by Gregory Levine
For some of you this will feel like shock therapy. Or remember that TV drug commercial from a few decades ago
"…this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs…" ? Well, for many IT leaders who are still protecting their
internal IT and building private clouds – "…this is your job, this is you without your job…". Time to wake
up and think Cloud First!
As in public cloud.
I come across way too many IT leaders who still protect their internal IT environments, and state how they are
different and cannot leverage the public cloud. Sad to say, their days are numbered. I try to explain to these
leaders, sometimes a little too directly, that their businesses are already thinking about and in many cases already
utilizing public cloud services (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS). These IT leaders are becoming disintermediated and do not
realize it. They will claim that external regulators and/or internal compliance teams prevent them from leveraging
the public cloud. Now, there are some limitation of liability or SOC1/2 issues that come up that need to be
considered based on business risk, but there are no rules & regulations that prevent you from utilizing the public
cloud. All industries/sectors are using the public cloud including Financial, Energy, Pharmaceutical, and
Healthcare. Even Federal agencies (NSA, CIA, DOD, etc.) are using the public cloud.
Now, I'm not suggesting you go blindly off and start utilizing public cloud for everything. Perform the necessary
due diligence, and assuming you understand and accept the risks to the business (e.g., limitation of liability,
contract terms, etc.) and various other critical requirements are satisfied (e.g., price, functionality, service
levels, security, performance, time to market, agility, OpEx, scalability, etc.), then strongly consider public
cloud service providers.
Trust me, I have been in your shoes. For the longest time, I fought public cloud mainly because of economic reasons.
But a funny thing happened on my way to the Forum called the Digital Transformation. As businesses overhauled
and/or re-invented themselves for this brave new digital world, IT needed to change too. In fact, many significant
transformational changes were required by IT to support their businesses including:
- Agile SDLC – Iterative approach to rapid delivery of working software.
- IT Service Management - Leverage the ITIL framework to implement Plan/Build/Run processes for IT Services.
- DevOps - Bridge processes/cultures between Agile Developers and Infrastructure teams to deliver world class software
and systems to end users.
- Public Cloud – The Disruptive Technology of the century. It is displacing many resources, technology, and services
that would have traditionally been located in-house.
I remember meeting with the CIO for a super-regional bank who adopted a public cloud first strategy years ago. I told
him he was nuts for wasting money and exposing the bank to significant risk. Six months later I called that CIO to
apologize and commend him for his bold action to support his fast-changing business. This bank's strategy is Cloud
First! Sure, they still have some applications running on their private cloud, and it might take years to fully
migrate to the public cloud. Also, C-level approvals are required to implement anything internally. So, yes they
might have a hybrid cloud for many more years, but their strategy is not Hybrid IT. It is all in with the public
cloud. Cloud First!
You are probably wondering how I can make such a bold statement. The reason is simple – internal IT cannot
compete with public cloud service providers. Whether SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS public cloud service providers have the
scale, flexibility, talent, resources, economies of scale, and service features (elasticity, security, subscription
based pricing, feature/functionality, No CapEx, low OpEx, TCO, etc.) that make it impossible for internal IT to compete.
Hey IT, don't fight it! Embrace it! Remember, at the end of the day, every CEO (yes, EVERY CEO!!!) only cares about
- Top line growth (revenue growth)
- Bottom line growth (margin growth)
- Reduce/Manage Risk
And they expect speed and agility from IT to support the digital transformations required to stay competitive:
- Business Model
- Digitally–modified businesses: Product/service augmentation. Digital wrappers
- New Digital businesses: Digital products. Reshaping organizational boundaries
- Enterprise Integration: Redistribution decision authority. Shared digital services.
- Operational Process
- Process digitization: Automation. Straight–through processing.
- Worker enablement: Broader and faster communication. Knowledge sharing
- Digital intelligence: Operational transparency. Data-driven decision making
- Customer Experience
- Customer understanding: analytics–based segmentation. Socially-informed knowledge
- Top line growth: Digitally-enhanced selling. Predictive marketing. Streamlined customer processes
- Customer touch points: Customer service. Cross–channel coherence. Self service
Yes, transformation is hard, but not changing will be fatal!
And it is critical for IT to adopt a Cloud First strategy to support their business's digital transformation.
IT started to embrace public SaaS years ago (SalesForce.com, WebEx, HR/Payroll services, etc.). And now more and
more companies are leveraging IaaS and PaaS in the public cloud too. Why? Simple - their IT leaders realized that
the benefits associated with public cloud (time to market, speed, agility, no CapEx, low OpEx, feature rich,
flexibility, scalability, elasticity, security, etc.) will help to achieve some or all of things CEO's care about.
Many vendors are frantically trying to offer public cloud services. Yes, they finally get it, but be careful. Did
they build from ground up a cloud service (multi-tenant, carrier class, subscription based, scalability, elasticity,
etc.), or did they just take their existing prem-based solution, host it in their data center, and label it a cloud service? If the latter, call it lipstick on a pig (i.e., the same weaknesses still exist with respect to cost, performance, scalability, complexity, etc. so avoid them).
Critical Success Factors for Cloud First!
Three words – Standards, Standards, and Standards. Hopefully your IT organizations are well underway with
transformational change programs for:
- Agile SDLC – CI, roles, and processes that are defined, consistent, and repeatable
- IT Service Management – Plan, Build, Run operating model and processes for IT services
- DevOps processes – CD, instrumentation, automation
- Technical Debt reduction
Yes, you can start the public cloud journey without these, but the journey will be easier and smoother with these
And finally, well defined frameworks are also critical. The CTO/Chief Architect will need to work in
collaboration with Development and Infrastructure teams to define corporate standards for:
- Prescriptive Software stack(s)
- Application Architectural Framework – SOA/Cloud Native, Micro-services
- Platform services and tools
- Well Architected Cloud Framework
- Shared Cloud Responsibility Model
Hararei is a Cloud Generation solutions provider committed to helping clients prepare for, adopt and deploy
the latest generation of applications and IT infrastructure in public cloud environments. We understand it
likely that many companies will need to operate a hybrid IT environment until their journey to the public cloud is
Let Hararei help you architect your systems for the public cloud. We help to connect current Data Centers to
the Cloud at the Network level with Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) connectivity models or SD-WAN, using Cloud Storage,
V2C migrations, all the way up the stack to orchestrated container models.
Hararei can help companies create agile and productive teams. Starting with an assessment of their environment, we
then work with the customer to identify and quantify the opportunities that will provide the greatest returns. We
help to establish:
- Goals for IT simplification/optimization and the target environments
- Disinvestment programs with clear understanding of financial impact (benefits!)
- Agile SDLC adoption
- IT Service Management – Leverage the ITIL framework to implement the Plan/Build/Run processes for IT Services
- DevOps Strategy – Bridge processes/cultures between Agile Developers and Infrastructure teams to deliver world class PaaS
- Cloud Blueprint – maximize your ROI for public Cloud services (cost, service levels, productivity, security posture)
Contact us for a no obligation consultation.