Errors in cloud-adoption and transformation planning can lead to hurricanes inside your infrastructure later.
At the core of businesses IT strategies today sits a familiar and fundamental building block: the Cloud. It is predicted that by 2021, over 65% of enterprises in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) will be using multiple cloud services and platforms involving multi- and hybrid-cloud environments.
The Cloud has offered major opportunities to organisations by breaking down traditional boundaries between teams and bringing new agility. However, this also means that companies will need to modernise to truly benefit from cloud adoption. Failure to do, or doing so without deep guidance, may culminate in a storm of unexpected and hugely-expensive proportions.
So, what are some of these challenges and how can businesses prevent or overcome them?
The struggle for talent
To truly benefit from cloud adoption, organisations will need to break away from past practices such as the waterfall software development methodology. The challenge here is the lack of tech talents who possess the skills needed to support such new ways of work. Case in point: Recruitment consultancy Robert Walters found that close to 70% of hiring managers in South-east Asia took at least three months to fill an open tech position.
Recognising this, Asian governments and businesses alike have taken steps to plug the skills gap. The Singapore government, for instance, is offering more financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for employee training. Some companies there have also partnered educational institutions to do their part to help solve the skills gap issue. This is exemplified in the case of the partnership between Alibaba Cloud and Singapore Management University (SMU), whereby they jointly launched a series of courses to upskill more than 1,000 working professionals in Singapore in the areas of emerging technologies such as cloud computing.
Although it is important to close the skills gap, having cloud-certified IT staff does not guarantee success within the cloud. Those IT employees also need to also have strong practical skills (such as troubleshooting cloud issues) or hands-on experience managing the cloud. In addition, they should be knowledgeable and skilled at managing a variety of cloud platforms since enterprises are increasingly using multiple cloud platforms instead of a single cloud. Without these knowledge and skills, enterprises will find it challenging to fully harness the value of multicloud.
Tackling other components of a storm
Besides a talent crunch, the following factors may also cause cloud adoption to introduce complications instead of benefits to an organisation:
- Poor understanding of the cloud consumption model
Businesses that are stuck in their old ways of procuring IT and managing traditional infrastructures might end up with huge unexpected bills when they start adopting the Cloud. Unlike traditional infrastructures where organisations can easily control the usage of resources as they are limited by the available capacity, public clouds do not have similar limitations. The pay-per-use model is a double-edged sword as businesses will have to pay for resources they have consumed even if it was in error, such as forgetting to shut down unused instances.
To prevent bill shock, organisations should begin with the right design principles and frameworks (process and technology) and apply appropriate limits for projects with budget limitations. They should also leverage tools and use cloud cost controls offered by their public cloud service vendors to estimate and limit their costs.
- Not having the right foundation
Many companies underestimate the complexity of cloud and rush their cloud adoptions without considering design and best practices in detail. This may cause an issue later on. When cloud adoption spreads across the organisation and its complexity increases, it will become challenging to manage the IT infrastructure. Moreover, the absence of the right foundation might cause issues when businesses try to integrate existing complex applications and infrastructure with the latest technologies or migrate those apps to the cloud.
OrganiSations can avoid facing such a situation by designing the cloud architecture with appropriate principles and frameworks from the start. They should also deploy the right monitoring tools to gain visibility into and control over their cloud.
- Overlooking security and compliance as they move to the cloud
Although cloud service providers can and will secure their infrastructure, organisations are still responsible for their own end-to-end security. As such, businesses need to ensure that their IT team has a broader understanding of the security risks that the cloud could bring and are equipped with the right capabilities to address those risks. They should also design their cloud architecture with security and compliance in mind, conduct third-party audits, and adopt robust security practices.
- Assuming post-migration management will happen on its own
Many companies assume that once applications are in the cloud, they will take care of themselves. However, this is not the case—apps that migrate to the cloud do not automatically gain self-management capabilities. Organizations, therefore, need an operations team for cloud systems just as they do for on-premises systems.
All these factors, coupled with a lack of confidence in exactly how to adopt the right cloud strategy, can create some real storms.
Engaging a trusted strategic partner
A strategic partner can help companies effectively navigate through the maze of confusing and conflicting cloud platform claims and value propositions. Having such a capability will enable organizations to accelerate the value of the cloud and seize opportunities to become a digital business faster and with less risks.
Take the case of an international insurance company in Singapore, for example. When it decided to launch a customer portal on Azure to improve user experience and customer journey, it decided to do so with an established strategic partner that would work closely with its teams. The consultants promptly gathered project specifications and requirements needed to formulate and provide optimal recommendations and solutions.
Through discussions with its strategic partner, the insurance company also gained a better understanding of the Azure cloud platform and it is exploring more ways to utilize services on Azure to further enhance its services.
All in all, the journey to a multi-cloud environment can be challenging. Organisations, therefore, need the confidence to know they are getting the maximum value from their cloud investments and are minimising risks while accelerating their transformation.
MSPs can help provide the expertise and tools that businesses need to accelerate the value of cloud at every point along their cloud/digital transformation journey while ensuring security and compliance. As such, organisations that leverage MSPs no longer have to fear getting caught in a storm unprepared.