While the cloud might be a universe of unending transformative possibilities, not everything is rosy when it comes to cloud adoption. A year back, ‘cloudification’ rates were found to be half of the projected global numbers. This begs the question: Are we overvaluing the possibilities of cloud and demonizing traditional IT? Is the latter still relevant on an enterprise’s future scale? While part of the same could be true for small businesses, the real demon behind the slack lies elsewhere: Inertia.
Since eons immemorial, humanity has been resistant to transformations. Whether it be new world orders, policies, philosophies, or innovations, people find excruciating ‘habitual comfort’ with existing systems and hence defer their replacement with anything new. For enterprises though, this non-cloud deterrence is more than a habitual comfort. As highlighted prior, lack of proper consultation often blinds executives over the real benefits of the cloud leading to severe operational disruption and financial concerns. Faced with a decision enigma hence to choose between operational losses and ‘revolutions’, ‘practical-minded’ CIOs and CTOs more often than not, favors the former. To impart some credit to global leaders and even cloud providers, cloud ecosystems are still covering their initial phases and would take a while to deliver the revolutionary promise it holds around the globe.
Below are some common deadlocks plaguing enterprise leaders in the strategizing, adoption, and implementation of cloud technologies and hence limiting the promise of cloud transformation.
- Stalls after pilot implementations: Not all cloud implementations, be it greenfield or brownfield, are entirely successful. Migration disruptions, failovers, data losses could be common unless proper assessment and blueprinting are done beforehand. As with any new technology or decision, once the pilot move fails, a major chunk of the management opts for continuing with traditional IT systems and preserving finances.
- The Cloud slam lock: Often, IT resources are not equipped to handle all the queries, transformation necessities of the enterprise’s backend landscape. Hence, a cloud solution gets jammed up with multiple initiatives, automation deadlocks, interfacing issues, synchronicity, and more. This serves as a huge mindset deterrent for CIOs.
- Shortcuts are not always the answers: Lift and shift of applications to the cloud, for medium and large scale organizations are often transformation less, shortcuts more. In a bid to accelerate cloud adoption and keep business operations, as usual, most firms opt to lift and shift critical applications on the cloud without any architectural customizations (re-factoring, re-architecting, re-placing). As a result, interfacing issues prevail that deters user experiences. To the end-user and the decision-maker without sufficient knowledge of the core problem, the blame shifts to the cloud platform and not their faulty decision-making.
- Chaos on Cloud: The cloud is akin to a supermall with hundreds of thousands of tools, services, solutions, and endless possibilities. Hence, firms should have aligned business objectives and strategic visions on what to leverage from cloud platforms. However, in reality, lack of knowledge and vision make them adopt systems, architectures, and tools without much synchronicity. This shoots up operational issues, risks, and cloud costs.
- Non-optimized cloud costs: In a second scenario, while CIOs harbor the necessary strategic blueprint to embrace a cloud platform, they lack the sufficient knowledge to understand the nitty gritty of the ecosystem and how to fine-tune tools, slash unnecessary requirements, and optimize the ecosystem to truncate the overall TCO. Non-optimized cloud costs could serve as a major silo to an enterprise’s IT plans in the long run.
- Lack of ROI-mapped initiatives: The best case to start on the cloud is to optimize or ‘cloudify’ key operational segments that could lead to immediate business impact: security management and DR, ERP, Customer relationship management, DevOps, Faster go to market timelines, and more. However, organizations fail to adopt such fine-tuned ROI-mapped strategies that align with immediate business needs and goals.
- Stunted Innovations: While a common notion circumscribes enterprises that moving to the cloud entitles ‘innovative’ outcomes, the same might not be true unless the transformative areas are properly defined. Cloud ecosystems do deliver unique AI, IoT, Big Data, Blockchain tools that could evolve a business’ offerings and unleash new customer experiences. To avail the same, however, the organization must harbor sufficient expertise instead of complete reliance on the cloud provider.
