A younger businessman sits at his desk contemplating if he moved to the cloud without a proper implementation strategy

Wondering if your leap to cloud was the right move?

There’s a right way of doing things, for all the right reasons.

And then there’s the other way. The kneejerk reaction to significant (and often scary) changes in the financial, business, and social climate. The one that keeps you up at night wondering if you did the right thing by jumping on the cloud transformation bandwagon, just because it was going past, rather than because it was going in the direction you’d already planned to take.

Despite the rush to the cloud prompted by COVID, Deloitte says that “46% of businesses are not quite ready for cloud technology, which means they are not set to maximise the business benefits that cloud can bring.”

While we’re all tired of (and even hate) technology buzz words and phrases like digital transformation, disrupt, pivot, and cloud, they are largely inescapable. And due to COVID (another word we want to put behind us) digital transformation has led most of us to the cloud, ready or not.

Cloudy outcomes

On the whole, moving to or accelerating adoption of cloud technologies has been a good thing. But it’s important to understand the difference between cloud transformation and cloud optimisation – and which part of the journey you are on. Here’s a quick 101 recap:

Cloud transformation is the process of transitioning all or some of your data, apps, and software to the cloud with the aim of becoming more efficient and adaptable, gaining the ability to quickly scale and flex at will, and improve your data security. And of course, it helps you save and manage costs as you wave goodbye to investing in physical infrastructures and on-premises software support and updates.

Then, there’s cloud optimisation.

This is the process of continuously eliminating cloud resource wastage so you’re not overspending. So, you have a strategy to judiciously select, provision, and right-size what goes where in the cloud, and which costly cloud features you consume. To put this in perspective, multiple cloud technology vendors are already reporting that 50-60% of organisations have said that optimising cloud costs is one of their goals for 2022.

A waste of cloud space and budget

When Forbes says that 30% of cloud spending is wasted, you can understand why cloud optimisation is such a hot topic right now with CEOs around the world.

So, what mistakes did so many make that backed them into an overly expensive cloud corner? What can we all learn from the mistakes of others – and ourselves?

  1. Failing to track unused instances. The cost of maintaining aging, or inactive instances in your environment can run up your cloud infrastructure costs, without even offering a ROI.
  2. Letting your instance size get away on you. If your cloud environment doesn’t have right-sized, strategically customised cloud instances, it can blow your budget out of the water.
  3. Saying ‘no’ to a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy. All clouds are not created equal, and some are more cost effective for some uses than others.
  4. Not showing orphans to the door. Orphaned volumes and snapshots of terminated instances, that is. Some cloud providers continue to charge you for keeping them handy.
  5. Expecting your IT team to keep track of everything – manually. Sorry, in this day and age, especially at an enterprise level, this just isn’t feasible. Automation exists for a reason.

Did you do it right to start with?

Now, backing up to one of our original points, did you make the right cloud transformation decisions to start with? Or was it just a matter of expedience hastened by COVID? And what wouldn’t you do again?

  1. Not adopting the right (or any) cloud strategy from the outset. You have several options when moving to the cloud, and they each impact the outcomes you experience. A cloud-first strategy means you put cloud solutions at the top of your shopping list, in preference to non-cloud solutions. Then there’s cloud-only, where you replace everything with cloud solutions regardless of whether, for example, a hybrid strategy which rationalises a balance of cloud and on-premises, makes more sense. Then there’s a cloud-workload strategy which focusses on your goals and existing application/data portfolio and to identify how and where these would be best served in terms of cost and performance). And lastly, a lift and shift strategy where legacy on-premises applications are virtualised and dropped into your cloud.
  2. You just weren’t ready. Ignoring change management and the need for training are dangerous shortcuts to take, as are failing to get top-down support or aligning the project to meet your business processes. Those are three big ‘nos’ in a row.
  3. Assuming you know everything about security. Public cloud breaches have almost all been driven by enterprise customers’ insecure configurations. And Gartner predicts that through to 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the fault of the customer’s security team.
  4. Perceiving cloud as a money-saving scheme. When, in fact, its potential for money making through improved productivity, efficiency, and superior analytics is far greater.

The right outcomes stem from the right decisions

While COVID certainly hastened the rush for the cloud, it also forced some businesses into making hasty digital transformation decisions which resulted in a less than stellar payback. This is apparent in the 70-95% failure rate cited by KPMG, McKinsey, BCG, and Bain & Company.

However, it’s reassuring to see Deloitte say that of the organisations surveyed for its Cloud Imperative paper:

  • Around 80% stated that ‘by implementing cloud they were better prepared to address future challenges and organisation needs’ and that ‘cloud enables them to innovate more quickly and frequently’
  • That 70% indicated that cloud allows them to instantly scale up or down.

The key, it seems, is to have a goal, a strategy, and a good dose of common sense. And a partner that knows the ropes.

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