In casual conversation, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ve had some experience with that” when discussing something we’ve tried, but perhaps don’t feel completely adept in discussing or doing. Lately, however, I’ve been hearing a lot more clients discuss how they have “dabbled” in the cloud. I often ask them, “What does dabbling in the cloud mean for you?”
Within every organization, experimenting in the cloud can mean a lot of things. I typically hear that, at a minimum, they have implemented a test environment for new apps, and/or shadow IT initiatives have begun taking hold across the organization.
Last year, I was chatting with an enterprise IT leader who was in the process of moving beyond this phase of adoption. They explained that much of the impetus for taking the cloud plunge was “competitive pressure.” Another common catalyst I hear about from the enterprise is a new business initiative that prompts the organization to look for cloud-first opportunities across lines of business, as well as specific applications and workloads.
Fast forward a year, and you’ll typically find the enterprise cloud initiative stuck in reactionary mode. Instead of servers and storage that the organization can understand, analyze and report on, they are working with an amalgam of new services and racing to build solutions to best meet user needs.
At that point, it’s time to forget dabbling in cloud, because you are officially drowning in it.
Siloed teams are simultaneously adopting a variety of new management tools for configuration, performance, event log and security management, leaving the company with even more complexity and disparate data streams to try and consolidate.
This is today’s reality for many, but it certainly doesn’t have to be this way.
First and foremost, it is critical for an organization to be able to articulate their cloud “elevator pitch” or 30-second synopsis of why they want to move to the cloud, how they will do it and, most importantly, what value-add cloud has for their business.
In a recent study sponsored by CloudHealth Technologies and CTP, it was clear that respondents excelling in cloud were better able to articulate cloud’s value, and therefore, see results. Those at the head of the pack saw cloud computing fueling more revenue growth for their organization. In fact, “cloud leaders” report a 51% increase in top-line revenue stemming from cloud initiatives. Similarly, compared with respondents in the bottom tier, cloud leaders were twice as likely to see a competitive advantage from cloud.
Laggards struggled to articulate specific business metrics for measuring the success of their cloud program. In particular, attempts to describe the value cloud delivers focused myopically on total cost of ownership (TCO) rather than return on investment (ROI), which has a much greater impact on success. For example, looking at how much money you saved by purchasing AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) would yield a hard dollar amount. But also consider how much more efficient the team is, now that they aren’t bogged down with managing the full RI lifecycle and performing hours of manual calculation. Were you able to roll out a new product feature more quickly as a result? Shorten time to market or innovate faster? That’s ROI.
From cloud “rookie” to aficionado
The absolute first step to transitioning from a cloud “rookie” to aficionado is refocusing your perception of cloud and being able to articulate just what it is your organization can reap from the cloud. (This goes back to the elevator pitch I just mentioned).
Once you complete this step (and please, don’t skip ahead), you’re ready to think about what’s next, including:
- Designate responsibility and empower ownership. Assign a “cloud steward” that has intimate knowledge of the technology at play and the business as a whole. In the aforementioned study focus groups, almost all the leaders had either an individual or a team responsible for defining and enforcing cloud best practices.
- Benchmark and continuously optimize. Cloud leaders set metrics and track progress against them for continuous optimization. They showed an ongoing commitment to combating unchecked spend, hyper growth and siloes.
- Think beyond cost. Cost should always remain a factor, but also be sure to reflect on cloud’s impact on performance, utilization and security. Just because it doesn’t come with a dollar sign, doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to “save” in different ways.
- Centralize governance. Managing large-scale cloud environments takes discipline, time and expertise. Rarely are all three found in abundance. A sound governance strategy eases the resource burden by allowing you to set and automate policies that simplify operations and speed decision making.
- Automate, automate, automate. Automation and governance go hand in hand: implementing policies, automating infrastructure schedules, rightsizing workloads, and managing reservations can simplify day-to-day management, ensure the optimal operation of cloud infrastructure, reduce manual labor, and eliminate the potential for human error in critical business operations.
Simply put: Cloud is complex. But with a focused vision and the ability to articulate how cloud will add value to your organization, you can steer clear of a messy, mad dash to cloud and put your organization on the path to enduring success.
Melodye Mueller is vice president of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CloudHealth Technologies. Melodye oversees global marketing and communications functions for the company, while supporting the success of its customers and partners. With more than 20 years of experience leading marketing organizations in the cloud computing, managed services and telecommunications industries, Melodye is known for developing strong, customer-centric programs, building teams, and establishing market strategies that result in profitable growth. Prior to CloudHealth Technologies, she was Vice President of Marketing at NaviSite and VP of Sales and Marketing at Whaleback Systems. She has also held senior sales and marketing leadership positions at Lucent/AT&T and Agfa.