Enterprise Cloud Adoption: 3 Insights for Driving Change

By Mathew Mathew, Director of Engineering

Reflecting back on the last decade, one of the stories that has stayed true and constant is the story of cloud computing. It’s a story that just keeps building and resonating with every passing year. Cloud has helped to turn Microsoft into a trillion dollar company. And it’s helped to launch more than a dozen unicorn companies, letting them achieve unprecedented scale in remarkably short periods of time.

Cloud growth continues unabated, with AWS and Azure reporting year-over-year growth rates of 35% and 59% respectively. In the earlier part of the decade, the growth of cloud was driven mostly by startups. These days, growth is increasingly being driven by enterprise companies that have come to accept cloud as the way forward.

Starting the enterprise cloud journey

For enterprises, the transition to cloud is motivated in part by end-of-life scenarios for their current data centers. It’s also motivated by a desire for enterprises to move faster and be more innovative. The cloud transition is often messy and complicated, and not only because it requires companies to pause what they’re currently doing and refocus their efforts on cloud migration. It also involves fundamentally changing the way companies work.

This need for change is something we saw firsthand in our work helping a global telecom company begin their cloud journey. We started by engaging in two parallel workstreams:

  • The first workstream centered around Application Assessment. For this effort, we analyzed the company’s existing application portfolio and selected the apps that were the best candidates for initial cloud migration.
  • The second workstream focused on Cloud Strategy and Organizational Enablement. For this, we conducted a number of workshops to help the company develop requirements for their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Cloud Environment, along with the organization required to support that environment.

The diagram below shows how these two work streams were structured. The final result was a detailed execution roadmap for the initial migration — one aligned with their business needs as well as their current capabilities.

These two work streams represent the first phase of the company’s cloud journey. With this initial phase now complete, it’s a good time to reflect on some insights that will help us — and hopefully others — in future cloud adoption journeys.

Transform people, not just technology

It turns out the cloud journey is more about transforming people than it is about technology. Bill Belichick, who has coached the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl wins, famously says: just do your job. Those are simple words, but there’s a lot underpinning them. Living up to these words means that everyone knows the plan, their role, and their job. Sprinkle in some grit, and you have a championship team.

That’s easier said than done, of course. The cloud journey is more than just moving a compute workload from an on-premise data center to cloud infrastructure. It involves role transitions, along with process and culture changes. Having a clear strategy and communication plan centered around people is vital to the long-term success of the initiative.

Understand where they are

These days, state-of-the-art cloud technology usually involves some flavor of Kubernetes or a (no pun intended) serverless PaaS service. Technologies like these might be all the rage with those in the know, but there’s a good chance your customer isn’t ready for them. While modernization is definitely in the cards, it is probably a better bet to coach your customer on well-understood DevOps methodologies, tools, and principles rather than trying to get them to adopt technologies that are still evolving.

Get to the underlying goals

The initial phase of a cloud adoption journey involves pushing past a sometimes intimidating lineup of choices and options. Plus, the industry is evolving at an incredibly rapid clip, making companies feel like they’re always out of date. This is where a cloud technology partner can help. A partner who specializes in cloud migration and adoption can help companies focus on what’s most important right now.

As a technology partner, one area where we often find we provide value is in creating alignment between different organizations within an enterprise. Sometimes just getting different parts of an enterprise to agree on a game plan for moving forward is a more important goal than any particular technology choice.

Technology can create a lot of exciting options for companies. But in the end, successful execution still comes down to people, people, and people.



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