Navigate and act
in the fast-changing market:

Your technology guide to the cloud

Download PDF version to save it for later or share with others.

With this guide you will:

• Learn what are the 5 levels of cloud maturity and how moving up on them will transform IT from a cost center to the value generation engine for your business.
• Find out which level you are at – which areas are supported with the right technology, and which are neglected? Discover the business outcomes of your current position.
• Plan the next steps you need to take to move your organization to the higher level. Which technologies should be introduced? Which good practices are still missing?

Cloud Journey Guide (Contents)

Introduction

Why do you need cloud?

Haven’t jumped on the cloud train yet? Or still using the cloud just as a datacenter? You’re playing a risky game.

What’s the risk?

That someone will outpace you in the long run. And that someone will be your competitor.

Join the digital revolution!

40%

predicted global increase in public cloud revenue by 2022, according to Gartner

Adapt or perish

Market and customer demands change rapidly. You have to be able to respond to them fast, or your competition will take the lead. Flexibility can make all the difference between succeeding and falling behind.

The cloud never sleeps

Your business operates in a highly dynamic and competitive environment. You need a stable core to stay up to speed! Vendors take good care to make digital services reliable, with next to no downtime.

Security is mandatory

Constant changes give perfect conditions for the bad guys to strike. Take advantage of technology to set up next-level protection. With a new ransomware story hitting the news practically every week, fortifying your security is a no-brainer.

Winners bet on technology

You are missing out on opportunities while your more technologically advanced competition takes all the winnings. Sure, going remote is a great way to begin your digital transformation. But that’s just it – the beginning. What about your infrastructure? Data? Security for all these new environments?

Taking advantage of the cloud means having greater resources. But it also means being able to go above and beyond, as you discover new ways of addressing the needs of your customers. Many companies are already there. Soon, every business will be a tech business.

Don’t get left behind!

Greatness takes time – and iterations!

Do you remember how hard driving was in the beginning? But over time, it gradually got easier, until it became second nature. It’s similar with the cloud. There are various aspects to take care of, processes to define, and safeguards to implement, before it gets easier.

Successful cloud adoption requires a strategy and a solid foundation. You need to know where you want to be at each stage, and what steps you need to take to get there. Monitoring your KPIs and maintaining standards with the use of cloud governance will be your constant companions on this journey.

Click to see the full size

The 5 Levels of your cloud journey

Click to see the full size

What do these 5 Levels mean?

Level 0 is a bit like your first apartment away from home. It’s not much, but it’s the first space you claim for yourself, so it might be difficult to let go of.

But Level 4? That’s a million-dollar compound with two swimming pools, a tennis court, and a mini golf course. Plus a few holiday homes abroad.

Now, doesn’t THAT sound like a dream? At this point, your organization is probably somewhere in between.

Great – you’re already one step ahead!

4xOps: your four companions

The IT landscape has changed. It’s ”go digital or go home”.

You can no longer look at your cloud as just another IT resource, for a simple reason that it is so much more than that. It has the potential to become an integral part of your business operations, fueling and driving your initiatives and, consequently, revenue.

The 4xOps model is built on new practices, which emerged with the cloud to make your operations fit for the digital age.

Before, organizations used to look at things like infrastructure, data, code or business models as separate entities. Everything was dealt with by individual teams, in isolated silos. Then DevOps came along. It allowed teams to combine all these separate areas, and start treating them as processes.

Through DevOps, everything becomes connected. You can combine different aspects of your business operations and see them in a wider context. You can then start looking at DevSecOps (incorporating security into all your processes), FinOps (advancing the approach to budgeting cloud resources) and DataOps (treating data as code for its better usage).

Do you want to know what the number one problem in having IT as an active part of business is? It is not the cost of it. Nor is it a lack of skills. It is the lack of a common language across the entire business value chain, which includes IT projects.

The solution? Implementing DevOps as a practice. Give your teams a common ground to collaborate and observe as your deployments start improving before your very eyes.

You need multiple tools and processes to fully implement DevOps at your organization. But what’s key is that it’s more than a single tool or process. It is a culture of working and delivering a product together as a single team, regardless of which department everyone’s in.
Click to see full size
Many people, when talking about DevOps, refer to automation. And sure, it is a part of it, but it’s just a piece of the truth. The key is to establish a way of working that is observable, measurable, and repeatable.

So, where to begin with DevOps?

1

Start with creating a repository of requirements, so all your teams can work together. You can use e.g. Azure DevOps or GitHub for this purpose.

2

Establish a backlog which will facilitate the process by listing priorities, displaying progress, and providing metrics on the state of development.

3

Define your Continuous Integration (CI) process for putting the requirements into release. It needs to be automated and repeatable.

4

Establish your Continuous Delivery (CD) process for faster deployments, so you can push the product to production when needed, and easily revert to a previous version if necessary.

Hardly a week goes by without a news story about a company being hit with a cyber attack.

The worst part is, most of them could have been easily avoided.

Security in IT is not a gimmick. It is a way for organizations to mitigate risk. Not threats to IT infrastructure. Not threats of IT systems breach. It is about reducing business risk.

