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Why are big companies still struggling to adopt Cloud?

An article that appeared on Fortune.com grabbed my attention recently – “Big Companies Want to Move to the Cloud But Still Have No Idea How”.

I admit, articles are written with headline-grabbing titles to draw readers, but the reality is that we do actually see this with our customers on a regular basis. Despite the massive growth and awareness of Cloud, a lot of companies are still struggling to make it work for their businesses.

So if Cloud has so much promise for business, why is there still a struggle in adoption?

I’m going to propose two observations from the numerous interactions I have with our customers senior stakeholders, where some struggle to start adopting Cloud.

The first observation is that they’re not doing enough planning prior to embarking on adopting Cloud. This usually stems from a failure to do due diligence on the application portfolio within their business. We’ve seen some customers move their first workload, such as their critical business systems, to a Public Cloud provider and suffering the consequences in the event of an outage. They start with critical systems, and because they fail to plan, they don’t consider critical elements such as availability and security. Just because you have the ability to distribute data and applications across different Public Cloud providers or data centre locations doesn’t mean that’s a great idea for your business. We see customers absolve the responsibility for availability to their Cloud provider and rely on them for their uptime. They transition their applications to the Cloud without a resilience plan. They are under the mistaken assumption that large vendor Public Cloud services don’t fail.

The second observation is that companies do a great job of their planning, but then hesitate too long before transitioning. If you’ve done the work in planning and understand your application portfolio, get after those early high value transition opportunities to demonstrate business value. Once you have done your due diligence, move your applications, unlock the benefits and then look at advanced opportunities to unlock further business value. It’s also very important to persist with your transition. Migration fatigue is a real challenge within organisations, but there must be commitment to push through this and ensure that the original plans are followed.

These two observations, based on real world customer scenarios, may seem disconnected, however I urge you to read the original article to understand my perspective. As always though, the reality is a little more complicated than these two views initially make out.

In our experience and long history with Cloud strategies and implementation, we have recently started to see organisations shift into one of three broad descriptions when it comes to Cloud:

  1. The first organisation profile is those that still haven’t made a proper commitment to Cloud. They are not sure how best to get started or establish the right foundations, but know they need to do something now.
  2. The second organisation profile is those that have made some initial investments in Cloud, but their needs are a little more complicated. While they may have started their Cloud adoption journey, they’re not sure how best to proceed to take advantage of all the options Cloud can offer. They need to understand and explore their options.
  3. The third organisation profile is those that are quite advanced in their use of Cloud. They may have moved a significant portion of their application and service portfolio but they now need to look at how to optimise and refine their approach towards Hybrid Cloud and/or IT as a Service. This could be driven by new business challenges, security issues, infrastructure management approaches etc., or it could be because they still aren’t getting the expected benefits from Cloud. These issues may event drive the organisation to consider making  a shift in specific applications or workloads back to on-premises.

When you look closely at these three organisation profiles and their underlying challenges, you can begin to see how the opposing points of view from the Fortune article start to make sense. Different groups at different stages of their Cloud pathway will have different reasons for their apparent “…. Still Have No Idea How” moments.

  • Those in the first group clearly belong in the “lack of planning” camp. I would caution though that if you’ve done the planning, you do need to get on with it and make the move. It’s our experience that you are best to start with lower risk, proven applications such as Office 365, before looking at more business-critical applications, such as ERP.
  • The second group may have moved a little too quickly, or not done enough planning. This may have resulted in some unexpected challenges, failures or other set-backs and they’re now not sure how to best address them. The business may also be losing faith in the move due to business impact on these unexpected challenges.
  • The third group may be a combination of the two scenarios, but perhaps aren’t spending enough time on the optimisation step – measuring, learning and adjusting.

Ultimately though, it doesn’t really matter which group your organisation finds itself in, there are clear pathways that can be followed with the help of an experienced partner such as Data#3.

According to research by McKinsey, the key to success for all groups actually lies outside of the technology choices. In their view, “..investment in organisational capabilities—rather than technology choices—is what truly sets [Cloud] leaders apart.”

Which brings us back to the original article. It’s important to plan. Get a handle on the organisational capabilities and application/workload portfolio and build an application or service centric plan for transition. Identify optimisation opportunities based on the value of the data the application stores to unlock business value. The mechanics of shifting applications or services to Cloud isn’t the main game, and is only a short point in time exercise. Investing time to optimise is where the value is unlocked. By choosing the option that aligns to your current situation as I outlined above, you’ll be on the right path.

If you want more information on how you can prepare for your cloud transition, download our recent white paper “Rescuing Hybrid Cloud from disillusionment”.

Tags: Cloud, Cloud Solutions, Your Cloud. Your Way.

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