Cloud Transformation: Promises and Pitfalls

BrandPost By NTT
Feb 03, 2022
Cloud Management

Cloud transformation is at or near the top of almost every enterprise CIO & CISO to-do list for 2022.

Two Professionals looking at I-pad
Credit: NTT

By Chris DePerro

The Public Cloud can sometimes feel like the old Atari game ‘Pitfall’.  On one hand you are strolling through the jungle on a great adventure trying to acquire money and complete objectives that will enhance your position. To achieve those objectives though, you must jump though fire, avoid pits, scorpions, and even hungry alligators.  The cloud is very similar in that it has great rewards as long as you can avoid many of the dangers that exist.

Cloud transformation is at or near the top of almost every enterprise CIO and CISO to-do list for 2022. The decision to move to a cloud-first posture marks a major shift in a company’s IT strategy: one that brings with it countless benefits, from cost savings and optimization to scalability. At the same time, it raises a host of important questions around, platform choice, security, and overall management, to name a few. An effective transformation  must start with a deep understanding of where the enterprise’s environment is today and critically, where the enterprise wants to be in the future. In short, what capabilities are lacking today that the organization wants the cloud to address?

The best journey

To start this journey properly,  the first step would be to conduct a thorough assessment of the current technical architecture and operating state of the organization. Care needs to be taken to uncover as many assets as possible so that an initial baseline understanding of the environment can be achieved. While seeking to unwind technical debit from the legacy landscape, an eye still needs to be kept on the more current deployments ensuring that they adhere to best practices.   Also, attention must be paid to  unusual needs or capabilities in other geographies, verticals or specialized operations that might exist within the business. 

Today’s enterprise cloud environment is expanding and can become extremely complex. But the sophistication in many of the top cloud platforms has somewhat of a yin-yang relationship.

On the plus side, these cloud environments offer tremendous capabilities, for functionality, cybersecurity, data storage and analytics. Used properly, they can advance security and operational orders of magnitude. But those same wondrous capabilities can add to confusion, inefficiency and even security  gaps if those capabilities are not properly understood and communicated (via training) to all relevant stakeholders. 

Stakeholders often don’t know about all of a cloud’s features or best practices

Many stakeholders  don’t use all of their (paid-for) cloud capabilities because they simply don’t know about them, which can also intensify an existing big problem for IT: inaccurate, incomplete, and out-of-date data maps. Nowhere is this more the case than it is with shadow IT.

Don’t discount the advantage of bringing in a separate set of eyes, ideally external ones. There’s a business concept called the power of ignorance. It simply means that after 58 meetings and reviewing 17 versions of a document, the current team starts to fill in the blanks in a way that a fresh external team wouldn’t. That external team can spot problems because it’s all new to them. Bringing in consultants to help improve asset inventory and data maps can prove quite useful. 

Public cloud platforms such as AWS, Google, Oracle Cloud and Azure are constantly previewing new features and capabilities. What is possible / what is desirable, with the intersection of the cloud, on-prem, remote, mobile IoT/IIoT? Even without those complex intersections, many of the major public cloud platforms offer a  comprehensive portfolio of features, but few people are able to learn all of them. Many customers don’t always know the  breadth of the capabilities they are paying for, precluding the possibility of appropriately leveraging them.  It’s best to not rush to quickly into making changes, be sure you understand the  core features of your existing cloud platform before running toward something new. Or similar.

The yin-yang of clouds

The power of the cloud is a double-edged sword that can both help and harm organizations depending on how it is wielded. On one hand it can be very simple to do initial deployments and experimentation. This allows teams to be more agile and develop solutions at a rapid pace. The dangerous side of the sword is when those experiments can too often turn into production services without all of the proper security, governance, and organizational structure. When this happens security issues, operational gaps or even commercial issues can cause significant operating impact. If the problem is bad enough, organizations can find themselves in a situation of data theft or unwanted exposure making national news. 

While many of the cloud platforms have some level of parity, each also has differences that an organization is wise to be aware of prior to production roll out. If proper cloud governance isn’t established it can make it easier for LOBs to go off into the woods, which can be very bad for the CIO/CISO and the enterprise.

From a business perspective, a loosely managed cloud can become very expensive very quickly. Enterprises should examine infrastructure, the number of API calls, billing, and performance triggers. You can be charged not solely on consumption, but also for specific types of transactions. How will your apps and devices likely function in this new cloud environment?

Those questions bring many licensing and cost implications. With licensing, for example, your group might be paying to license applications that your new cloud environments include as part of the fee. Watch that carefully as it could deliver significant licensing savings in the subsequent year. 

Bottom line

While standing up an initial Cloud Platform is easy, enterprise Cloud transformation can be very complex. For a move of this magnitude, enterprises may need a strategic partner to help guide them along their journey. From planning and migration to management and modernization working with an experienced partner can save costly mistakes.

Every enterprise has unique requirements and are at a different level of maturity on their Cloud journey. Therefore, enterprises should seek a partner that deploys a consultative approach to fully understand their landscape, business challenges and technology goals and one that has expertise in defining, migrating, and managing cloud environments of all sizes. Click here[SO1]  to learn how NTT Cloud Transformation Services can assist you in transforming your business.