- Risks Remain: Cloud ecosystems don’t entitle automatic protection to all client’s assets including systems, applications, hardware, network, computing resources. Partnership with dedicated cybersecurity experts results in the development of dedicated cloud security blueprints that embed threat intelligence, automatic monitoring and alerting, risk prediction, preventive maintenance, end-point protection, managed detection and response, ransomware-malware preventions, dark web protections, etc. Occasionally, on the flip side, firms don’t opt for the extra mile in bolstering their organizational security on the cloud, going for traditional perimeter protections. This devalues their investments in the cloud. Most companies are yet to implement zero-trust models. Akin to a Cloud DevSecOps model, the cloud architecture needs to be designed keeping security considerations at the very heart of the process and not as perimeter protection.
- Recurring Delays and outlays: There have been multiple instances wherein firms experience additional delays and outlays post adopting a cloud environment. Complexities aside, this occurs due to their continued usage of internal datacenters and routing the traffic via these assets. This is a major reason why datacenter modernization on the cloud tops the significance list for cloud service models. In extra to operational lags, these add infra costs by almost 20%
- Vendor Lock-ins: As one scales down the cloud peak wherein the giants reside, a whole new world would be unlocked, brimming with thousands of cloud providers. Millions of SMEs often opt for such cloud providers or managed service providers without a thorough understanding of their strategic needs on the cloud. Partnership with a single provider hence often locks their IT asset’s architectural capabilities with a single cloud ecosystem, making it difficult to adopt new solutions and architectures. The risks enhance when considered that disasters occurring to this vendor could jeopardize the client’s operations in their entirety.
- Multi-vendor flood: On the opposite spectrum of single vendor lock-ins, many organizations move forward with multiple cloud platforms to modernize key essentialities of their existing operations. Complexities arise when this list adds on with expanding services, features, and market needs. More often than not, there is an utter lack of a universal platform to navigate, manage, and maintain these cloud environments leading to a non-synchronous, catastrophically complex IT environment.
- The project-driven mindset: A considerable chunk of CIOs around the globe view their functionalities as IT projects. While that seems to be the norm, this stunts their vision of the future outcomes. Every IT Project is related to a product, offering, or end experience. Cloud platforms need to be adopted to enhance those end capabilities and not an issue within the process. IT ‘projects’ are mainly segments of the entire offering lifecycle and it's the latter that should be kept in mind while adopting cloud platforms. For instance, adopting a stringent security tool to protect a platform’s authorization capabilities might end up torturing the user for continual OTP-enabled sign-ins to the platform every time the user tries to log in.
- The Developer Experience lag: Akin to the last challenge, CIOs should also focus on the developer’s experience while adopting a cloud platform. Embedding the cloud at every stage of the DevOps model and viewing the former as a significant segment of the latter could lead to wonders. However, in most cases, IT support gains the upper hand and cloud-native tools and practices are seldom adopted keeping in mind the DevOps cycle.
- Limited integrations and agility: More often than not, cloud platforms are adopted to ‘facilitate’ and augment the traditional IT infra and not as a complete replacement. While this could have been a good move had it been a hybrid cloud architecture, in reality, this messes up the entire landscape. Traditional IT processes of such organizations are usually outdated, slow, and risk-prone that limits the cloud’s agility. To leverage maximum benefits out of the cloud, ensure that the platform is fully automated, infrastructure abstracted, and software completely defined according to the cloud architecture.
- Lack of proper talent and skills: By far one of the most significant deterrents to cloud adoption, sufficient cloud engineers and talents in infrastructure designing, software development, maintenance, security monitoring, applications testing, are rare. Hence, even though enterprises avail managed service providers to streamline their cloud adoptions successfully, most don’t opt for end-to-end support cycles. On the other hand, the lack of a proper cloud IT and engineering team limits their capabilities on the cloud, subjecting to accelerating devalues in the long run.