Click to see full size

Security is EVERYONE’S business!

Remember it and repeat it as a mantra every time someone says it isn’t.

Where to start?

1

Start with education. Train your teams on code security, good practices, and threat modeling.

2

Keep your secrets safe. Secure confidential data like client secrets, certificates or passwords, in a dedicated service, and not a repository.

3

Secure your code with dedicated tools which will scan it for potential security or quality issues.

4

Build security into your CI/CD pipelines, and automate it to catch potential issues faster.
Data is the new oil! But is it just any data?

How do you know if the information you are using is the right kind of fuel for your organization?
Organizations use data for one of three reasons:

  • Making improvements to their business
  • Developing new offering
  • Inventing business models.

How advanced a company is in using its information depends on its maturity stage. But as a business advances in its use of data, the maintenance of it becomes more complicated. This is where Data Operations, or DataOps, can help.

Click to see full size

Data Operations is about innovating your value chain of data. It facilitates easy testing and validation of ideas, and delivering them as a value to your organization. And as a bonus, it also makes your data projects fun and interesting for teams working on it.

How to get started with DataOps?

1

Begin with a standardized data framework for a single source of truth when it comes to best practices.

2

Turn your data projects into code and put them in the cloud.

3

Automate orchestration and testing to save time and resources.

4

Automate deployments to maintain consistency.

The most significant change in the public cloud model compared to on-premises operations is that you can assign a budget to every element of your solution at the flip of a switch.

FinOps can help you manage your cloud spend more efficiently, so you get the highest return while saving costs.

Automated lowering of service tier at weekends or other times when your resources aren’t used as much could make a huge difference to your costs!

Click to see full size

The 3 stages of FinOps

1

Inform. Companies establish
transparency in cost allocation
and budget execution.

2

Optimize. Once accountability for
budgets is established, stakeholders can
identify opportunities for cost reduction within their areas of responsibility.

3

Operate. Organizations define, measure
and observe key metrics related to
budgeting, tracking them against
business objectives.

The cloud journey methodology

Operating in the cloud is no longer about using individual components to reach unrelated goals.

Your processes, data, infrastructure, and resources can all form and support the core of your business. By adopting this methodology, and using the appropriate tools, you can work your way toward the higher levels of your cloud advancement.

In the end, by being in the cloud, you’ll be able to survive the highest rate of change. With increasingly more competition out there, it really is ”adapt or perish”.

Everything is connected!

What to expect?

We will share with you our proven 5-step methodology, called Predica impACT grid, for guiding companies to success. Each step is divided into two key sections:

1. Impact – detailing how an organization operates as a whole at a given Level, what it means for its potential, and where it can go from there
2. Areas – showing how different Levels of cloud adoption affect businesses in every aspect, including:
a. Strategy – long-term plans and the approach to their execution
b. Architecture and governance – deployment and management of resources
c. Data – information gathering, its storage and usage
d. Operations and finance – allocating and executing budgets, monitoring costs
e. Security and risk – mechanisms and strategies in place to protect business assets
f. Tools – services and methodologies in use on a daily basis. Our first stop is a cloudless space. Let’s take a look around.

Our first stop is a cloudless space. Let’s take a look around.

Level 0: Resistant

IN-HOUSE SERVICES ONLY

Benefits

Keeping all data on premises

Risks

Security vulnerabilities

Lack of business insights

Missing out on business opportunities

Why should you move forward?

Easier collaboration

Increased security

Offsetting infrastructure costs

Overview

At a cloudless company, IT is most likely a small, separate unit. It focuses on providing user support and resolving issues with infrastructure and operations. Instead of helping with revenue generation, it is, essentially, a cost center.

This leads to a situation where people who do not drive the business are compensated at the expense of people who do. It doesn’t mean you don’t need them. On the contrary – your tech people could help move your company forward! Meanwhile, they spend their time maintaining on-premises workloads and developing custom services like email or web hosting.

Even potential changes are insufficient to speed up an organization’s ability to adapt to a fast-changing market. Traditional methods make it difficult to try new ideas quickly. With industry and customer demands changing rapidly, this inflexibility poses a great risk to the business.

Click to see full size

1. Strategy

A cloudless organization maintains the status quo. The cloud is not being considered yet. All efforts and investments are directed towards on-premises resources rather than proofs of concept for cloud services. There is no development of cloud-related skills. As a result, there are no innovations or significant improvements made to business operations.

2. Architecture and governance

The architecture at Level 0 is focused on on-premises workloads and integrations. IT teams are primarily engaged in projects involving networking and storage (utilities) development or configuration.

Because the projects are focused on internal resources, the impact of architecture and changes on total cost of ownership (TCO) and business value is difficult to measure.

Additionally, services are most likely implemented independently of each other, with no overarching standard. As such, architecture and compliance guidelines may be hard to verify and enforce. Each aspect has to be managed and analyzed separately, which takes time.

3. Data

Dealing with data is particularly difficult these days when it comes to organizations functioning 100% onpremises. It’s because all the information is stored in multiple sources, in different, often incompatible formats. Data is essentially siloed, with one-off integrations, but without a shared source of truth.

