50% of company workloads and data are expected to be in Public Cloud within 12 months[i]. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have seen their timelines accelerated and companies who were yet to think about cloud adoption have had to come up with a cloud strategy almost overnight. Unfortunately, you can’t just flick a switch and successfully move to the cloud – creating a shared cloud vision and cloud-first culture in your organisation is just as important as the method of implementation. Involving the right people and having the right conversations are imperative in helping you move quickly and safely to the cloud.
When it comes to cloud adoption, in any sizable organisation, there are likely to be groups of people who are already involved or need to be. It is important to have the following stakeholders on board and part of the process from the beginning:
- Business departments who may already be using cloud indirectly through process outsourcing or even by employing IT suppliers.
- Internal development or support teams who may already be using cloud-based services and will be excited about what it can offer in terms of innovation.
- The internal IT team who know the world is changing and know they need to as well but see lots of obstacles in moving to the cloud, including the potential need to be retrained.
- Compliance and security departments who see an increase in the rate of change first-hand, resulting in them having to adapt their processes to respond rapidly to this.
- The finance department who see the traditional financing and budgeting models rapidly being replaced by demand-driven, Opex models and need to understand how to model finances accordingly.
- Business development who are witnessing the competition leveraging the power of cloud to help them rapidly innovate, pivot new products and want to keep pace.
The key question is, how as an IT leader, can you make sure that you meet the conflicting demands of how IT is done now and moving to the cloud quickly? As well as having the right people involved from day one there are also some common and important tasks which can help your organisation reach its goals of cloud adoption safely and securely. None of these tasks or processes are ground-breaking – however, depending on your organisation, the combination of these creates the necessary environment to ensure all the stakeholder needs are catered for.
- Publicise and establish a clear intent to move to cloud – either through the IT strategy or other means, e.g. “Cloud First”, “Cloud Always”. In the initial stages, and depending on how big the internal IT department is and/or level of investment in in-house infrastructure, the suitability of cloud will always be considered along with many other options. Given the ease of deployment, over time cloud will likely become the preferred choice.
- Recognise innovation – cloud is not difficult to access or use, so in any sizable organisation there is likely to be a significant amount of work already happening in the cloud, possibly by certain business functions or other third parties on their behalf. Search out the innovations amongst these, rather than branding them as unofficial or shadow IT. Learn and promote these where appropriate and help to plug any security or compliance issues. This approach will bring you closer to the business and helps learning within the IT department.
- Train (give time to) people – providing mass training for an IT department all at once can produce mixed results, especially when planning to migrate to the cloud. For the best results, you should give your staff time to learn and innovate regularly. Providing your staff with four hours a week to spend on learning and innovations, managed through yearly objectives, can lead to fantastic improvements in processes using cloud as a solution.
- Promote innovation – encourage your staff to have an innovative mindset and share any success stories from innovative initiatives. This can be done through regular communications, be it departmental information sharing with contribution from innovators, town halls, show and tells, blogs etc.
- Build frameworks – frameworks in this context is a generic term for all collateral, templates, reference designs, supplier contracts, resource estimation models, training plans, tool lists, licencing models, TCO calculators etc. These will develop over time and can even be part of the training discussed above. These, in time, will be formalised as a part of IT governance.
- Governance – given the speed at which changes can be made, the accountability to make cloud usage safe and secure does not only rest with the cybersecurity team but equally the Dev & Ops teams. Cloud governance, such as tooling choices, cloud services to use, removal of blockers, information sharing etc, needs to be devolved to a collection of key representatives from each IT department, cybersecurity and CTO. This is not a replacement for any Guilds that may be operating at different levels.
Every organisation is on a unique journey when adopting cloud, but ensuring you are involving the correct stakeholders from the beginning of the project and completing the tasks mentioned above will help to foster an environment that tolerates change and develop an inclusive strategy. Having this in place will help you to move confidently forward on your cloud journey, allowing you to adapt quickly to changing business needs and unlock opportunities to enhance and grow your business.
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[i] Flexera™ State of the Cloud Report 2020