Myths and Misconceptions:
Having broken down the common roadblocks faced by CIOs around the world in cloud adoption and implementation, below is a list of five myths that need to be addressed to help leaders leverage the best out of their cloud platforms:
- Myth 1: Cloud should be adopted to reduce IT Costs: While proper optimization strategies do reduce IT costs on the cloud due to the latter’s centralized structure in modernizing all infra, applications, platforms, seldom that’s not the case. The major values of the cloud lie in uninterrupted scalability of operations without worrying about compute, storage, network limitations. This delivers world-class availability and agility across the entire organization. Also, the cloud’s as-a-service and native solutions deliver organizations regardless of size and sector to adopt cutting-edge technological advancements with unprecedented ease and agility without worrying about the underlying infrastructure struggles.
- Myth 2: Private Security Triumphs Cloud Security: No, private cloud or security of privately managed data centers are not always stronger than shared, public cloud models. In most cases, security loopholes arise due to faulty workflows, actions, and lack of knowledge within a client’s internal team structure. Gartner proclaims that by 2025, 99% of risks would stem from a firm’s internal issues rather than external ones. On the other hand, public cloud providers are increasingly spending billions of dollars annually on bolstering the security of their cloud ecosystems. Firms can embrace and leverage intelligent automation tools, frameworks, compliant-ready architectures to amplify organizational security including access control, identity management, event management and alerting, threat prediction, monitoring, managed detection and response, and preventive maintenance.
- Myth 3: Shared Cloud implies greater latency: Latency and outlay issues often stem from traffic or data backhauling: When excessive amounts of raw data flow through a client environment’s internal networks. Hence privately managed datacenters with limited infra capabilities often result in traffic cloggings and poor end-user experience. IT teams usually backhaul data when they lose trust in public cloud platforms. Public cloud platforms, even though operating on a multi-tenant model, harbor magnanimous resources to scale up operations and virtual asset capabilities as and when required for organizations. This phenomenal characteristic is in-built to impart hyper scalable performance to workloads and churn down latencies and outlays to the bare minimum.
- Myth 4: Cloud Adoption means Zero Infrastructure: Infrastructure-as-a-Service gained immense popularity owing to its replacement of traditional hardware costs with subscription-based infra renting from cloud providers. Hence, even though this entitles no extra costs to purchase, maintain, and update cutting-edge IT machinery or hardware, renting them all from providers, doesn’t necessarily mean the end of all infrastructure management for companies. First thing first, basic facilities to access the cloud, route networks, create internal connections are necessary. Also, businesses still need to hire infrastructure management and developer teams to maintain the cloud environment, re-factor or re-architect software and application codes to leverage the cloud best, and create a cloud-powered delivery or operational model across the enterprise’s varied functionalities.
- Myth 5: Transition should be made either on the Application level or at the Datacenter Level: Debunking this thought, there’s no genuine polarity of the cloud promise. The myth stems from the reality that most leaders and users can fathom either the application side of the IT architecture or its core hardware side: systems, machinery, devices, etc. However, the most effective way would be to conduct a careful assessment of the firm’s entire IT landscape and create a strategic blueprint: what devices, applications, software need to be modernized and how can the same be achieved in a way that translates into immediate ROI? Usually, when considered the objectives, cloud platforms should be adopted in a way that the objective is modernized end-to-end. For instance, if a banking application’s core backend architecture is shifted to the cloud but its user interfaces are still on private data centers, that might spell a huge issue. For every query on the interface, the cloud platform would request access to the on-prem architecture or access the same through APIs that would significantly deter the process. Cloudification can be availed on multiple fronts, levels that necessitate a carefully articulated architecture design keeping the entire IT landscape and the business needs, future objectives in mind.
In the last and final part of this blog series we will cover Managed Cloud Service Providers: Who and What they Deliver?. Keep watching this space - Don't miss it!