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Speeding Transition to the Cloud: Cloud Strategy

When someone mentions the cloud, it can illicit different feelings from fear to excitement. The cloud concept is simple – the cloud allows organizations to procure technology as a service. However, what is not as simple is determining how the cloud best fits into your organization.

As we discussed in our past article, there are several steps that can help speed the transition to the cloud and becoming a digital business. One imperative step is developing a comprehensive cloud strategy which differentiates between top line and bottom line improvements.  A sound cloud strategy provides a practical approach that addresses short-term benefits as well as a long-term foundation for performance improvements.

A few points to consider when creating your cloud strategy:

  1. It’s not a separate initiative: Most organizations make the fatal error of creating a separate cloud initiative instead of integrating cloud technologies that address aging IT infrastructure and legacy applications. Adopting the cloud will impact governance, your organizational model, sourcing and vendor management; therefore it’s imperative to integrate.
  2. Develop a Cloud Roadmap: Undertaking cloud adoption will require IT organizations to develop a roadmap that not only integrates cloud technologies but also includes business strategy. A successful cloud strategy must have both.
  3. Optimize, optimize, optimize: When crafting your cloud strategy, develop ways to optimize your existing IT capabilities instead of creating net new capabilities. Cloud services are change agents and can change the way business processes are executed and, as a result, reveal hidden opportunities.
  4. Many Services, Many Value Propositions: The cloud does not have a single value proposition for all services; as a result, organizations need to take that into consideration when developing their cloud strategy.  When developing your cloud strategy, be flexible and recognize that some services are cloud-compatible but might be too costly to make cloud-ready. However, there are some services that are perfect for the cloud and have considerable cost savings, but remember there are others that are not.
  5. Standardization: Standardization is required for the cloud and can be the fas vehicle to cost savings, but is not easy to adopt.
  6. Business and IT Partnership: Cloud adoption will change the way business and technology interact at the strategic  With cloud adoption, the business will view IT as a strategic partner in creating a more agile, high performing business, which reinforces the need for integration.

In summary, with any cloud adoption strategy organizations must first determine where they can benefit from the cloud. There is an opportunity for IT organizations to turn the cloud into a new core competency which will move IT from being a provider of services to a hybrid IT organization that delivers and brokers services in multiple ways to drive more powerful business value. Once you have figured out a sound cloud strategy, you are moving in the right direction to become a digital business.

For help in developing your cloud strategy, contact us.

-Yvette Schmitter, Sr. Project Manager

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Psychology of Enterprise Cloud Adoption

As Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to develop their enterprise adoption strategy, we sometimes forget that less than 10 years ago these services were created for the developer community. The vision for developing an enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure was only an apparition. This dream of running enterprise applications in the cloud is starting to take hold. Many years of ing, qualifying, and redesigning has led us to a time when enterprises have the choice to host more than a simple website in the cloud. Today, we are seeing this adoption take place right in front of our eyes based on a few simple human factors when it comes to trying new things. This physiological human factor is defining the way that we are consuming cloud technologies, and we are seeing it play out time after time in just a few simple steps.

Pre-Observation – In this stage, you have either never thought about needing to change your IT structure or you have never thought about it seriously. Trying something new often takes courage. You never want to be the first to try something for the first time for fear of failing. Often we receive ideas about things we might need to change from others—family, friends, co-workers—but react negatively by reflex. After all, we are usually quite happy with our current stable of habits (if we were not, we would not have them in the first place). However, if we can find a way to react more openly to change, we might find some value in learning something new. As Humans, we are inherently defined by our surroundings and we constantly review and evaluate our progress by the actions of others near us. At this point, you understand if you are a leader or a lager.

Observation – Here we have begun to actively think about the need to change a behavior, in this case adopting cloud services. This stage can last anywhere from a moment to an entire lifetime. What exactly causes us to move from this stage to the next is moving from awareness to practice. What causes this change can come from many different factors. They can include competition, survival, personal perception, growth, and the list continues. Everyone has their own motivational drivers, so it is up to each of us to understand them and react to them when we see fit. Trying new things can be very rewarding as it offers us an opportunity to develop into something better than our current state. Observe where you are and think if you are in a place to accept change.

