Introduction - Moving to Cloud, but with a real Strategy — part 2

David Das Neves
Cloud Computing
November 16, 2021

Introduction - Moving to Cloud, but with a real Strategy — part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our Cloud strategy articles.

This article provides a crash-course on what a good strategy and vision should contain. In the upcoming parts, we will dive into all of those topics in more depth.

Sneak Peek - next article — Overarching IT Architecture & Roadmap Design

Don´t also miss the first part, where I revealed to you how a lousy strategy and lacking vision would very likely directly lead you in a world of pain.

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The chance you are missing

In the last article, we have been mainly explaining what not a proper strategy is. But then — what is a valuable approach?

Moving to the Cloud comes hand in hand with a Digital Transformation. It is a chance for you and your environment to shift to modern technologies, a modern way of working, establish a growth-mindset, and implement a Cultural Change towards DevOps and similar models, including a high-level of Automation. And this all can be used for your business, creating value for your customers.

But -

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The essential resources you need to focus on are your employees. You want to provide value for your employees, which is mainly the job of the CIO, and this is only possible if you have an Overarching Architecture and Roadmap design. (in-depth in the next part)

And surely you also have the viewpoint from your Business, the job of your CTO, to target a customer-centric approach and evaluate added business values or new business areas.

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Unfortunately, I have seen severe issues due to some circumstances. The mentioned transformation is a long-term approach where you will need to go “through a swamp before you are reaching a much higher hill.” (see the following fantastic session from Gregor Hohpe.)

This hike takes probably more than three years, and in the beginning, you can bet that the whole executive leadership (and especially the CIO) will receive pushbacks from almost everywhere.

Unfortunately, though, leading executives don´t usually stay for too long and hesitate about disruptive changes with expected ROI in the long-term. It also explains strategies like in our last article. Additionally — on paper, it looks always good if the CIO is continuously reducing the costs for overall IT. But keep in mind that the real costs of a wrong strategy will only become visible after a more extended period.

It is similar to the inspection of your car. You can save these essential costs for years. But in the end, you will very likely face an engine failure with multiplied costs.

Your strategy should also include guidance for your employees on why and how you want to address this transformation. You must start thinking in the DevOps model, and delegate responsibilities to the teams, enable working methods that allow cross-functional work and embrace new methodologies. You also want to evaluate Project teams vs. Product teams and move away from the silo-thinking with the already mentioned growth-mindset.

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Having a strategy in mind which explains the transition to knowledge workers will help your employees to adopt this significant change. Keep in mind that it lies in human nature to be change-resistant, and it is on you to place this growth mindset in your company.

And before moving to the Cloud, there are some preconditions which you need to fulfill:

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Cloud Foundations

One of the most important steps is to ensure that you have the Cloud Foundations established. These are the basic requirements to move to the Cloud, e.g., Networking, Billing, Support, Management, IAM, Security & Compliance, and some more. But it also includes knowledge about the differences in managing IT on-prem and in the Cloud. Additional essential topics to cover are the value propositions between IaaS, PaaS, and FaaS/SaaS and how to use them effectively.

Transforming the company is not about tools.

I had a customer once, hoping with O365, the employees would make use of the sharing and collaboration techniques and would become more productive. Instead — the employees started to ask how to achieve the things they have been doing before with Office 2010 and became, in fact, less productive.

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The mentioned foundations are essential for every person working with the Cloud, and you should have a plan on how you want to share these. So, you need to think about frequent training sessions, workshops, cross-functional enablements, and self-managed teams with a dedicated focus. And keep in mind that you should always prefer regular shorter training sessions instead of long training sessions, e.g., Bootcamps, as people will usually not be able to remember even half of the content. Also, differentiate between forced training vs. open training for people who are willing to work on the Cloud and happy to learn new things. You want to identify the employees who are eager to drive the change and have an impact on others.

Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)

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And this brings us to the CCoE, which is a team holding cross-functional responsibilities and roles together. It is about having a Cloud-ready team focusing on the Cloud Foundations, designing Platform Architectures, connecting with Business and Finance, including Security and Compliance, embracing Automation, DevSecOps, and Infrastructure as Code(IaC), and enabling other teams within the company.

Essential requirements for this team are having people with powerful leadership skills, and that it has full executive sponsorship.

It is self-evident to require excellent leadership top-bottom. But with the CCoE, you are building an additional team providing leadership and enablement inside-out. It is the power of a community that can drive change and motivates people to get over their initial resistance of change.

Therefore, the CCoE should evangelize internally about the benefits of the Cloud, define the guidelines, and assist any other teams if they are struggling. They need to motivate the teams in getting interested in the Cloud and not only force them to move to the Cloud. It needs to go hand in hand with the training enablement to not establish a bottleneck with the CCoE, but more creating a partner who can help to enable the teams working on their own.

In the end, you want to have numerous teams who can take over responsibility and make use of the Cloud on their own with central Governance. (e.g., DevOps model)

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Typical errors around CCoEs are to bring all of them from outside or building up a fully separated team, entirely disconnected from any internal experience on processes and company culture, and let them design their beautiful dream.

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And how should your CCoE be designed? Well, there are different approaches from each Cloud provider with some recommendations, but you should make your own decision on this. (e.g., MSFT — reference link) And if you lack resources who can build up the CCoE, there are even external resources available who can help you, e.g., Microsoft FastTrack.

My recommendation is to establish a virtual team with your most ambitious people who can drive the change. (check this explanation from Google — Reference Link) From a role perspective, the recommendations from Google are very comprehensive, and you should try to include all of those in your CCoE successively. (Reference Link — “Cloud CCoE Roles”)

In addition to the enablement capabilities of the CCoE, you also need Decisions, Governance, Control, and Prioritization. Therefore, you will need (kind of) a steering committee where you encapsulate the roles of all your executive leadership team. The CCoE is tightly aligned with the steering committee and provides suggestions and recommendations. But the steering committee is strongly needed to enforce topics and make undiscussable decisions not to waste too much time and give a clear direction.

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We will dive in-depth in this area in future articles, but to give you some understanding of what the activities of this steering committee are:

  • Prioritization of dedicated use cases or apps
  • Dedicated evaluation of new use cases with Business Value
  • Consolidation / homogenization decisions
  • Migration option decisions after app assessment with 6R´s (link)
  • PaaS / SaaS enforcements
  • Multi-Hybrid-Cloud decision
  • Security / Compliance decisions
  • Finance decisions / dedicated cost improvement

And finally — a good strategy?

You know now about many dependent topics that influence the strategy.

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So, let us sum everything up:

  • Take the Chance for Transformation
  • Build an overarching IT Architecture & Roadmap Design (CIO)
  • Define Business Value and new Business Fields (CTO)
  • Establish an agreed alignment and cooperation through all CxOs
  • Establish and train on the Cloud Foundations
  • Build up a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)
  • Instantiate a Steering Board

All need to work together and should not get themselves attracted by any short-term non-sense strategies and take the employees with them on this journey.

The main target is to enable all employees and provide the (DevOps) teams the necessary freedom they need to have but to have control and governance in place to prioritize and define the rail guards.

And here we reached the finish line again. I hope you liked it, and please leave comments with feedback, criticism, or own experience here. These two articles have been our introduction to more focused articles in the future.

All the best,

David das Neves

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