As a result, any business insights take a long time to prepare, and are subject to human error. Consequently, making informed long-term decisions is difficult if not impossible.

As each solution is implemented separately, there is no centralized data model or operations. Managing and analyzing data requires special skills, which makes it difficult for most business users to get the information they need for effective day-to-day work.

4. Operations and process management

As you can probably see by now, operating in an entirely cloudless environment in the modern age is quite troublesome. Projects take a long time, and are focused mostly on the on-site infrastructure and its maintenance, rather than business-generating solutions.

The support IT needs takes up a lot of resources. Any changes and operational management are driven by ticketing, limiting flexibility and turnaround times. This puts the company at risk of missing opportunities, as it cannot react quickly to changing circumstances.

5. Financial management

Lengthy projects require lengthy budget cycles. Typically, this means a budget allocated yearly. This approach makes it difficult to make changes to a project, even if it meant improvements or savings in the long run.

Long-term projects also require an extensive procurement process and a lengthy RFP cycle. But after approval, it is difficult to track the costs as there is no direct resource cost allocation to business operations. Consequently, even services used for business purposes are treated as an expense rather than an investment.

6. Security and risk

It is practically impossible to run a business without the internet. As such, up-to-date protection and best modern practices are key to a secure environment.

And security is not a gimmick! 28% of phishing attacks are reported as successful, while the average cost of a cybersecurity breach was $3.86 mln in 2020.

7. Tools

A cloud-resistant organization most likely uses Windows- or Linux-based systems. For application access, on-premises virtualization platforms such as VMWare or Hyper-V are used. Enterprise database and data analytics tools are also held on-premises.

In terms of process management, either no specific methodology is used, or a waterfall (linear) approach is taken. This can lead to projects taking a long time to complete as unforeseen delays may stall the work.

Where to begin?

Business productivity suites such as Office 365 or Google Apps are the easiest way to get started with digital services, so taking this approach will help you move forward. Here we can share some of the lessons learned during implementing O365 for our clients.

10% of organization are reported to not use cloud at all. Why?

  • They prefer to keep data on-premises.
  • They’re worried about the costs.
  • They’re concerned about migration and its risks.

The cloud can help solve these problems if you’re willing to give it a chance!

1. Start by gathering feedback

It’s always best to just talk. It works much better than using tools such as surveys. People become more open when they talk, especially to an external consultant. The goal here is to discover how your people work and what their daily problems are.

2. Choose real business cases

Based on the feedback you get, it’s good to identify real cases for the pilot. Only after defining and prioritizing the scenarios you should propose the technology that will help with achieving your goals. Each of the scenarios can be addressed with many services.

For example, do you need to reduce the time spend on email management? Then you can look at custom inbox configuration or additional internal communication tools. Want to lower meeting costs? Use Exchange functionalities for booking or introduce videoconferencing. Defining scenarios will also help with a bunch of well-known but painful end-user situations.

3. Don’t test everything at once

When you ask your users what they want to test, you will probably get an answer such as: “We don’t know what we want because we don’t know what is possible”. Office 365 already gives you many services. That’s why you should focus on just a few during the pilot and start with your business cases first.

It’s hard to decide which plan to choose but more importantly, it’s hard to get a budget for a project when you can’t evaluate its usefulness. Prioritize and choose wisely, limiting your tests to a maximum of 3-4 services.

4. Support your pilot users and communicate with them often

The worst scenario you may be up against is to enable the technology and leave your users on their own. Remember that not everything is intuitive for them, and they will become demotivated very, very quickly.

The best pilots we have seen were the ones where a dedicated person was constantly in contact with testers. On the one hand, it gives you some early invaluable feedback, on the other – testers know whom to contact when help is needed.

5. Don’t forget to go through a technical assessment

It’s easier than ever before to deploy Office 365 at your organization. The funny thing here is that apart from the Office Pro Plus client, there is hardly anything else you can deploy. All the technical work is usually connected with AD or email system integration.

Remember to go through the technical assessment to identify any blockers or problems you may have. There are also many technical decisions to make. They will help you with scoping your final project. 

6. Get some support

We have seen many clients trying to do the pilot by themselves. It almost always ends up taking much longer than expected with many questions left unanswered. Look for an expert to support you during the process. This person or company should have certain experience with both technical (tips and tricks) and business (adoption) parts of the service, to guide you through the process.

Next steps

So, you want to get started with the cloud? Make sure you’re ready:

1. Grow your talents

No one knows your business like your employees. Give them the opportunities to gain the necessary skills.

2. Define your KPIs

It’s not just about monetary savings - it might be about the time saved on deployments, or service outages. Define what you want to achieve and measure it.

3. Start small!

Don’t take your most precious cargo on the first trip. Think of a small business problem you can solve with the cloud, and start there.

4. Evaluate, build, iterate

Not every service will be suitable for your circumstances. Analyze the potential risks and benefits, pick only the options that are relevant to your business, and build from there.

5. Remember that cloud is a living thing

It is not an off-the-shelf product. There are multiple services which work together to form a solution. Prepare to deal with things like source control, continuous integration and deployment.

