IT Focus Area: cloud
January 10, 2017
Open Source, Open Mindset: 5 Keys to Continuous Evolution and Revolution
In today’s highly competitive market, you must move quickly to survive.
Slow-moving enterprises that rely on legacy technologies are falling behind their more agile, cloud-focused competitors.
Just think of how cloud-based Uber came out of nowhere and turned the taxi industry upside down – and it doesn’t own a single vehicle. Instead of owning physical equipment, Uber and other app-based start-ups leverage cloud-based technologies to enable transformation.
The Critical Role of IT in Business Transformation
Today’s enterprises must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to keep pace with continuous change, market trends, quickly launched solutions, and new customer demands.
The need for agility puts Information Technology at the front and center of business transformation. IT has the opportunity to drive immense value by brokering services that allow the business to scale on demand.
However, not all IT organizations see these opportunities. They move slowly and end up being perceived as barriers that prevent the business from achieving its goals. As a result, IT becomes optional and, eventually, irrelevant.
Businesses now have choices. With just a few clicks, they can procure and consume technology solutions on their own.
Developers – a relatively new customer segment for IT – also have choices. They can instantly download environments that let them quickly write and test code.
Internal IT no longer has a monopoly. If IT organizations don’t respond to the business’ and developers’ needs in a timely manner, they will be seen as a cost center that cannot be justified. IT must at least transform at the pace of business – preferably faster – to stay ahead in the game.
The best way for IT to transform is by continuously evolving to a cloud-based infrastructure.
How to Get Clear on Your Cloud Needs
Cloud impacts the entire enterprise; so moving to cloud is a business decision, not just an IT decision.
The first question to ask before moving to cloud is, “What business functions matter the most?”
Once you decide which business functions are the most important, you can think about the enabling technology components (e.g. infrastructure, databases, apps, etc.) that will go in cloud.
It’s also important to define what the word “cloud” means to different people within your enterprise. For example, many people think that “cloud” means “public”. It’s vital to get clear on what commonly used terms such as “public” and “private” mean within your enterprise. You’ll likely need to educate others to get everyone on the same page.
Once you define “cloud”, you can come up with criteria for your migration. Your criteria may include:
- Security: In spite of concerns about public cloud being less secure than private cloud, enterprises that follow the right security practices will be secure no matter what type of cloud they use. Likewise, if you don’t have the right security policies and processes, you may not be secure in any type of cloud. Ask yourself, “Are our security standards, processes, and governance in alignment with our risk management strategies?” If the answer is “yes”, you’ll likely be secure in public cloud.
- Compliance: Cloud isn’t right for all data. If you have regulated data, you might not be allowed to put it in cloud. Review your regulations to determine which data is a good candidate for cloud
- Service-level expectations and accountability: The enterprise – not the cloud vendor - is ultimately responsible for its services. Your customers don’t care if your cloud service provider had an outage or was hacked. They care that you didn’t provide reliable or secure services. Factor in your service level and security expectations when you go to cloud.
5 Keys to Cloud Transformation
The cloud isn’t all or nothing. You don’t need to put all of your applications in the cloud on day one.
Think of your cloud migration like moving to a new house. You may start by putting new items in the house and moving your older items over after you’ve sorted them out. From there, your cloud “house” can slowly and steadily evolve.
Here are five keys to a successful cloud transformation:
1. Adopt an open – and open source – mindset.
Transformation doesn’t end when you put a set of components in cloud.
Today’s enterprises face continuous change. To keep pace, you need a continuous innovation engine.
Enterprises that want to innovate can take a cue from open source developers. Open source technology enables continuous innovation, as it is built by a community of developers who are passionate about software development. In an open source community, developers never stop looking for ways to make their software better. They quickly deploy new, innovative features and will hold each other in check through continuous inspection. Their collaborative mindset leads to more effective technologies that are better positioned to evolve with emerging concepts.
An open, collaborative eco-system is lighter fluid for innovation!
2. Revitalize your workforce.
Cloud isn’t just about hardware and software, but about having the right people.
It’s vital to hire employees with a new style of thinking and to train those who have more traditional mindsets. Today’s IT pros need the soft skills of collaborating to solve business problems, along with the ability to innovate with new technologies.
Many IT pros worry that their jobs are at risk due to migration to the cloud. However, you don’t need to dispense with your long-term employees when you use cloud vendors or bring in millennials. You still need people who can manage your legacy technologies, as some applications may perform better in legacy environments. But you may need to encourage them to think differently and use new approaches as you bring in cloud technologies.
3. Establish cloud governance.
Cloud governance is about defining and refining your policies and informational standards, as well as determining how to enforce them. How will you keep your data protected as it moves between data centers and clouds?
Cloud governance doesn’t just apply to your on-premises data. To ensure that your data remains compliant and secure, you must extend your governance to all of your third-party providers.
It’s important to put the appropriate governance mechanisms in place before you migrate components to cloud. Planning your governance in advance will simplify your cloud management.
4. Know that it’s OK to fail.
It used to take one and a half years to build and deploy a new app. But times have changed. Businesses are now under pressure to push out services faster and deploy an app in one and a half weeks. Businesses with start-up mindsets will push out apps in just one day.
Providing services this quickly requires you to experiment and take risks. Only by failing can you fine-tune your processes and improve your services. You must adopt a “fail fast” culture that allows you to learn from your mistakes, innovate, and drive business value.
5. Determine how the Internet of Things will impact your data.
When you go to cloud, you must think about your data. This includes data stored in your systems of record. It also includes data that is continuously churned out by your systems of engagement, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices.
IoT creates massive volumes of data. While IoT data can provide you with important business insights, it’s useless unless you can run analytics and take action on it.
To see value from IoT, you need an elastic environment that accommodates large volumes of data, processes it, and analyzes it in a timely fashion. A cloud environment that scales to address these fluctuating volumes allows you to pull both historical and up-to-the-minute data, so you can make decisions that impact the future of your business.
A successful cloud migration requires a cultural shift in the enterprise. The first thing you must do is embrace an open source mindset that rewards collaboration and innovation. From there, you can focus on the technology tools that will help you achieve your business goals.