If you’ve run into unanticipated problems, challenges, setbacks, even disillusionment with Cloud, you are not alone.
According to Gartner research director Michael Warrilow, Australian businesses have been too enthusiastic about Cloud. However, though Warrilow makes some good points, and though we don’t advocate that the Cloud is always the best solution for everything (and we’ll tell you when it’s not), we say enthusiasm is great! What we add is that enthusiasm needs to be tempered with pragmatism. In fact, it needs to be maintained through a new phase.
Across the country, there are Cloud programs that could do with some fine-tuning. There’s no shame in coming to the conclusion that your Cloud program needs some work; that the initial decisions made may not have been the best nor have all the results been as expected. Now is the opportunity to acknowledge lessons learnt, identify gaps where you’re not quite sure what went wrong or what to do and focus on getting back on track. There’s always a way!
Common challenges that [should] lead organisations to reassess their Cloud
Bill shock is the most common, but the real challenge is figuring out what to do about it. Cloud runs differently to on-premises infrastructure and requires a different consumption model. Even when companies figure out their cloud consumption needs to reflect actual business usage, rather than leaving things running non-stop, they then have to work out which applications to shut down, when and how to manage it all. An automated process designed to reduce cloud costs is the way to go.
Scalability is one of the key advantages of Cloud. You need to make sure your provider can meet the peak demands of your business. The trick is to ensure your configuration scales down as well as up and remains secure at all levels. It goes without saying; your Cloud should cater for security concerns, such as DDoS attacks. If it can’t, you’ll need to revise your architecture or even disengage from your current provider. It’s always prudent to have a tested exit strategy at-the-ready just in case.
It’s fair to say the Opex vs Capex model has caught some companies short. Since Cloud is an Opex model, it appears in a different part of your balance sheet and may thus impact bottom line analysis that ignores capital investments. If IT is a small part of your operating costs, it’s a small impact. If IT is a large chunk, and if your company relies on off-balance sheet items to bolster share prices, the Opex impact can be an issue. It will have a visible impact on how the market reads the company’s performance. One of our clients decided to not go to Cloud for this very reason – even though the IT benefits would have been considerable.
Maybe you want to do more with Cloud. You have dealt with challenges. You have realised some success and reached a point where you and your stakeholders trust having your business and information in the Cloud. And now you need to support growth expectations and opportunities, add a new app, support a new team or absorb an acquisition. You are ready to expand your Cloud program because you are comfortable in the Cloud. The important thing to remember here is not to be so enthusiastic that you forge ahead without sufficient assessment, objective setting and planning. If you are on track, ensure you stay on track. With new Cloud features appearing almost daily, you may need to revisit your strategy more often than expected.
While we’re on about planning, what if you’ve realised your company doesn’t have a cohesive cloud strategy – at least not one to which everyone is sticking? If Cloud services are being used by various departments, teams, individuals or even on a temporary project basis and are not being centrally managed, simply put: that needs to change. There can be no governance when there is no cohesion and consistency.
And you need to think about the impact on your people. For example, in the cloud, you no longer have the deep access you had with on-premises solutions. You can’t just go in and tweak things, you can’t ‘touch the tin’ and that can feel like a loss of control. There may be rationale to bring things back on prem, but for the most part you need to switch your focus to modifying how you use Cloud, rather than trying to get back maintenance control.
Regardless of your situation, rest assured there are many others in a similar spot and your next step is the same. You need to go back to your original business case for the Cloud and adjust for unintended consequences and / or new opportunities. Do you stay put, dive in further (but with reinvigorated focus and purpose), implement more of a hybrid solution or get out?