6. Work with your business departments

Your IT is the best-suited business partner for your organization. Work closely with them to learn their needs and deliver the necessary solutions.

7. Know where you are headed

What do you want to achieve with the cloud? How will it impact your core business? What is the long-term goal? If you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have a better chance of making the right choices.

Level 1: Aware

MOVING UP THE CLOUD RANKS

Benefits

Simplified collaboration

Improved identity management

Lower infrastructure costs

Risks

Inconsistency between environments

Security vulnerabilities

Limited business insights

Why should you move forward?

Large-scale data analysis

Better cost management

More effective project
management

Overview

The main objective at this stage is optimizing IT operations, to make more of the available resources. Cost savings are still a priority; however, the focus is gradually shifting to include employee demands. Business tools such as Office 365 are being introduced to simplify collaboration or enable remote working. You might consider cloud-based PoCs (Proofs of Concept) for non-critical workloads, or move some of the infrastructure to an IaaS model.

The cloud and on-premises resources are still being treated independently of each other. As such, there is no common security or architecture approach. It is, essentially, a trialand-error mission to establish a new way of operations.

At this point, you can already start seeing the benefits of the cloud. You’re laying the foundations for future cloud adoption and learning the necessary skills. Your business will gradually begin to operate faster and optimize costs.

Click to see full size

1. Strategy

A cloud-aware organization is not yet cloud-focused. Cloud services are being treated as secondary resources. As such, there is no common adoption strategy for new workloads. The entire approach is focused on IT and infrastructure, with the aim to drive down costs.
At this stage, saving money and resources might be the right approach for you. However, it is a good idea to start working on some standards for service implementation, to avoid having inconsistency issues later.

2. Architecture and governance

As the new path is being forged, the main plan is yet to emerge. There is no cloud governance model yet. An initial architecture for on-premises and cloud workloads has been designed, but deployments are project-based and made on an ad-hoc basis. There is no standardized approach to them, and there is no consistency among resources either.

Any adjustments are made as per individual project requirements. Consequently, there is no single way or systemic approach to managing new resources. It can lead to some vulnerabilities in the systems. Essentially, this is the make-or-break point for your cloud adoption.

3. Data

Digital solutions provide invaluable support when it comes to analyzing information and providing business insights. Introducing the cloud allows the organization to take a step towards a better data strategy.

Although most of the company data is siloed and kept mostly on-premises, the first data warehouses are being introduced, with emerging data models. Those in turn are being kept in the cloud, which is still largely used as commodity storage.

Data analytics tools are being introduced to help business users get the information they need. Reports include largely structured, internal data, which doesn’t yet take into account external factors that may affect the market. However, it is already easier to get deeper business insights and start defining new goals based on information that is more accurate than before.

4. Operations and process management

New solutions take time to get used to. Until then, the cloud is being treated largely as another IT resource. From the financial point of view, it is the cost center for implemented utility services and infrastructure.

The approach to cloud management and operations is copied from the traditional ways of running an on-premises environment, with no consideration yet as to what may need to be approached differently. As such, there are no KPIs centered around optimizing and automating them.

Consequently, it is difficult if not impossible to assess the impact of the cloud. That’s why it’s a great time for setting measurable outcomes. You can already take advantage of cloud-based data analytics solutions which can help you gain the necessary insights.

5. Financial management

The arrival of the cloud does not change much in terms of the approach to cost. There is still a traditional, lengthy procurement process with a long cycle of vendor and product selection. Budgets are still allocated for the long term per project. Costs are allocated and managed in bulk, e.g. in per license or per-server mode.

It’s not the optimal way of managing finances for cloud resources, but depending on your needs and usage, it might be sufficient at this point. However, taking a long time to procure services limits the speed with which you can begin new initiatives.

6. Security and risk

In terms of security, the arrival of the cloud means in large part an extension of the existing security model to the new perimeter, as it is still largely network-focused.

Although regulations are taken into account when dealing with data privacy and security, there is usually no policy and no risk assessment for cloud resources at first. However, the availability of new resources means that identity-based security solutions, usually in a SaaS model, are being introduced.

This is a significant improvement for your users who now should be able to easily access the necessary resources without having to be physically present in the office. By introducing the single sign-on (SSO) functionality, you also remove the need for multiple sets of credentials for different services.

7. Tools

A cloud-aware company starts to take advantage of the variety of business services. The most common are productivity suites like Office 365 or Google Apps, data analytics tools like Excel or Power BI Desktop, or 3rd party marketing or business tools.

Part of the infrastructure is moved to an IaaS model in Azure, AWS, GCP, or another cloud. This includes virtual machines, storage, or backup services. It offsets some of the cost of maintenance, and protects your resources from loss or damage.

New approaches to process management are being tested, such as Scrum or Kanban, to make collaboration easier and deliver results faster.

Next steps

You’ve taken the first step on your cloud journey. Congratulations! Now you can start working out the details:

1. Understand your value offering

Before you start using the cloud, you need to know what your company offers to its users – both employees and customers. Once you know what you can deliver in the context of the current market, you can start thinking about how you’ll do it.

