Hype surrounding cloud operations has reached a fever pitch in the technology community, but tech leaders have to work to change internal cultures often resistant to change to prepare for cloud adoption. As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) prepared to move to the cloud, focus turned toward breaking down silos, implementing DevOps and understanding that culture is just as important as technology while undergoing the cloud journey, said Sherry Stevens, senior project manager at NAIC.
NAIC "started to talk and socialize change" and provided managers with FAQs around cloud migration, Stevens said last week at the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington. Key to starting the migration and getting people engaged was the introduction of the ADKAR model, which emphasizes awareness, desire to engage and participate, knowledge, ability to change, and the reinforcement of how the organization was undergoing change.
For Stevens, the a key aspect of NAIC's transition to the cloud was to use a formal change management model, with formal work streams around organizational change and change management. Short feedback loops and iterative change can keep people bought in and engaged with large-scale technology transformations.
Some experts say businesses have entered a "post-cloud era." That, however, is where companies hope to be, not where they actually are in terms of cloud adoption.
Enterprise public cloud spend is growing and more companies are working to leverage multiple clouds, running applications in and experimenting with a total of almost five clouds, according to a 2018 Rightscale cloud survey.
But organizations are not 100% in the cloud, as the industry hype would lead some to believe. In 2018, Forrester predicts half of global enterprises will use at least one public cloud platform. While it's a turning point in terms of adoption, it still leaves much room to grow.
That's not to say businesses are just getting started moving to the cloud. Many tech leaders and companies have worked to reconfigure technology buying cycles toward the "as a Service" model. This prioritizes monthly purchases rather than three- to four-year buying cycles for infrastructure hardware.
Many companies are in the middle of this transition. While a few applications may be cloud based, many still rely on on-premise systems. As Stevens notes, the NAIC is in year two of a four-year journey to the cloud. Up until now, much of the work has been in preparing for the cloud move; migration will follow.
Technology leaders have to help lead their organizations toward a new mindset that prioritizes new technology adoption and change. While it may be a difficult ask, particularly for decades-old companies mired in aging tech, in the long run it will help create a new internal culture geared toward efficiency.