More and more companies are taking the step into the cloud. Our guest author explains which aspects have to be considered so that the transformation does not become a stumbling block.
At the latest through the effects of Corona, companies will feel how important a contemporary digital setup is for their operational business. But organizations whose IT heritage is more traditionally shaped have steep learning curves ahead of them. With a view to cloud transformation, it is therefore essential for companies to create conditions that increase their chances of success from the outset.
1. Willingness to break up silo structures
Anyone who thinks that the cloud transformation will be a sure-fire success as soon as a contract is signed with a well-known provider such as AWS, GCP or Azure is on the wrong track. The first prerequisite for a successful cloud journey is a fundamental change in the organizational structure: away from the silo, for good.
The cloud offers the perfect environment to create real digital innovation. It is crucial for Devops teams to have flexible access to a wide variety of cloud services, such as databases and networks. Because freedom for devops teams has been proven to act as a catalyst for innovation. For example, software delivery is accelerated when Devops teams have the opportunity to work with their favorite tools and services.
Granting this freedom without losing the overview and allowing costs to explode is the responsibility of the cloud foundation team (or cloud competence center), which act as a structural enabler for the devops teams and set the course for go-to -Market scenarios.
The task of the Cloud Foundation team is to look at the software delivery process as a whole – and not in silos. This includes both functional components such as network and databases, as well as organizational issues such as onboarding or billing.
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2. Building the technical competence of teams
Once companies have decided on one or more cloud platforms to migrate and build on, it is important to focus on expanding the technical expertise in the company. In plain language: The employees * have to be trained specifically so that they can work with the new infrastructure.
Digitization increases efficiency, also in terms of personnel. But even if certain areas of responsibility no longer have to be occupied in the course of the migration to the cloud, qualified IT staff should definitely be kept in the company and entrusted with new tasks. Here, too, the Cloud Foundation team can support the ramp-up in the form of advice and training.
3. (Cost) understanding of the new cloud infrastructure
For a large number of companies, the cloud is still uncharted territory and structurally a complete alternative to traditional IT infrastructure. It is important here to establish sensible cost management.
Cloud services work with a pay-per-use concept instead of long-term flat rates. Accordingly, it is very important to sensitize the Devops teams to the new framework conditions and at the same time to integrate instruments for cost control and accounting into the existing processes. Responsible use can only be achieved if all costs are made transparent.
Another phenomenon of the cloud: The decision for a single provider leads to a strong dependence on its proprietary technologies. In addition, the conversion costs are usually very high and switching to a competing provider is not easily possible. Companies should therefore ensure that they have a practicable strategy for exiting the cloud and that they opt for a cloud governance solution that is cloud-agnostic and that the organizational and technical transition to another provider is economically feasible.
4. Acceptance of shared responsibilities in the cloud
A general rule states that the cloud provider is responsible for the security of the cloud, while the responsibility for security in the cloud rests with the company using it.
However, there are other aspects that influence the shared responsibility model, for example the service model used (Iaas vs. PaaS vs. SaaS). If companies use a SaaS service like Google Docs, for example, they don’t have to worry about VM images or databases on which this application runs. However, if you deploy your own MySQL cluster on AWS EC2 instances, you are responsible for encrypting the connection.
Another important factor is the clear division of responsibilities between the Cloud Foundation team and the Devops teams. The cloud foundation can provide a security area with predefined cloud landing zones. The Devops teams build on these central security standards, but have, especially in comparison to the “data center approach”, significantly more space to act freely. They then have to take responsibility for this space.
5. Openness to true agility
Pursuing a cloud strategy is no more than a first step towards a real competitive advantage. If the way of working does not correspond to the attributes “agile” and “cloud-native”, the potential of the cloud will not be fully exploited anyway. Corresponding processes are rather the prerequisite for shifting workload to the cloud and taking advantage of scalability, flexibility and speed.
The interplay between “old” and “new” world is decisive for a high degree of agility: Thanks to the cloud foundation, Devops teams can access the cloud without any organizational overhead. A Devops team leader must be able to set up a cloud account and provide applications – without the central IT having to intervene.
This “self-service character” reduces both the manual workload and the “time-to-cloud” for the devops teams in the company. The aim should be that the Devops teams have access to the cloud within a few minutes.
Conclusion: communication is the key
With all the digitalization dynamics, companies will also encounter resistance on their cloud journey. This journey is accompanied by major structural changes that may also affect certain positions and areas of responsibility.
This transformation process must be controlled in a targeted manner. Organizations and their cloud foundation teams should by no means underestimate the factor of communication and should always show everyone involved in concrete terms why the path to the cloud is worthwhile and how they are supported in this.