2. Define and measure your goals

Find out what it is you want to accomplish – is it about shorter time to market? Simplified compliance? Scalability? Pick your reasons to adopt and use the cloud. Make sure to gather opinions from different places across your value creation chain.

3. Don’t worry about vendor lock-in

It doesn’t have to be an issue! In fact, sticking with one provider might make it much easier to manage the new investment – you won’t need multiple skillsets, billing arrangements, geographic locations, etc. Think about what will help you deliver the most value to your users.

4. Learn, experiment, evaluate

It’s not one-size-fits-all with the cloud. And you certainly don’t need to base your strategy on what’s the latest and greatest in technology. Think of the services that can help you fulfill your objectives, experiment with them, and measure the outcome. If it works – great! If not – move on to the next thing.

Level 2: Guided

ADVANCING IN CLOUD USE

Benefits

Measurable business impact

Fast idea implementation

Streamlined procurement and budgeting

Risks

Gaps in resource standardization

No proactive threat mitigation

Why should you move forward?

Data-driven decision-making

New ways of generating value

Improved consistency and compliance

Overview

Your direction is set. You are now able to transform the way you work and deliver value. This next stage will require focus: you’ll need to speed up the development of skills and operations and build a suitable model to deliver on cloud services. 

Many organizations take on a hybrid approach, using both public cloud and on-premises services, with public cloud having priority. Migrating services from on-premises is now accounted for in the strategy. Security is identity-driven, allowing employees to seamlessly access the new cloud-based tools in their daily work.

This newly gained competence in using the cloud enables your teams to deliver projects reliably and predictably. You can iterate quickly, validate business ideas, and scale them if they work. IT is the preferred business partner for developing the necessary products. Modern workplace solutions, like a cloud-based intranet, allowed your organization to establish new, more efficient ways of collaboration. Cloud-based tools also allow your company to measure the business impact of their adoption.

Click to see full size

1. Strategy

The tutorial is over. Now, it is time to play the game for real. A defined migration strategy is a must at this stage. As you decide to move forward with cloud adoption, the plan becomes aligned with business directions.

The scope of projects and investments widens beyond infrastructure to include areas generating business value. As such, you need to define requirements for service measurement and observability. The cloud is now seen as the vehicle for driving value, but it is also becoming accountable.

2. Architecture and governance

A more elaborate IT environment requires a methodical approach. In practice, this means more standardization and less ad-hoc deployments. This starts with preparing a landing zone, or an initial environment that has a set of governing standards.

Over time, this model is scaled as a service to other resources. This allows introducing the architecture guidelines for new services. You also start to focus on standardizing resource deployment and compliance. Consequently, adopting and using new services gradually becomes easier.

3. Data

By using new cloud services, you can start making a better use of the valuable resource you had all along – data. This starts with modernized data warehouses hosted in the cloud. Their scalability allows you to increase data ingestion, which is particularly useful as the volume of semi-structured data (like logs or XML) starts to grow.

New sources of information, as well as available functionalities, allow the business to make better use of its resources. Selfservice analytics tools are widely adopted, allowing employees to make better-informed decisions daily, based on more accurate insights.

Now you can also start new data-driven initiatives aimed at identifying or developing new business opportunities. At this point, you are able to use the cloud to actively generate a return on your investment.Click to see the full size

4. Operations and process management

As you begin to standardize your environment, there is increasingly more order to your activities. You can start looking at simplifying them. Ways of automating deployments and operations are starting to appear on a per-project basis. Multiple teams adopt Agile delivery models, focusing on continuous improvement rather than rigid longterm engagements. The results of their actions can also be measured with clearly defined KPIs.

This approach allows higher flexibility. More importantly, by reducing manual work and the risk of human error, it also results in better quality products being delivered.

5. Financial management

At this point the old ways of managing costs no longer work, so you become more adept at cloudoriented financial strategies. License- or user-based models are dropped in favor of usage-based pricing. An initial cloud cost allocation model is also in place, based on the organization’s cost centers.

Procurement is no longer a complex, lengthy process but is adjusted to the needs and realities of purchasing cloud services. You are also able to allocate project-based budgets according to predicted cloud costs.

At this Level, your cloud investment is becoming increasingly trackable and measurable. You no longer have to rely on guesswork, but can get more accurate insights into your services, and make informed decisions on where to go next.

6. Security and risk

Now that you’re playing in a bigger league, you need to step up your security game. And you do! You start using cloud security services, mostly for infrastructure and network services. Security measures are tailored to the services you have, as per your risk models. Resources are protected with an identity-driven security model, allowing seamless authorization and safe access from anywhere.

The advanced approach to security keeps resources protected without compromising productivity or ease of access for authorized users. Working with external partners or clients is also easier, as they can be assigned access to specific resources.

7. Tools

Now that digital solutions guide your business, they are present in every area of operation. You rely less on lengthy development of custom solutions and instead look towards ready-made services which you can use as building blocks for what you need.

