud features (such as scalability) often don’t gain the desired benefits and can end up costing more to run with consumption-based billing. Cloud native refactoring needs to be considered in this instance.

One of the biggest traps organisations make is simply assuming that cloud consumption will automatically result in benefits such as cost optimisation, scalability, and reliability without understanding that IT processes and architectures also need to be reengineered for the cloud. However, the problem also goes deeper than this. A wholesale cultural change in IT is required for the full benefits to be realised.

SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) along with DevSecOps is a practice well suited to getting the most out of the cloud. SRE’s bridge the traditional gap between infrastructure and applications with the support of automation and agile practices.

The SRE practice changes the IT focus from tracking notional activities, to measuring tangible benefits such as application end user experience. This is then used to improve technology which is where cloud becomes an enabler. Effective SRE’s have a strong understanding of modern IT tools and best practices and spend their time working holistically across engineering and operations teams measuring results against meaningful outcomes and driving an automation agenda. Automation can also improve resiliency through reducing human error.

SRE’s need support from IT leadership to instil a culture of automation within IT and get operations away from manually intensive and repetitive activities, which are often far too common. KPIs aligned to service improvements and automation goals are essential across the whole of IT to ensure a common purpose of identifying and fixing inhibitors in both technology and process. Cloud platforms can then provide the tools needed to support this service improvement agenda.

Cloud frameworks and architectures also need to stay as simple as possible to avoid cloud sprawl, which creates risk through complexity. Public cloud venders release an ever-increasing number of features which can result in technical teams struggling to keep up. Simplicity is often key in IT to ensure important objectives are met such as resiliency and security. The Keep It Simple paradigm has been around a long time and this particularly applies to cloud architecture.

To truly take advantage of cloud, a full cultural change is required within IT which embraces cloud frameworks, automation and most importantly measurements against tangible business outcomes. With only a basic view of cloud, many organisations won’t achieve the full benefits and a deeper understanding and alignment is needed.

Chris Freeman
Chris Freeman
Strategic Technology Leader
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