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Many companies introduce the cloud without even thinking about WHY they should do it and WHAT do they want to achieve by doing so. The consequences can be measured in the amount of wasted time and money.
But there is another way. A wiser one.
Let me present you with 4 essential principles that you need to follow before even spending a penny on the cloud.
This post has originally been published on Aug 30, 2018. It has since been updated for better readability.
In one of my previous articles, I shared my thoughts on how and where to start with the cloud in your organization. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure to check it out: Considering The Cloud? Think Of These 7 Things First.
Those were the tactical pieces of advice on how to get digital transformation going at your company – an instruction which should prevent throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
But before you implement the tactics from that article, maybe you want to take a step back and think: Do I need to move to the cloud?
Even if the answer is yes, it leads to the next question: what kind of cloud solution is right for me? Maybe I need a cloud strategy?
You can ask us to create one for you! Of course, we can do it! We are experts and consultants!
Let me spoil the plot a bit here.
If someone starts a discussion about creating one for you, you might want to reconsider your consultant choice.
You should take a look at the value you deliver to your customers (internal or external) and the technology supporting it. Starting a discussion about a cloud adoption plan while focused on the technology approach is a wrong tactic. Technology might not be what drives your business.
Don’t start planning any tactical moves or directions around your cloud approach until you make sure you understand your “landscape”. Find out where your company builds value for your users and customers.
There might be different kinds of users in your organization, and your job is to support them all. You might have to take into consideration different points of view to efficiently promote the process of delivering value.
Now, let’s look at a few different questions:
You can answer those questions only if you understand a few things:
It is not technology that drives value to be delivered to users. The process of providing value for users is what drives technology choices.
Remember it! It is the key to success in the long-term.
Now we’ve set the stage, let’s debunk some myths around developing a cloud strategy!
Before considering the technical details of your approach and all the choices you need to make for your cloud adoption plan, think about this:
There might be multiple benefits, and not all of them come in direct monetary value. Instead, they might involve:
You will find plenty of examples and arguments on how the cloud can benefit organizations. It is important to investigate which ones will apply to yours and what – as a result – you will be able to deliver to your users.
It doesn’t matter that cloud provides excellent scalability if you don’t need thousands of servers – are you okay with the ten you already have?
Pick your reasons to adopt and use the cloud! Make sure to gather opinions from different places across your value creation chain. Their ideas will likely be different to yours and you should consider them!
Here, you’ll need to take the next important step which is:
It is the same as when you want to lose weight – if you don’t measure it regularly, you will not know if you are progressing and as a consequence, you won’t get there.
You have to define the goals you want to meet. Moreover, you need to establish a way of measuring them across the organization. It will enable you to monitor the progress in your desired direction.
It’s all that we can see all over the Internet. Vendor lock-in is the new method of scaring people off.
The solution? The multi-cloud approach!
And here come the dragons!
Turning to multiple cloud providers raises your costs in terms of the learning curve, the time to deploy the solutions, and interoperability between them. Suddenly, you need to decide where to put which solution, how to manage them all and operate productively.
You can take the approach of abstracting the solution from the cloud providers through an additional layer of APIs or interfaces which will make it vendor-independent. Usually, this means you waste the potential gains of the service – in terms of time and the cost of work to maintain it – to implement this “intermediate” layer. And you will always be behind.
If you invest wisely in your solutions approach and your team’s knowledge, there is no such thing as vendor lock-in. It is really just another term to fuel the never-ending cycle of IT projects and spending.
Most likely, you will use multiple cloud providers. This is the reality. The difference is in WHY you’ll do it and HOW you will approach this decision!
The fear of vendor lock-in should not drive it. What should push it is the value. The things that you are getting out of it. Take into account the following factors:
Follow what comes from your skills and architecture, not the state of technology:
If you have to switch cloud vendors, there will be costs to incur. However, with the right architecture, knowledge and deployment processes, they should be bearable and will still be lower than if building things from scratch.
It is us who build the solutions which create vendor lock-in. Rarely the vendor themselves.
There is always a new darling on the market and in the industry. It might be containers, functions or micro-services.
As a result, when it shows up, you will be informed quickly. Your architects will talk about it. Your developers will talk about it. It will pop up in every design discussion like: “Why not use…” and it will be all over the business analysts’ articles.
There is always a technology war to fight, and one option will always try to get an advantage over another (like Kubernetes vs Docker and similar. If you are old enough, you should remember Commodore vs Atari, which was the same situation, just more on-premises).
And there will always be a winner. But you know what? Almost certainly, the next battle is waiting just around the corner.
And while we’re on the subject: what are containers? Find out from this short video!
If the entire industry shouts “containers”, it is good to investigate it and look for the value that it could give you. However, this is not a strategy choice.
Your cloud adoption plan definitely shouldn’t sound like: “we will now use containers for everything as it is the best and finest technology and it prevents vendor lock-in.”
This is bad. Such an approach doesn’t have any relation to your value chain, it doesn’t set a goal, and it is not providing anything to measure that goal against.
Do you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of new technologies? Adjust your strategy to cloud usage:
Learning, experimentation, and evaluation will allow you to make the right choices for individual technologies within your cloud strategy.
And here we are. As you have seen, we have not talked about the tough choice between IaaS and PaaS. We have not discussed using SaaS vs a custom-built solution or using hosts vs serverless services.
All the considerations when it comes to choosing between these technologies are in the end the pros and cons for particular options. And this is where we as technology experts can always jump in and express our preferences.
Your choices in terms of your organization’s technology approach are not a strategy! And the truth is, you will most likely use all of them at the same time. The only difference is how much you use each of them at various stages.
There are several issues for your organization to consider. Read carefully:
If you have those 5 crucial elements covered, you will be ready to make the right technology choices for specific solutions.
For every organization, it is essential to answer three essential questions about its actions:
Your cloud strategy has to answer questions about WHY and WHAT in the first place! The HOW will probably change very often, but you will have straight guidelines on how to improve it.
If you have it formulated your cloud migration plan, is time to think about building your Cloud Center of Excellence and your Enterprise Cloud program.
How should you approach it? Stay tuned. I will cover it in the upcoming blog posts.
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