Here are some examples of what you can use in specific areas:

  • Security and identityAzure AD, Intune, Microsoft 365 suite
  • Data – Power BI Pro, Azure SQL, Azure Analysis Services, Azure Data Lake, Master Data Services
  • PaaS-based business apps.

To be able to run and easily scale all these services a high availability, redundant cloud-based architecture is necessary.

Process management is much more efficient at this stage, with some DevOps practices beginning to emerge. You may use tools or services like Azure DevOps or Terraform to keep projects running smoothly. Scrum and Kanban methodologies are widely used to manage workloads as part of LeSS, AgilePM, DAD, or similar Agile Project Practice. These new approaches allow you to quickly react to unforeseen changes. It is easier to monitor project progress and make adjustments if needed. Additionally, with automation becoming part of your deployments, products are delivered faster, with less errors.

Next steps

Now you can take one last look behind you and commit to the direction in which you’re going. The good news is, you’re now well equipped to be able to make an informed decision. Here are some tips to help you move forward:

1. Research new opportunities

Data can show directions for new business areas. The information is there now, so there’s no point in waiting for a month to see it. Invest in data analytics and data operations to get the necessary insights when you need them.

2. Focus your IT projects on business generation

You need to learn how to implement and verify ideas - and in today’s market, you need to learn it fast. Use the cloud to run quick trial projects - now you can build a simple PoC product from scratch in hours, not days.

3. Experiment with new business ideas

Lengthy initiatives with an uncertain outcome are no longer an option. What you need is a quick way to try out a portfolio of projects. DevOps culture is a way to enable it. You can develop the MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) fast, check data to evaluate results, then move on to the next iteration.

4. Adjust your budgeting procedures

You need to answer market demands quickly, and yearly budgeting and procurement cycles will limit your ability to do that. What could you achieve if your budget was set every 3 months now instead of once a year?

Level 3: Savvy

ADVANCING IN CLOUD USE

Benefits

IT is a value generation center

Automated checks and measures

Taking advantage of deeper
insights from structured data

Risks

Not utilizing the full potential of your services

Why should you move forward?

Reduced risk

Better ROI

Gaining competitive
advantage

Overview

Remember when IT was a cost center, eating up budgets just to keep it going? Those days are long gone! Now your IT department is a business partner. They help you evaluate your business ideas and respond quickly to changing market conditions with the support of technology and data insights.

There is no more doubt as to which services to choose. The company strategy is clear – it’s cloud all the way. As such, you choose cloud-native workloads and services when in need of a new solution, and keep moving any remaining on-premises services to the cloud. At this point, you’re a bit more comfortable with cloudspecific processes we talked about earlier – DevOps, DevSecOps and DataOps.

This transformation has a considerable impact on your business. Now you can bring new ideas to life quickly, and the business risk is low as all services are predictable, measurable, and secure. Instead of continually investing in IT and getting little back, you now have a business partner and a value generation center.

Click to see full size

1. Strategy

You have reached the point where you no longer need to look back. Technology helps you drive business value, and this is what you can orient your strategy towards. You can make data-driven decisions, put them into practice with DevOps, and measure the results. Your IT is no longer a single team working in isolation. The silos are broken down and teams are interdisciplinary, with people grouped by problems to resolve rather than by departments.

The cloud-savvy strategy uses the multi-cloud approach, with different (private and/or public) services being used. Whatever you choose, new solutions are always built using cloud-native services. Any remaining on-premises applications are scheduled for migration, replacement, or retirement. The cloud is officially king!

2. Architecture and governance

You’ve reached such heights that managing your IT services is a bit like flying a plane – you switch on the autopilot and just check in now and then. This is what having a cloud governance model feels like.

You have common architecture blueprints which include automated checks and measures at deployment. This way you can ensure that all new resources are compliant and consistent with your standards across the entire organization.

3. Data

As you let automation take the controls, you can sit back and enjoy the view. And with your structured data approach, you have brand new insights into your business. Your organization has a data governance model in place with defined and managed data flows. All services related to this domain are cloud-native.

The variety of the data you use increases, with most of it being structured or semi-structured. However, new types of data, such as unstructured (images, video, audio) or streaming (IoT devices, sensors) begin to appear, providing new perspectives on business and/or customer problems.

Users across the organization can take advantage of defined data models with self-service analytics. Everyone can easily access the information they need in their daily work. Additionally, you begin to use Machine Learning which enables creating business value and gaining strategic insights with features like predictive analytics.

4. Operations and process management

You have reached the point where you no longer need to look back. Technology helps you drive business value, and this is what you can orient your strategy towards. You can make data-driven decisions, put them into practice with DevOps, and measure the results. Your IT is no longer a single team working in isolation. The silos are broken down and teams are interdisciplinary, with people grouped by problems to resolve rather than by departments.

The cloud-savvy strategy uses the multi-cloud approach, with different (private and/or public) services being used. Whatever you choose, new solutions are always built using cloud-native services. Any remaining on-premises applications are scheduled for migration, replacement, or retirement. The cloud is officially king!

5. Financial management

As your projects become more dynamic, so does your budgeting. Now you can operate in shorter (quarterly) cycles, relevant to your objectives.