Purpose – In this stage, we begin preparing ourselves mentally and even physically for action. This is our opportunity to place our preverbal stake in the ground and say, “Now we change.” The commitment to change energizes our promise to achieve a goal. This change away from our routine helps challenge us. It helps guide new opportunities and growth because we have alleviated our fear of change. This stage is extremely important for decision makers, as the commitment states that you understand all the facts, you understand a path for change, and it is measureable and achievable to your organization. In the case of cloud services adoption, this stage is also known as “The cloud migration strategy and adoption methodology”.

Action – In this stage, you start changing. You can feel this in every action you put forward. Business units, stakeholders, and executives feel the change happening with every move. It is uncomfortable, but it is leading your team in the right direction. Your commitment keeps driving you to stay the course, and you know that your earlier preparations will guide you to success.

Management – Now that you have changed to cloud based services, you are done, right? Not likely. Just like losing weight, once you lose it, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep the weight off. Once you have made the commitment to using cloud-based services, you need to maintain that change by reviewing our adoption processes. What worked well and what didn’t? What other units of your business could benefit from this change? Management of a new behavior can be the most challenging part of the adoption process. Changing habits and practices is tough because you will find resistance at every level. Constant evaluation will keep the adoption process moving forward successfully. This process will need to be executed from the top-down and bottom-up. You have just changed a process, now you need to change behavior.

Change is hard for any organization, let alone just one person. The larger the organization, the more challenging the process will be. However, the process will be more rewarding in the end as well because you were able to make considerable impact to the way processes are completed within your organization. You must be willing to take risk, and you will benefit from the reward.
-Blake Diers, Alliance Manager

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Cloud Security: AWS

There are four main reasons why companies are moving to the cloud. They include: agility, availability, cost and security. When meeting with the CIO of a prominent movie studio in LA earlier this week he said, “The primary area that we need to understand is security. Our CEO does not want any critical information leaving or being stored offsite.” While the CEO’s concern is valid, cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) are taking extraordinary measures to ensure both privacy and security on their platform. Below is an overview of the measures taken by AWS.

  • Accreditations and Certifications      – AWS has created a compliance program to help customers understand the      substantial practices in place for both data protection and security to      meet either government or industry requirements. For example, PCI DSS      Level 1, ITAR, etc. for government and HIPAA, MPAA, etc. for industry.
  • Data Protection and Privacy – AWS      adheres to the stric data protection and privacy standards and      regulations, including  FISMA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. AWS datacenter      employees are given limited access to the location of customer systems on      an as-needed basis. Discs are also shredded and never re-used by another      customer.
  • Physical Security – Infrastructure      is located in nondescript AWS-controlled datacenters. The location of and      access into each datacenter is limited to employees with legitimate      business reasons (access is revoked when the business reason ends).      Physical access is strictly controlled at both the perimeter and      building ingress points.
  • Secure Services – AWS      infrastructure services are designed and managed in accordance with      security best practices, as well as multiple security compliance      standards. Infrastructure services contain multiple capabilities that      restrict unauthorized access or usage without sacrificing the flexibility      that customers demand.
  • Shared Responsibility – A shared      responsibility exists for compliance and security on the AWS cloud. AWS      owns facilities, infrastructure (compute, network and storage), physical      security and the virtualization layer. The customer owns applications,      firewalls, network configuration, operating system and security groups.

The AWS cloud provides customers with end-to-end privacy and security via its collaboration with validated experts like NASA, industry best practices and its own experience building and managing global datacenters. AWS documents how to leverage these capabilities for customers. To illustrate: I recently met with a VP of Infrastructure for a $1B+ SaaS company in San Francisco. He said, “We are moving more workloads to AWS because it is so secure.” The people, process and technology are in place to achieve the highest level of physical and virtual privacy and security.

-Josh Lowry, General Manager-West

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