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By Gary Thome
As many organizations rush headlong into public cloud, IT continues to adjust to the complexities these environments create. Cost concerns, security, and a widening skills gap seem to consume today’s agenda, but is there a more basic issue at play here?
According to one industry analyst, the answer is yes. A cultural solution to cloud adoption may hold the key to greater success.
In a recent podcast, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, discusses this topic with Edwin Yuen, Senior Analyst for Cloud Services and Orchestration, Data Protection, and DevOps at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)[i]. Several interesting insights from the interview caught my attention.
It’s not the technology slowing you down; it’s the culture
Gardner begins the interview by asking why enterprises are not culturally ready for public cloud adoption. Yuen explained one reason is that the role of IT in this new cloud world is not well-defined.
“We see a lot of business end-users and others essentially doing shadow IT – going around IT. That actually increases the friction between IT and the business,” explains Yuen. “It also leads to people going into the public cloud before they are ready, before there’s been a proper evaluation – which can potentially derail things.”
Yuen went on to say lines of business (LOB) or other groups are not working with core IT as they deploy to the public cloud; therefore, they are not getting all of the advantages they can. “You want to maximize the capabilities and minimize the inconvenience and cost. Planning is absolutely critical for that — and it involves core IT,” says Yuen. To ensure the best results possible, you should involve key players in the organization. For example, the organization’s procurement experts should be consulted to ensure you get the best deal for your money.
Budgeting is also important. “Companies very quickly realize that they don’t have variable budgets,” continues Yuen. “They need to think about how they use cloud and the consumption cost for an entire year. You can’t just go about your work and then find that you are out of budget when you get to the second half of the fiscal year.”
The beauty of an as-a-service model is you only pay for what you use. The risk is you have a virtually unlimited capacity to spend money. Remember, while capacity appears unlimited, budgets are not. IT is in the best position to help advise in this area, working with end users and procurement to ensure the organization doesn’t overspend in the cloud.
Bridging the cultural divide: a new level of communication
Yuen also brought up the importance of communication within the enterprise. “The traditional roles within an organization have been monolithic. End-users were consumers, central IT was a provider, and finances were handled by acquisitions and the administration. Now, everybody needs to work together, and have a much more holistic plan. There needs to be a new level of communication and more give-and-take.”
The key for improved cloud adoption, says Yuen, is opening the lines of communication, bridging the divides, and gaining new levels of understanding. “This is the digital transformation we are seeing across the board. It’s about IT being more flexible, listening to the needs of the end users, and being willing to be agile in providing services. In exchange, the end users come to IT first.”
Before public cloud, users of IT didn’t have to worry about cost or security issues, because IT handled it all for them. When an organization switches to the cloud without IT involvement, they often don’t discover everything IT was doing for them until things go wrong. Conversely, when supporting cloud environments, IT needs to make it fast and easy for users to deploy applications, while also putting guardrails in place. Successfully deploying cloud means working with a full stack team of experts all across the organization before jumping into a cloud operating model.
An inverse mindset
Yuen also brings up something he calls an inverse mindset. Traditionally, organizations maintained and optimized specific infrastructure to impact an application in a positive way. “Now, we are managing applications to deliver the proper experience, and we don’t care where the systems are. That infrastructure could be in the public cloud, across multiple providers; it could be in a private cloud, or a traditional backend and large mainframe system.” They just have to be configured correctly to provide the best return and performance the business requires.
As organizations embrace this inverse mindset, Yuen says it will be critical to monitor everything across all the different environments effectively with tools that automate and orchestrate. Additionally, organizations need machine learning (ML) or artificial intelligence (AI). “Once we train the models, they can be self-learning, self-healing, and self-operating. That’s going to relieve a lot of work.”
[i]Podcast recorded on Nov. 15, 2018. Recently Yuen became Principal Product Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Services.
About Gary Thome
Gary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies.
To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.