You’re starting to introduce Financial Operations practices as the cost is now being considered as a factor in architecture and solution design. Additionally, you use your governance practices (policies, controls) to manage resource allocation.

6. Security and risk

Because so many aspects of your operations run on autopilot, your security approach needs to be highly sophisticated. At this point, you should have a zero-trust security model adopted throughout the business, to protect it across the board.

You also leverage your cloud resources to protect your organization. Digital services detect and mitigate risk within your resources, both on-premises and in the cloud. The latest technology is in use for minimizing external threats.

7. Tools

At the cloud-savvy stage, you get more involved with more advanced cloud technologies, leveraging their potential to drive business outcomes. Now that DevOps is the primary mode of operation (not just for technical teams), workloads are assigned through services like Azure DevOps and GitHub. Projects are managed according to SAFe essentials or another scaled-out Agile methodology. Service deployments are handled by cloud-based container orchestration services. You also start using new cloud services:

  • Data: Power BI Premium, Data Lake, Event Hub, Machine Learning, Databricks, Stream Analytics, Azure Synapse
    Analytics
  • Serverless applications: EventHub, Azure Functions, API Management, Cosmos DB
  • Security: Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, Cloud App Security, Azure Lighthouse, Azure Arc.

Next steps

Now you can take one last look behind you and commit to the direction in which you’re going. The good news is, you’re now well equipped to be able to make an informed decision. Here are some tips to help you move forward:

1. Align the cloud with your strategy

You’re now in a good position to see what works for your organization, and what doesn’t. Choose each service according to what it can bring in terms of helping you achieve your business objectives, and measure its impact.

2. Use the power of data

Give your people access to the insights they need. They need to know how their actions impact business performance. It will be easier to find new ideas and opportunities if all employees can get the necessary insights when they need it, and not just at a monthly or quarterly update.

3. Strengthen your security posture

Step up your security with advanced analytics and protection. Use governance strategies to automate management of each service and every identity throughout their lifecycles. Establish (or outsource) a Security Operations Center to proactively hunt and mitigate threats to your environment.

4. Embrace automation

There are many time-consuming processes which you can use your cloud for - from simpler ones, like vacation approvals, to more elaborate ones, like generating sales forecasts. Identify the tasks which still take up time unnecessarily, and automate them, so that your people have more time to focus on your customers.

Level 4: Driven

ADVANCING IN CLOUD USE

Benefits

Technology as a business driver

Developing new services or ways of delivery

Risks

Resting on laurels

Why should you move forward?

Reduced risks

Maximized ROI

Maintaining competitive
advantage

Overview

As a cloud-based business, you’re well ahead of your competition. With the latest technologies, constantly developed and updated, you have a considerable advantage. You’re also ready for future challenges.

Technology is no longer just support for your operations, but it is a proactive business driver, allowing you to offer new services or new ways of delivering value to your customers. Cloud services now drive your revenue in an observable and measurable way. You can also move beyond the cloud and closer to your customer, where mobile and IoT solutions help you deliver more value.

With the use of 4xOps, your organization is transformed. All objectives are being set based on data, and results can be easily quantified and evaluated. 

The costs of operating your IT services are optimized, adapting to the current business circumstances. This is largely because there’s very little need for maintenance. As a result, you can focus on core business and revenue generation.

Click to see full size

1. Strategy

Digital services are now at the core of all your services, both new and existing. You have defined cloud-native architecture blueprints, with templates for shared resources. All IT resources have assigned KPIs which relate to business objectives.

2. Architecture and governance

Your cloud services are managed using a governance process executed across the organization. Deployments are automated, as is service and data configuration to ensure compliance. A comprehensive strategy also allows you to automate risk detection and mitigation.

3. Data

With a variety of available services, the organization can now make use of all its data – structured, semi- and unstructured, and streaming. Data flow operations, testing, and model maintenance are governed by the DataOps practices.

The cloud data analytics stack is enriched with Machine Learning and common data models. Business users can make use of insights generated by these solutions using self-service data analytics services.

You’re no longer stuck with a simple view of the past, but can perform what-if analyses and gather predictions for what might happen next. Making decisions is easier when you can see the probable outcomes right in front of you.

4. Operations and process management

Now that your cloud environment practically runs itself (well, almost), IT operations are focused on ensuring service availability and outage prevention rather than routine maintenance. Any improvements are driven by data generated by your services. Business operations can request new cloud solutions or operations via an internal service catalog.

5. Financial management

The flexibility that comes with using cloud services also translates to your approach to budgeting. The cycles are now much shorter, with automated cost allocation and control.

You’re also able to take advantage of the demand-to-cost approach, with adaptive scalability of services across the organization, to optimize costs.

6. Security and risk

Security is no longer an afterthought. It is incorporated into the service lifecycle and fully tied in with integration and deployment pipelines. This protects your solutions from the beginning.

Compliance rules are enforced to apply controls and measurements on resources, which mitigates business risk. Cloud services automate threat monitoring and mitigation for common risks. Additionally, advanced threat analytics allow for proactive hunting, investigation, and mitigation of larger threats.

