Debunking three common myths of Cloud adoption

By Guillaume Ruette

Cloud is a reality of today’s world. Many organisations have already begun their Cloud adoption journey, however, after successfully introducing Cloud services into their portfolio, organisations may struggle to continue their adoption journey.

Three persistent, recurring myths typically complicate the onward adoption journey of Cloud technology, especially after rapid introduction. Because the uncomfortable truth is that the shift to Cloud often isn’t a technology challenge, but one of mindset and thinking. To achieve success at scale, leaders need to confront these myths head on – setting them straight, ensuring they don’t become a distraction, and focusing on value.

Myth #1: Cloud is just a technical transformation

The most frequent myth we encounter in our work on Cloud adoption and rollout programmes is that Cloud is a purely technical transformation in the IT domain. It’s a view that remains as contagious as it is dangerous. Such a siloed approach will silo value. While it is possible to use Cloud in the same way as legacy services, organisations that adopt this approach find the biggest benefits remain out-of-reach.

We have seen this first-hand on many occasions, including at a large organisation that had decided to run its Cloud adoption programme as a migration exercise rather than an opportunity to holistically transform. By ignoring the transformational opportunities, the organisation found itself moving increasingly slowly towards Cloud adoption. Existing ways of working did not translate to the agility of Cloud. The client turned to us. We supported the team by taking the adoption programme through a foundational Cloud learning process, with a focus on showing the direct link between organisational agility and effective realisation of value through Cloud. We followed this up with a series of agile-based activities designed to bed in new ways of working, demonstrably delivering change, and building confidence in the approach.

The truth is that Cloud adoption can never just be plugged in and switched on. It calls for broad, cultural change, realignment of teams and roles, upskilling and increased training, all the way through to new agile working models. Cloud requires a new way of thinking about products and production, where small, cross-functional teams produce micro-service delivery capabilities that can be plugged together to deliver greater value and faster time-to-market. This requires a transformation comparable to – if not greater than – the technical effort.

To combat the biggest obstacle you are likely to face in this transformation, Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt (FUD), you will also need to double down on bringing the whole organisation along on the Cloud adoption journey. A clear vision from leadership sets the scene, and enables a co-ordinated programme of education, communications, and engagement plans and training across all areas, including (but not limited to) engineering/product teams, finance, information security, commercial, and legal.

Myth #2: Moving to the Cloud is too expensive

The next-most common myth, and an easy line of attack for sceptics, is that Cloud is unaffordable, and that expenditure will outweigh any savings. The reality is that this is true – but only if your plan is to pick up your existing on-premise estate and move it to the Cloud. If, instead, you adopt Cloud and the ways of working that it enables, then you start turning cost into opportunity.

We worked with a large public sector client to help them reduce their Cloud spend through a strategically managed approach to Cloud architecture and consumption. Instead of simply replicating their estate on a like-for-like basis, we helped them to understand where the opportunities lay within their portfolio to re-imagine solutions in a Cloud-native way and reduce the dependency on a 24/7 “always-on” virtual server estate. We also developed a simple to use dashboard surfacing insights on their Cloud usage along with opportunities to achieve further savings - all of which helped deliver savings of more than 40 percent per year.

Cloud can therefore be seen to change the potential of investment by fuelling the agile transformation of organisations and modernising IT. Redefining this ‘value’ in the context of your organisation and goals can lead toward new, more appropriate measures of return-on-investment, including faster product delivery times, enhanced innovation, and improved customer satisfaction. In the long term, Cloud enables you to do more, faster. Cloud also enables the ‘rightsizing’ of infrastructure and facilities by switching off resources that are not in use, supporting operational efficiency. So, Cloud can save on costs – but it requires patience and commitment.

Myth #3: Existing IT Service Management functions can cope with Cloud

While myths one and two are a common trope of Cloud sceptics, the last myth to debunk typically comes from Cloud enthusiasts possessed of the conviction that Cloud can be integrated with incumbent IT Service Management (ITSM) functions. While this may be technically possible, and potentially less costly in the immediate short-term, it’s also self-limiting – and damaging to any aspiration to scale Cloud adoption more widely.

For instance, existing ITSM functions are less likely to be able to keep pace with Cloud’s ability to provision, consume, and discard resources in a matter of seconds. Whether it’s a user manually raising a ticket to notify a new service request, or a Service Manager picking up a request and starting the assessment process, backlogs pile up and service quality will likely nosedive.

This was the position a large travel company found themselves in after deciding to bring Cloud into their organisation. They had successfully pulled together cross-functional teams, with Cloud skills and experience, to deliver new capability, but decided to keep with their existing IT Service Management approach, including a centralised support team and manually processed ticketing platform. This resulted in severe backlogs and an eventual shutdown of all new Cloud development. Existing ITSM teams did not have the experience needed to support Cloud operations, and tooling was constrained through a combination of a lack of connectivity, and reliance on manual processing.

Our solution to these issues included a new ITSM approach based on automation and context-appropriate expertise to bring out the best of Cloud. For example, a federated approach to Configuration Management Database (CMDB) administration to track existing states in the legacy system alongside a Cloud-focused approach for Cloud states, drawing reports from both datasets as needed. This provided the agility for services to be installed, iterated on, and decommissioned at pace while ensuring ITSM functions delivered high quality services efficiently and in a manner that enhanced user experience.

Cloud adoption brings tremendous value opportunities. Acknowledging and defining an appropriate strategy to manage each of the above myths, will help improve the chances of your organisation successfully driving value from Cloud and of scaling Cloud adoption more broadly to deliver positive benefits and change across the whole organisation.

About the authors

Guillaume Ruette PA cloud strategy expert

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