Truly Ready for Cloud?
A few years back, an architect in Germany tried a novel experiment. When his building went up, he insisted that there be no sidewalks or walkways built around it. His reasoning was that people going in and out of the facility will form their own natural pathways, and the eventual sidewalks that would be built should be laid along those lines. Muddy shoes aside, it was an interesting effort to build where people actually want to go, instead of forcing them into someone else’s restrictive pathways.
The same should hold true for designing and preparing the organization for cloud. IT executives and planners need to carefully watch where it is their end-users prefer to go and build accordingly.
But that’s all too often not how things happen. As has been the case over the years with many forms of technology, executives and managers assume that acquiring and dropping cloud into their organizations will automatically lead to greater efficiency and profitability. Technology by itself doesn’t deliver the goods, and, in fact, may even make things worse. As the well-known consultant Mike Hammer famously once said: “When you automate a mess, you get an automated mess.”
It’s important to remember that cloud is just a tool, and will not fix any long-simmering organizational issues. Successful organizations are forward-thinking, are people-centered, open to new ideas, and have strong entrepreneurial cultures. Technology will not deliver these qualities. To succeed with cloud, IT leaders need to first identify the business problem, and how to address it. Only then is technology brought in to support a transformational effort.
Ask the question right up front: Do we really need cloud for this? Don’t rush to cloud just for the sake of having cloud. Many business processes may be running fine with the systems they’re on. That old adage comes into play here: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Identify the problems or opportunities. Not every aspect of the business may necessarily need cloud, but there are likely many areas that could benefit. Where are the pain points? Where are decision makers struggling with outdated systems that are not providing needed insights? Where is data capacity strained to the point that it’s slowing down operations?
Work closely with end-users or customers. Ultimately, end-users need to be enthusiastic about any cloud strategy the organization adopts. Just as many a packaged software solution has ended up as shelfware, or huge investments poured into building interfaces and applications used by only one or two employees, cloud service subscriptions may go to waste.
Embrace “shadow IT.” Many end users may already be using cloud services on their own, using discretionary funds within their departments. Rather than restrict such adoption, seek ways to enhance the experience. Perhaps there may be savings and better sharing of information if such services were moved to a corporate master account, for example. Encourage users to hold meetings and share their success stories with cloud adoption for their jobs.
Chose the right vendor or partner. In many cases, the processes and tools that would best serve an organization’s efforts to build out with cloud have already been built and tested. There’s no point in attempting to re-invent the wheel – a home-grown one at that – when there are solutions already available.
Keep reviewing and continuously improving. As anyone in the IT business knows, version 1.0, and even version 2.0 aren’t the most optimal solutions. There’s always room for improvement. Working closely with end-users to identify their needs and requests should be an ongoing process.
For more thought provoking cloud management insights visit vmware-erdos.com.