Next steps

There isn’t much that can surprise you at this stage. Sure, the threats and challenges are still out there, and always will be. But you’re better prepared than most for dealing with them. At this point, other organizations look to you for examples of a successful response.

But what is most exciting is the world of possibilities that is now open to you – and by extension, to your customers. You no longer offer them a single product or a service, but much more beyond that. Your offering can make people’s lives easier, or contribute to building a better world. And here’s the surprise – this is where your journey REALLY begins.

Summary

Cloud adoption is a process. You don’t just decide one day that you’ll move your organization to the cloud, and get everything done the next. It will take time and several iterations. But now you can see how you can structure your migration and which actions to take at every stage.

This was quite a lot to take in, so let’s do a brief recap of each Level, so you can identify more easily where your company might be and where to go next.

Level 0 - Resistant

A company’s IT systems are based 100% on-premises. There is no cloud in use at all, and no intention of adopting any services in the future. The IT department is focused on developing and maintaining internal systems.

This can get difficult at a larger scale, as fast changes to the market or the economy will mean that the business will not be able to respond quickly enough. In a technology-driven reality, it also means that the organization misses out on revenue-generating opportunities.

Level 1 - Aware

Some cloud-based services are in use, mostly to offload some of the on-premises infrastructure and for utility support. This includes business productivity services like email or file-sharing spaces.

This stage allows for some flexibility in terms of maintaining business continuity as access to resources is no longer strictly on-premises. Additionally, reducing infrastructure maintenance costs allows for some savings, which is the main driver of the process at this point.

Level 2 - Guided

The use of the cloud is steadily growing and gaining preference when it comes to building new solutions. It is also a point of closer evaluation, as results are becoming measurable. What’s more, the cloud is gaining a bigger role in protecting resources, both from a security and service reliability points of view.

With a new set of skills, it is possible to try out new services and ideas more quickly. Those that are successful can be relatively easily scaled as required. All employees can benefit from the new tools and use them to simplify their daily work.

Level 3 - Savvy

This stage represents a cloud-first approach. IT is the main support for generating revenue, by providing both relevant technology and deeper insights. Cloud-based practices for operating new services (DevOps, DevSecOps, DataOps) start to appear.

This proficiency in cloud operations allows an organization to adapt quickly and test new ideas efficiently with relatively low risks. IT services are predictable, measurable, and secure. The competitive advantage the cloud brings is increasingly more significant.

Level 4 - Driven

Technology now proactively drives the business. It allows the organization to build innovative services or provide new ways of
enhancing the offering for customers. All decisions are based on data, limiting business risk for new initiatives.

A cloud-driven company is fully transformed to keep digital services at its core. As routine tasks are taken care of by technology, employees can focus on core business. New ideas powered by technology allow the company to maintain a strong competitive edge regardless of market conditions.

The Four Ops

Now that you see how we approach cloud adoption, our 4xOps concept should also be a bit clearer. As you can see, this isn’t a one-time action either – it is a process that develops as you progress on your journey. With this in mind, let us review its elements, informed now by the context of cloud adoption.

DevOps

The essence of DevOps is helping your team find a common ground. There’s no one way to do this – it’s why there’s no single element that will help you implement this practice. Instead, it is a combination of approaches, philosophies and tools based on four key principles: collaboration, affinity, tools and scaling.

Try a new tool like Azure DevOps, utilize the backlog for storing requirements, and define a pipeline for development. Then, iterate – improve or add something new every time.

DevSecOps

The standard approach to security is to implement various tools to protect the resources from the outside. But what’s equally important is to keep them safe on the inside. This is the essence of DevSecOps – integrating security into every aspect of operations. There is no single agent responsible for it – it is everybody’s business!

Introduce policies and share best practices with all your employees, so that everyone can do what they can to prevent incidents. Consider also the security aspects of your product. Simple, automated practices can bring significant results, even at early levels.

DataOps

Data can be very valuable in defining new business directions or finding opportunities for improvement. But first, it needs to be efficiently analyzed. DataOps is a practice that can help to simplify and standardize this process.

It all starts with building a shared repository of information and practices in your organization around data engineering. Then, you need to turn your data into code. After that, introduce automatic testing and deployment for data projects. Before you know it, you’ll start getting deeper business insights from your data on a daily basis.

FinOps

Managing the cost is always a big concern with cloud adoption. It makes sense – it is an investment after all. However, the “standard” approach to finances will no longer help you optimize costs.

In the beginning, the key is to be pragmatic. Focus on the most important services first, as they will have the biggest impact. The next stage is to take a businessdriven approach – as you monitor your resources and their usage, you can make informed decisions on how to allocate budgets. Eventually, you will be able to track the costs down to an individual action and adjust accordingly.

What happens now?

1. Accelerate

Introduce cloud services to your organization and start taking advantage of essential services, to increase your operational capacity.

2. Change

Iterate faster on new ideas and transform your business with new capabilities.
3. Thrive
Keep up with changing client expectations and survive in the highly competitive market with your new capacity to adapt fast!
Scroll to Top