More organizations are leaning in to the benefits of the cloud today, but sloppy adoption yields diminishing returns.
If an organization wants to deploy mission-critical applications in the cloud, it needs a solid plan based on its unique set of business objectives to be successful, according to Raj Bala, senior research director at Gartner, during the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference last week.
"An enterprise cloud strategy starts with what you hope to get out of the cloud," Bala said. By inquiring about why the business wants to move to the cloud, the IT team set the stage for expectations.
"Far too many enterprises fail to consider really important points like application availability, resiliency and cost," Bala said. "They also tend to not think hard enough about the effort of moving workloads and the resulting benefits."
To help businesses manage their cloud strategy, Bala offered five elements for infrastructure and operations teams to consider as they build enterprise cloud implementations.
1. Design a strategy
If the organization lacks cloud skills internally, step one of adopting a public cloud framework is to build out those skills, according to Bala.
"It's really hard to attract cloud talent today," Bala said. "It involves creating a cloud team, assessing applications' viability for the cloud, building a business case and documenting your cloud strategy."
As organizations upskill the cloud workforce, some vendors have stepped up to bridge the gap. Versatility, the ability to hold multiple roles within the organization as a cloud specialist, connects business unit intentions and helps employees operate in the multicloud environment.
Savvy organizations will understand that the adoption framework shouldn't be in a vacuum, according to Bala. Building a core team with expertise from several departments will help strengthen the cloud strategy by including viewpoints across the business.
IT departments can also benefit from a senior cloud architect to oversee and lead the strategy because it can quickly become complicated, according to Bala. The leadership will have the skills to translate business requirements into technical ones as they lead cultural change.
2. Build a strong foundation for the cloud
As organizations build a cloud foundation, surveying and selecting a cloud provider will take careful consideration. While many cloud providers look alike at a high level, leadership will have to compare, assess and select based on the nitty-gritty differences, according to Bala.
Most organizations will end up using multiple providers to meet business needs and optimize. It can be a challenge to balance, but using the provider's native tools to realize full potential helps, according to Bala.
Then, integrating the cloud foundation with the enterprise's existing core infrastructure helps realize security and other needs more easily, according to Bala.
3. Design and mitigate risks
When adopting a public cloud infrastructure, many businesses will embrace a multicloud framework.
"The reality is that it's a multicloud world," Bala said. Multicloud aids availability of services, both in sourcing and in architecting, to mitigate risks such as vendor lock-in, according to Bala.
"Multicloud allows an organization to deliver its workload across multiple cloud providers thereby satisfying risk and security departments," Bala said.
Bala recommends designing a framework for both availability and security best practices.
4. Put governance policies in place
Governance looks much different for on-prem versus off-prem infrastructures, and organizations can plan accordingly to accommodate. Often crafted and honed through on-prem management, existing governance plans may be inadequate to address the complexity of going off prem, according to Bala.
For example, when considering IT spend, "Your traditional process of managing expenses once every few years for on-premise infrastructure doesn't apply with the cloud," Bala said.
At another session during the conference, David Wright, research director at Gartner, said an effective cloud governance plan aligns with an organization's operating model. Assembling a dispersed team of stakeholders and crafting strong policies from the get-go enables governance success.
Once the strategies are appropriately adopted, organizations can then develop a self-service strategy and other management processes.
5. Strive for operational excellence
With a strong strategy, foundation and governance in place, organizations can finally journey toward operational excellence.
"Operational excellence is typically achieved through focused efforts on optimization and automation," Bala said.
By monitoring consumption, organizations can then optimize their efforts. IT monitoring, however, can be difficult to do well but starting with network monitoring can ease the transition. Bala recommends implementing multicloud management tools to help.