Multiple surveys show that leveraging cloud in the enterprise is among the top priorities for companies today. Much of the efforts to date in cloud migration, which we could refer to as Wave One of cloud transformation, were fueled by a “lift and shift” approach that focused on infrastructure benefits – typically with a single cloud provider combined with on-prem and/or private cloud. This wave was primarily driven by IT with a focus on virtualization and achieving infrastructure modernization benefits. It was also characterized more by an ad hoc and experimental approach to cloud.
As cloud computing capabilities continue to mature, more companies have started to realize that there are long-term benefits beyond IT infrastructure cost reduction that can be achieved through an approach that that focuses on application modernization and becoming cloud-native. This can be referred to as Wave Two of cloud transformation. Instead of an ad hoc experimental approach, there’s the emergence of a cloud-first and top-down strategy. Rather than single-source cloud, enterprises are now moving towards hybrid multi-cloud environments. Most importantly, organizations are now considering how cloud-native strategies can change revenue, enhance customer experience and responsiveness to demands, improve developer productivity, and allow them to bring new ideas to market faster.
However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for most companies and cloud transformation continues to be a complex undertaking. A study from QA Vector Insight showed that a majority of companies surveyed had major gaps in meeting expectations, with many companies having gaps that exceeded 50% of the anticipated benefit. Major gaps exist in areas such as cost, scalability, customer experience and resiliency. Such a level of expectation gap speaks to a poor process in strategy and planning in cloud transformation. A key cause continues to be a lack of clear definition of what the business and operational goals are before embarking cloud transformation programs.
Bridging this gap begins with applying the right approach, or what is frequently referred to as cloud adoption framework. That means taking the time to formulate a strategy and define best-practice processes for cloud transformation programs – in particular, how this will impact not only your infrastructure, but also your operations, people, business, culture and clients. Organizations who achieve success in cloud migrations do not simply think about cloud as an infrastructure and engineering effort. A well-defined cloud strategy can better ensure that you achieve ongoing measurable value in your organization.
Each of the major cloud service providers promote a cloud adoption framework and while there are major overlaps, we can also find some differences. Fundamentally, no two organizations are alike in terms of the characteristics of their IT estate (applications, data center, IT operations), business drivers, competitive landscape and client needs. Therefore, we find that a cloud adoption framework will require some customization to each enterprise’s needs.
We advocate a process that enables an enterprise to connect business goals and desired benefits to cloud technologies and results in a linkage of business capabilities and outcomes with cloud initiatives. A key activity is to execute an analysis exercise that takes both application and business architecture attributes into consideration and combines it with financial information on both IT (e.g. servers, cost of operations, developers) and business metrics (e.g. revenue, transaction volume, number of users)
Doing so can yield a macro view of the business value and technical migration complexity that can be combined with total cost of ownership information and used to create a 6R strategy for each application (Retain, Retire, Re-host, Re-purchase, Re-Platform, Re-Factor). Just as importantly, this information can also be viewed from a lens of business capabilities (e.g. customer onboarding). The 6R analysis helps illustrate how many applications support a given business capability and aligns them to a transformation roadmap. On this basis, we can develop a portfolio transformation roadmap by business capability, application, and workload type while being able to see associated costs and timelines.
Infusing your cloud adoption framework approach with a business capability lens gives enterprises the ability to see their portfolios from both a business and an application infrastructure perspective across multiple attributes that better inform decision-making about how to proceed on their cloud journeys. For example, an application initially designated for re-host may now warrant a larger investment to re-factor. Finally, following a business capability approach can help enterprises more easily adopt a microservices architecture and leverage container and orchestration technologies that position them to more easily migrate to the cloud.
We are fully in the midst of Wave Two of the cloud transformation and the stakes are higher than ever before. Now is the time to fully invest and reimagine your business for the cloud computing era.