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Don’t let the cloud ‘cloud’ your judgement
Wed, 15th Dec 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Some of this was brought about by the sudden impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, an urgent need to support a distributed workforce and a realisation that incumbent infrastructure was not able to support the business. For others, it has been part of planned digital transformation efforts to be more agile, reduce costs and perhaps grab a competitive edge.

Whatever the reason, those charged with making the decision for their organisation to migrate to the cloud must be crystal clear on the business strategy and the organisation's goals. While it's clear that the cloud can accelerate digital transformation, some organisations make poor choices, which can be costly.

One of the key problems is that too many assumptions are being made. For example, there is a belief that the cloud provider does everything; this is not the case in some industries. For example, they may only be storing your data for 30 days, which is an issue in regulated sectors such as government and financial services.

Another issue is lots of holes where the cloud hasn't been configured correctly, such as no consideration to regulatory requirements or privacy laws. There is this untrained belief that the cloud is 'click and go' and the hyperscaler will take care of everything. That's not the case, and it's incumbent on the organisation to ensure its cloud implementation is appropriately configured and has the proper governance in place.

If it's not, it can expose several other issues.

For instance, if not properly optimised, it may result in cost blow-outs because you're spending money on services you don't need, such as extra virtual machines. On the flip side, you may be missing out on cloud services that can deliver more value to your business. A good example is the ability to spin up a Kubernetes cluster to use artificial intelligence or machine learning.

Do your cost analysis

If you want to do a 'lift and shift' to the cloud, it's important to cost it out properly. That may seem an obvious step, but it's a common mistake costing organisations tens of thousands of dollars.

For example, in one case, a customer was spending approximately $30,000 a month for its cloud setup simply because they hadn't correctly optimised it and were unnecessarily paying for services and features they did not need. After a few weeks of specialist help and a number of changes, including fully aligning the cloud to the business strategy, their monthly bill was reduced to $10,000.

Decisions must be made by understanding what the organisation is trying to achieve by a cloud migration and then selecting the right technology to deliver the business objectives. You cannot advise on technology decisions without first understanding the business problem. If you don't understand what you're trying to solve, how do you know what technology will work?

That's a fundamental problem in a lot of cloud decision-making.

Extracting Value from The Cloud

Extracting value from the cloud isn't always an ongoing operational matter.

A company needs to be clear on the business case and map out how they will use it effectively. It's also about cost optimising, configuring cloud, and leveraging cloud services to derive greater value.

This, in turn, ensures you can plan your budget in advance and avoid 'bill shock'. Of course, that requires having the proper governance in place upfront.

You need to know how you're going to extract value, what you put into the cloud, what remains on-premise, and then ensure you've got all that compliance and governance in place relevant to your industry sector.

As was stated at the outset of this article, many organisations are migrating to the cloud. That's a good thing.

But at the same time, there needs to be caution in making that decision and ensuring it's being designed to deliver tangible value for the organisation and keeping long-term goals in mind.

Done correctly, it will reduce the complexity of your cloud migration and ensure a secure foundation to build on.

And moving to the cloud is not a 'set and forget' task. You will need to continuously take responsibility and monitor and optimise costs, services, and security.