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Why do I need to change my cloud strategy?

When it comes to the cloud not one size fits all. Vicky Glynn, product manager at Brightsolid, discusses the importance of knowing the difference between need and nice to have, as well as what to consider when switching up your strategy.

The fundamental pace of change as a result of the fourth industrial revolution and reform to skills and has accelerated in the past two years, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 ‘Future of Jobs Report’. 

Cloud technology has been a significant driver of such change in the IT world, and that is not likely to change soon. 

Oracle’s Mark Hurd has predicted that by 2025 80% of IT spend will be on cloud products and not traditional IT, somewhat staggering if we consider that 2018 predicted spending on IT was estimated at $3.74 trillion.

If we also consider that in the last year alone, AWS had over 1,900 product releases and are likely to top that in 2019, and with such innovation available, organisations need to ensure that their IT strategies are also regularly reviewed.

So, it’s refreshing to see the UK Government, ahuge champion of the cloud and its benefits, recently announcing that its cloud first approach – a strategy that it has followed since 2013 – is under review.

This move demonstrates the cultural evolution that the government has gone through as they have adopted new technology, no longer is it seen as a failure to adapt a strategy, but instead a move toward agility and away from monolithic government decision making of old.

So, how can root level public sector, who feel like they are in cloud limbo, question if they are getting what they really need from their existing strategy, and use this as a way of resetting focus, and what can other organisations learn?

Understand your deployment habits

Before changing, it’s vital to ensure that business strategy and outcomes are leading technology changes and not vice versa.

Organisations need to be crystal clear on what outcomes they need their cloud technology to deliver rather than retrofitting their organisation into the capabilities that cloud providers can offer.

And certainly, from my conversations with both customers and peers, I regularly see that many organisations are finding that hybrid strategies prove more successful as they allow them to tailor solutions to deliver the many competing outcomes needed across wide ranging transformation projects.

The prime reason for the government’s public shift from moving from a public cloud-first approach to re-evaluating the strategy has come as a result of the growing appetite for hybrid IT deployments in the public sector.

Technology and organisations’ understanding of the cloud has evolved since the government defined its cloud strategy seven years ago, and it is this experience and insight into how technology is used internally which brings organisations of all shapes and sizes to question if their current cloud strategy is right for them.

As these development habits are considered, the IT department must work closely with senior leadership to ensure that their recommendations match the direction of the company.

IT to fit your culture

But company habits can only take into consideration part of the story for addressing your cloud strategy.

Gartner asked IT leaders that attended the 2017 Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit,‘What is the biggest obstacle to adopting cloud?’,the answer was clear yet surprising; with people emerging as the greatest barrier, as opposed to process, technology or information.

Over4 4% experienced cultural issues of some sort: resistance to change, absence of trust, lack of motivation, cloud confusion, and more.

Over 21% experienced people and skills related issues.This evidence creates a challenge. It highlights thatthere is not enough focus on the cultural and people element of cloud. It is clearly an area which organisations must consider as they are reviewing their cloud strategy – and must address should it change.

The culture of an organisation is something that can change as a company grows, brings in new people or as a result of morale issues. As such, as culture evolves, it makes sense to consider impact on cloud strategy.  

Cloud computing is often considered a technical and process-based change, as opposed to a culture change; but they are intertwined.To successfully address the cultural and people issues, IT leaders need to help the rest of the organisation understand why the migration is taking place and how it will benefit the organisation.

They need to explain the vision, including the justification and rationale behind any cloud-based transformation.

To overcome cultural barriers, it’s important that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding why this change is being instituted, and exactly what the transformation or initiative is before they need to know how to undertake it.

Redefining your cloud future

After addressing the present, it’s as important to consider the future. Not only in terms of business plans, but also considering how technology and your needs for it may change down the line too.

From considering how IoT may begin to touch your business through to the deployment of new telephony systems; you don’t want to be changing your cloud strategy every year.

As you revisit your strategy, aspects to consider in looking to the future include:

  • How iterative is your current IT environment? Cloud environments are going to move organisations away from big-bang lengthy IT projects. Therefore, it’s no wonder public sector organisations have routinely fallen victim to criticisms when much vaunted projects have failed after significant investment are embracing the cloud.
  • How strong is your fundamental security? Regardless of the regulatory, compliance or governance issues which might impact you in the future, a strong security foundation based on prevent, detect and respond and restore foundations will be key.
  • Cost can be a significant contributing factor in IT decisions. Cloud often means embracing different cost models – how much are you integrating your finance teams into your strategic rationale?

Making sure that you take these areas into consideration as you review your cloud strategy will stand you in good stead.

Cloud computing success very much depends on strong leadership, communication, and clarity on the benefits to your whole business and people.

However, just as you would demand agility from your cloud platform, an agile approach to your cloud strategy is also sensible.

Regular reviews of your cloud strategy will ensure that the investment is valuable for you not only now, but in the future.

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