If you’re wondering about how to get to the Public Cloud, we can help. The Eplexity team has a “Eclectic” background of hands on AWS project experience with various customers across the Globe. The projects vary from Independent Software Vendors, Credit Unions, Call Centers and IOT companies. We started our Amazon Web Service journey in 2013 as an Amazon Partner. Since then we have learned by doing, on a per project basis with our team and achieved AWS Premier Partner status.
We are an AWS DevOps and Migration Certified Partner and manage workloads for hundreds of companies through our cloud services platform, CXOS. We work with your team to assess your cloud readiness through a variety of tools. We can conduct a total cost of ownership comparison looking at the cost of your current environment versus running it in AWS. We can provide you with licensing options you may not be aware of by migrating to AWS. And if you already have workloads in AWS, we can conduct a Well Architected Review to see where you may be able to optimize your workloads to achieve further savings.
7 Essentials for a Successful Cloud-First Transformation
These critical stages will get your whole business safely into the cloud. They aren’t necessarily a linear process. How you structure your cloud journey is up to you – but you should certainly evaluate every one of these stages as you progress on your journey.
1- Executive Buy-In
For any business that’s currently running its own data center(s), going Cloud-First is by definition a transformation project. And successful transformation projects are always driven by a senior executive.
- The CEO may be concerned about staying ahead of competitors.
- The CIO may be feeling pressure to deliver new services faster and more efficiently.
- The CFO may be fretting about cash flow and looking for ways to save money.
- The CMO may be itching to respond faster to market changes, experiment with new approaches or make smarter use of analytics.
- The CISO may be exercised by the need for more visibility, audit ability and control.
So how do you get senior execs on board? And do you have to get support from all of them? Experience dictates that you get them on board by appealing to their own priorities. Which business pain points are they most concerned about – and how can cloud solve them?
If you can get buy in from all of these people, great. But if you can demonstrate even to one of them that making the journey to cloud will deliver the benefits they’re seeking, you’ll have a powerful sponsor. They’ll be able to evangelize for you, and keep the whole business focused on why we’re moving to cloud and what we’ll be able
to do when we get there.
2- Aligning IT Staff
On the journey to cloud, you don’t just need exec buy-in. You need your whole IT team on board – committed to achieving the vision, and prepared to work in completely new ways.
All evidence suggests that most techies love it. And what’s not to love – cloud is a chance to learn new skills, play around with new ideas, test stuff out to see how it works, and actually make a difference to the organization. Most people will snap your hand off to get at some of that. But you may find that some of your people resist change. And any resistance will at best hinder your progress, and at worst derail the whole venture.
So here’s what you do:
Be very firm and clear about the certainty of the cloud journey: it’s non-negotiable, there’s senior exec sponsorship, and the results will be transformative for the business. You need everyone on board with you, engaged and excited for what the future will bring.
Of course there are bound to be worries – your data centre team will soon find themselves operating in a hybrid world, with progressively less on-premises infrastructure to manage, and an abundance of new and innovative cloud technologies to master. So it’s essential that you articulate exactly how their role will change, over what timescale, and what opportunities they will have in the Cloud-First world.
When everyone’s on board, you need to think seriously about skills. Great cloud skills are scarce, and in huge demand. So the best approach is to up-skill your whole team as fast as you can – maybe using an external provider or partner for some rapid knowledge transfer.
Bear in mind that it’s not just hard skills like learning the best way to move applications to the cloud (lift and shift, or re-architect?), or how to use emerging cloud-based services. A cloud environment is one of continuous delivery, integration and testing – which means your developers will need to work in concert with your operations people in a DevOps culture. So for best results, build both tech skills and work style skills into your training plan.
3- Get Some Quick Wins
If you’re committed to Cloud-First, it means that, at some point down the road, you’re going to be moving some or all of your gnarlier systems to the cloud. Before you start asking people to work on the tough stuff, you need to prove that the journey is worth it: that there are fantastic, tangible benefits from going to the cloud. And to keep everyone engaged, it’s best to do this as quickly as possible.
The most effective way to do that is to get some quick wins. Identify one or more applications or workloads that can move quickly and easily to the cloud, and which will deliver very visible benefits to the organization. But which ones? Your existing apps are likely to have integrations with other systems that will complicate and slow down the move to cloud. So it’s best to start with a net-new application, one that will deliver immediate and tangible benefits.
Look for apps that the business needs to meet its goals, but which have previously been deemed impractical to implement on-premises – perhaps because they’re resource-hungry, or will only be needed occasionally, or would have meant a high-end hardware investment.
The need could come from anywhere in the organization, but for best results, look for something that’s personally important to your executive sponsor. What kind of app would accelerate innovation in the business, for example? What analytical functionality does Marketing need in order to go real-time?
By identifying something really valuable to the business, setting it up really quickly in the cloud and starting to deliver immediate benefits, you’ll show the organization the real, tangible value of Cloud-First operation. Plus, your team will have gained valuable experience and skills in setting up and managing high-profile business apps in a cloud environment.
4. Engage Eplexity & Partners
Even as you’re learning and building experience, you can get some quick and valuable wins under your belt (see Essential #3). But as you start to turn your attention to your business-critical and/or legacy apps, the challenge starts to ramp up. This is where you should consider enlisting the help of people who build, manage, transition or integrate critical IT systems in the cloud every day.
