Single Blog

Challenges of moving to Cloud… and when last did you send a Fax?

Challenges of moving to Cloud… and when last did you send a Fax?

 I’ve helped many South African businesses change from ‘building’ IT to ‘consuming’ IT by leveraging cloud, and have only seen them thrive as a result. It is even more important to note that nobody has ever moved back to legacy on-site systems after starting their cloud journey, they just couldn’t imagine doing things the old way. To put it in perspective it would be like asking you to give up your mobile phone and go back to faxing… now when last did you have a good fax?

This fact was only hammered home last week when I requested a new virtual server from a local so-called ‘cloud’ provider (one of the better ones mind you) and it took almost two weeks for them to provision the server for me… two weeks! It may be that I’ve become accustomed to getting what I need in minutes. The fact is that the agility, flexibility and cost gap between those who have adopted true cloud technologies and those who haven’t is becoming more and more apparent as we roll towards 2018.

So whats causing this?

Some of you have been forcibly held back, grappling with one or more issues such as vendor lock-in, skills shortages, getting shit advise from IT vendors promoting legacy solutions (and marketing their crap as ‘cloud’), misconceptions on security, or you may have a CIOs with no clue on how to implement a cloud strategy within your businesses – They know who they are, you’re the ones who just signed off on that new VMware cluster… but we’ll see you again in 5 years from now when you have sweated that asset and are even further behind (or more likely retired or fired).

“The cloud debate is over—businesses are now moving a material portion of IT workloads to cloud environments. The impact will be considerable, for consumers and vendors of technology alike.” More food for thought see Forbes.

The biggest hindrance to cloud adoption is obviously ‘change’ but it’s important to note that this change is inevitable, doing things the old way will only leave you further way from leveraging all those lekker tools everyone is talking about (e.g. IoT, Machine Learning, Big Data, …etc). As I have said many times before, you need to think of your move to the cloud as a journey and not a destination. I have attempted to group these ‘change’ areas into three umbrella groups, some of which are easy to justify, prepare for and to execute, but one of them may be a bit more tricky to address.

  1. Infrastructure: Probably the easiest area to justify your move to the cloud is with your infrastructure. This is easily demonstrated with a simple cost analysis to highlight the potential savings that could in turn be leveraged to modernise in other areas of IT delivery (this is without even considering the long-term advantages). I’m not sure why I keep getting surprised at the astonished reaction of CIOs and IT Managers when I do a 5 year ROI calculation, it is apparent that most of us don’t really have a handle on the true cost of running our own IT operations; things like labour, physical backup tapes, licenses, tape storage, networking, electricity, etc are often not included. In the long run renting a virtual machine hosted on cloud infrastructure delivers cloud economies of scale as you don’t need to invest in infrastructure that must not only cater for current requirements, but also needs to cater for future requirements too. It has also become extremely easy to move servers to the cloud with a wide range of lift-and-shift tools available (some of the more agile vendors are even offering free migrations to cloud). It is easy to justify the main benefits of costs saving, increasing platform availability, more agility, greater scalability, bla bla bla! You’ve probably read all the articles regarding this topic so I won’t delve any further, but just remember that if you are the point where your infrastructure is reaching end-of-life you are in the perfect position to start on this journey.
  2. Software and Applications: Some applications can migrate quickly and easily to cloud workloads while some of your other apps may require some re-coding. It is important to note that the age of the app will play a significant role in this regard as newer apps are built for, or can be easily configured for cloud and will probably be first in line to move. Others may not be able to make the trip due to constraints, including previous custom software configuration mapped to specific hardware platforms. A proper environment ROI calculation will give you the numbers you will have to play with if you move the workload.
  3. Your IT Staff: This is often the most sensitive considerations in terms of moving IT infrastructure from legacy to cloud. I’m pretty sure that very few CIO or IT Managers want to look their staff in the eyes and tell them they are no longer relevant and have to go. This is where we have to remember that change is ultimately a win-win situation for you and your employees. There’s no denying that almost all IT roles will eventually HAVE TO EVOLVE! To be sure, a move to the cloud affects all roles; from help desk managers, server support teams, application support teams to network and security teams. While change sounds a bit stressful, working within a cloud environment to deliver improved security, agility and cost savings to your organisation may actually be welcome for IT professionals long ready for an injection of new energy and challenge in their careers. If you are not yet ready to jump now (held back by those items listed above) you should encourage your staff to start investigating and prepare what’s in store for them and your business.

In conclusion, the technical and cost challenges of your journey to the cloud are relatively easy to address and justify, often just by taking a looking at the numbers and what you can do with the cost and time savings. I can’t lie and say to you that you may or may not have to reduce the amount of staff required to take care of your environment but one thing is for sure – your staff will need to change at some point or you risk making them, and in turn you, irrelevant. Most companies are in a perpetual fire-fighting scenario that prohibits staff from undertaking truly importation transformational activities to ensure you are an agile business end-to-end. CIOs must encourage this change… unless you like faxing things up!

Please tell me when last you can remember sending a fax, I would love to have your feedback