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Transforming operations for successful cloud adoption

Still considering making the move to the cloud? Here are best practices and cloud-centric processes CIOs should follow to enable a successful cloud implementation.

Many CIOs today are interested in the scalability, speed and flexibility benefits that a cloud environment can offer to their enterprise. However, reaping cloud adoption benefits involves much more than a lift-and-shift approach.

While moving from a legacy infrastructure environment to a cloud environment includes maintaining some common ground around applications and compliance, organizations should leave a traditional IT tower-based mentality behind and transform operations by implementing new processes and staffing structures that align with a cloud-native model and managing the IT environment holistically with cloud technology rather than siloed IT units.

Ensure cloud management readiness

CIOs are continuously grappling with the challenges of managing ever-changing IT infrastructure environments. As the cloud infrastructure accelerates the pace of doing business through rapid provisioning time for servers and storage, proactive readiness is essential for a successful cloud implementation. This includes updating IT tower-centric processes to efficiently handle cloud requests and establishing a shared responsibility model between security and IT teams with embedded cloud-native tools.

As the cloud infrastructure accelerates the pace of doing business through rapid provisioning time for servers and storage, proactive readiness is essential for a successful cloud implementation.

Efficient governance and policy standardization that leverage cloud processes and have standardized templates or architecture configurations for compute and network are also key. Ensure there is high awareness of process and task lists, particularly for inter-team dependencies. While these elements are certainly customizable in an established cloud environment, it's easier to support ongoing operations and offer universal access to other organizational user groups when standardized architecture configurations are in place.

Establish cloud-centric strategies and connections

To achieve benefits of cloud adoption such as enhanced skillsets, a timely provisioning process and improved end-user satisfaction levels, CIOs need to lay the proper groundwork. Cloud management readiness as described above is key, as is establishing the following cloud-centric processes and connections to drive operational success:

  • Form a cloud team with clearly designated roles and skillsets

Start your cloud adoption by creating a dedicated cloud team for all new cloud-related requests. Lack of cloud skills and experience is a common deficiency in organizations transitioning to a cloud environment and is often one of the more daunting gaps to fill.

Several of the new roles required for an optimal and scalable cloud operation may be sourced from existing roles and skillsets, particularly if the organization is prepared to make an investment in training existing, capable resources. For example, a solid enterprise architecture organization can evolve its skillsets with the help of additional training on DevOps principles and cloud architecture best practices within their industry.

  • Standardize cloud policies

Standardize processes and templates for cloud requests across all company sectors and business units. To establish proper cloud policies, create automated provisioning for cloud services and collectively develop and optimize strategies that meet the organization's usage, security and budget needs. This includes building repeatable automation capabilities and services that are isolated for independent availability, elastic scalability and built-in tooling for security controls.

  • Institute proper governance

Build a robust cloud center of excellence (CCoE) with the capability to scale as needed. A CCoE can help establish and enforce success criteria for cloud governance including architectural performance, cost management, asset management, security and rate of cloud adoption. Cloud management platforms (CMPs) are used to enforce policies and ensure compliance. The keys here are to adhere to industry best practices and engage your security and compliance stakeholders in building the CCoE.

  • Form a cloud concierge

Some CIOs have also opted to establish a "cloud concierge," which serves as the intermediary between business units and their cloud service providers. Specifically, this role is responsible for gathering requirements for review and the placement of potential cloud workloads. Further, enterprise architecture governance processes can be effective for validating workload requests to guarantee review from multiple discipline areas.

  • Leverage architecture standardization

Be sure to update and enhance current IT architectural standards to align with the new cloud adoption strategy. Also take the time to develop cloud-native architectures rather than applying a lift-and-shift approach for existing standards. Lastly, prioritize the development of an enterprise architecture roadmap for all required cloud capabilities.

  • Create a FinOps team for driving cost savings strategies

A new discipline called "FinOps" has arisen within enterprise cloud teams, with the purpose of optimally monitoring and managing cloud expenditures, as cloud forecasting is very different from forecasting a centrally managed legacy infrastructure. Monitoring individual workloads and the telemetry available for tracking them in the public cloud is also key.

CIOs should designate FinOps experts who are responsible for maintaining visibility for cloud utilization and cost allocation models and collaborating with finance to establish value realization, tracking and accountability frameworks to drive cost savings. This team will implement best practices including optimization analysis, reserved instance management, tiered optimization modeling, multi-cloud billing analysis and showback and chargeback analysis.

Cloud pitfalls are aplenty, but allocating enough resources during the cloud adoption planning phase will help mitigate potential landmines, reveal the economics of cloud adoption and help establish the leadership, communication, people, processes and technology required to achieve such economics.

With the right models, methodologies, strategies and best practices in place, CIOs can overcome these challenges with a value governance approach that enables their organizations to implement a sound cloud implementation.

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