Your cloud infrastructure or platform provider should be able to offer guidance and training. If that’s AWS, we have a wealth of scheduled and bespoke training courses that can help, and Eplexity can provide consultancy and onsite assistance with your cloud transition. We also offer a free Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF), based on real-world best practice, to help you plan your cloud journey. If you’re running packaged applications from independent software vendors (ISVs), those vendors should be able to help, too. Try mapping the vendors whose applications you use against the accredited partners list maintained by your cloud provider. Again, if you go with Eplexity, we can help you identify ISVs who’ve ported their applications to our cloud platforms.
A word of caution: if you bring ISV partners and Eplexity in to help with your cloud journey, it’s essential to have your team work alongside them, and fully absorb the skills, knowledge and practices that come with a Cloud-First transition. Click here for more details on our AWS Accelerator program.
5. Establish a Centre of Cloud Excellence
We’ve already stressed a couple of times that once you’re operating in a Cloud-First world, a DevOps style of operation becomes the norm. In a DevOps scenario, your development and operations teams work closely together to build, test and deliver continuous iterations of your technology assets.
In this world, it’s not uncommon to make and implement 4-5 updates to a given app in a given day. It’s a far cry from the days when dev teams would work on an app until it was ‘finished’, then pass it over the wall to the operations team to implement and manage.
I n the world of DevOps, you’ll need to implement and instill a whole new set of working processes and a whole new working culture. And that’s why it’s critical to establish a Centre of Cloud Excellence as early as possible in your Cloud-First journey.
Your Centre of Cloud Excellence is a formal DevOps team whose job it is to establish and promote best practice throughout the IT function. It will probably include people from both development and operations, and you may want to include some IT security folk as well.
It may or may not be the team who worked on your first enterprise cloud projects. And you may or may not call it a Centre of Cloud Excellence. But one thing’s for sure: this is where your journey to Cloud-First really accelerates – and this team is what keeps it on track.
So what should the team do? Its aim is to establish a culture of DevOps working, so it will do everything it can to define, communicate and oversee that culture. Click here for more details on our AWS Accelerator program.
An important thing to note: the Centre of Cloud Excellence is essential, but it shouldn’t be a permanent fixture. The team should aim to put itself out of a job as soon as possible – by making DevOps second nature throughout the IT function. Once this is complete, the team can return to their day job and Cloud-First becomes business as usual.
Resources to Help You Establish a Centre of Cloud Excellence AWS CloudWatch , AWS CloudTrail, AWS OpsWorks, AWS CodeDeploy. Eplexity can setup specific workshops around these topics or as a part of a Project engagement or AWS Accelerator Engagement we can review on how to help with these resources.
6. A Hybrid Adoption Framework
While many organizations have ambitions to move 100% to the cloud, the realities of enterprise IT mean it’s likely to be a long journey. Inevitably, there will be a period – which could last for some years – where you’re operating a hybrid model: with some apps and workloads in the cloud, and others staying on-premises. The job of the CIO will be to continuously prioritize and re-evaluate what to move and what to keep, especially as the pace of innovation in the cloud opens up new opportunities virtually every day.
During this time, you’ll need to continue to communicate the Cloud-First plan, especially as that plan evolves. You’ll need to keep your data centre team updated on when and how their roles will change, and make sure they get appropriate experience and training to make the most of what cloud has to offer.
Because this dual-mode stage is not going to last forever. If you’re committed to Cloud-First, you’ll need a well thought-out strategy that sees you increasingly moving legacy apps into the cloud – including the big, monolithic, complex legacy applications that are critical to your business.
A small proportion of these legacy apps will never go into the cloud. These are the ones for which there’s a good answer to the basic Cloud-First question: “Why NOT cloud”? It may be that the data is too sensitive, they can’t be re-architected, or there is no viable financial or business advantage from moving them.
But for any application where there is a compelling argument for cloud, you’ll need to set to work – pulling them apart and refactoring them into decoupled components that are better able to benefit from cloud architecture.
This is a huge task and by far the biggest step towards Cloud-First. Getting it right will require close co-operation between cross-functional teams, expertise and skills gained from engagement with partners (see Essential #4), and the guidance of your Centre of Cloud Excellence (see Essential #5).
Getting everyone on board and having a well thought out, well documented and well communicated hybrid strategy will make this transition period much easier to manage and much faster to complete.
7. Reaching a “Cloud-First Standard“
Cloud-First is all about shifting the enterprise IT mindset from “Why cloud?” to “Why not cloud?” In this new world, you need a really convincing argument for keeping something on-premises. And as cloud skills proliferate, DevOps becomes more embedded and cloud providers roll out more and more useful services, there are fewer and fewer arguments for keeping apps, data and workloads on premises. The alternative is just too compelling:
- Much, much lower IT costs
- The agility to move faster than competitors
- An on-demand environment for experimentation and innovation
- Near-infinite resources to support game-changing initiatives
This is where every organization wants to be – and when Cloud-First becomes your standard, you’re there. You can move fast, deploy new services globally, improve your security posture, free up real estate, innovate on the fly, and respond to changes in an instant.
And in a market where so many organizations are held back by the many constraints of aging on-premises systems, that’s a huge advantage. Click here for more details on our AWS Accelerator program.