INSIGHT 07: Adopting Multi-Cloud (Part 2)
In this series “INSIGHT: The Technical Director’s Perspective” I’ll share my years of hands-on experience to demystify the Cloud and help you gain control over your IT roadmap.
At this stage of your multi-cloud digital transformation journey, you should have a consensus across your stakeholders about where you are now and where you want to be. You should have identified the goals of the transformation, as well as the pain points currently stopping you from reaching your ‘end-state’.
Now it’s time to define your cloud roadmap. You know where you want to be, but how do you get there?
Create your cloud roadmap
In the first part of this guide, I asked you to define success for your business from adopting multi-cloud. To do so, the business’ stakeholders had to unilaterally answer three questions:
- What are the business outcomes that you want to achieve?
- What issues and pain points are keeping you from achieving those outcomes?
- Do you have access to any metrics? Can they be used to measure the rate of success?
These questions helped you to answer the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your digital transformation journey.
Why you are embarking on this journey and what you wish to achieve.
Let’s recap those two sections quickly.
Is your business innovative in its approach to technology? Is it simply adopting multi-cloud as part of a constant update cycle to keep itself at the forefront of workforce efficiency?
Or are you battling a slow changing enterprise with a legacy mindset? Have you convinced them to dip their toes into the cloud, perhaps with DRaaS, and are now pushing for full multi-cloud adoption?
Is your business looking to lower IT costs? Reduce technical debt? Make IT expenditure more predictable?
Does the business want to shift away from break-fix IT and towards utilising IT as a business driver?
Does it want to better protect data and at the same time increase accessibility?
This is what your business wants to achieve from adopting multi-cloud and why.
Now it’s time to answer the ‘how’ and ‘when’.
How will you successfully achieve your goals?
The agent of change for your digital transformation journey, whether yourself, somebody else internally or an external consultant, needs to plan, manage and guide group meetings with key stakeholders; just like in part 1.
A roundtable discussion, these meetings are designed to gain agreement on the best path to your business outcomes.
The last thing you want is solo actors establishing their own solutions away from the main business. Because even those with the best intentions can endanger the business by creating the threat of shadow IT.
Some topics to consider for your discussions are current IT trends and strategies. What are the best practises you believe you should adhere to, as well as the industry trends to investigate further?
Also, what’s your existing application portfolio? Will it change?
This will impact what your ideal multi-cloud operating model looks like.
Will you place everything in public cloud platforms? Will you keep everything private? Is it best to use a hybrid approach, keeping business and process-critical apps in private clouds, with less performance-sensitive apps kept in public clouds to reduce costs?
How will you test these environments?
How will you migrate to them?
Will these platforms scale based on the predicted growth of the business?
By establishing a high-level vision of how your multi-cloud solution will operate allows you to narrow down the best possible solutions, giving you more time to explore them in detail.
When will your multi-cloud go live and start delivering ROI?
Defining the high-level future state of your IT operating model will allow you compare the differences between the future state and the current state of your IT in regards to infrastructure, your consumption model and the applications used.
You can use this comparison to define how long the process will take when the switchover occurs and in what stages it takes place.
IT tends to exist within a five-year operating window. Not every business needs to adopt this five-year cycle, but those requiring best-of-breed technology need to upgrade more frequently to keep up with the pace of innovation in the sector.
So, with the implementation of any multi-cloud rollout, there’s an implied five-year countdown as most technologies experience a complete change within this lifecycle. The ideal scenario is to successfully roll multi-cloud within the first two years and start reaping the rewards, recouping any investments and generating a return on investment (ROI) for the business for the remaining period.
However, businesses must be cautious and considered in their approach.
It’s better to take an extra few months to flesh out a solution and ensure its long-term viability than to jump in at the deep end because of the short-term gains and be left with the wrong solution for the duration of this IT cycle.
Plan for the long-term
Not all roadmaps are thorough.
Many organisations start and end their multi-cloud planning stage with an infrastructure roadmap. They are focussed entirely on servers, storage, networks and deployment. Solely on the technology at the heart of the transformation.
However, how the new technology will affect other aspects, such as the operating model and the service delivery are an afterthought.
For the operating model, these organisations don’t look at how end users will interact with the new solutions. Nor do they contemplate what training they will need to provide, what workflows will change and how productivity will be affected during the transition.
And for service delivery, many organisations will travel down the path of ‘cloud-first’ for applications. Unfortunately, they do so with little regard for data compliance and GDPR, interoperability, interdependencies or costs incurred.
Will certain legacy applications make the switch to cloud? Can they scale effectively in the cloud? Do they need to be re-written? Will they have to be replaced?
Many expect that moving all applications to a public cloud will increase availability, scalability, flexibility and performance, all while lowering costs.
However, to achieve any of these benefits, you need to build an effective cloud roadmap. Businesses need to not only understand the changes to their infrastructure, but also the changes to their operating model and service delivery.
You also need to understand the dependencies between these three areas and how they each have an impact on the success of your digital transformation journey.
Identify Near-Term Priorities
Not all roadmaps are equal.
You know the overall plan, the future state and what is required to reach it. However, you should structure your long-term roadmap into stages, rather than addressing every single requirement in a large-scale project plan.
Looking into the world of DevOps, developers quickly deliver the main essentials of functionality into what it called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by using an ‘agile approach’ to software development.
Once you deliver the first MVP, the next stage is adjusted and improved based on metrics and feedback from this first stage. Then, every update onwards is influenced by the previous stage.
This iterative approach makes both reactive and pro-active changes easier to build and deploy, without disrupting the entire workflow or missing the intended delivery date.
When monitored and managed properly, this approach also works effectively for Digital Transformations too.
You should plan these stages later on in the roadmap development. The detailed aspects of each stage could change until you’ve ratified your long-term plans.
Once your cloud roadmap has taken shape, start by aligning goals and deliverables across infrastructure, operating model and service delivery. This allows you to plan for the overall transformation outcomes.
For example, what are the minimum infrastructure requirements needed by the first wave of applications migrated? This can be built and deployed in a few months, rather than building the perfect end-state over a few years.
As for the operating model, what processes can easily transition to the cloud? Instead of trying to transition all of them at once, which ones are necessary for this first stage?
By identifying these near-term priorities, you can plan, sustain and measure this agile, staged approach to digital transformation with greater insight and ease.
The cloud roadmap is pivotal in your Digital Transformation endeavour. It defines your long and near-term goals, multi-cloud objectives and transformation priorities.
By opening up your roadmap to encompass not only infrastructure but also the operating model and service delivery, your transformation journey will be measurable, sustainable and overall, more successful.
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