CxO You need to understand this about Cloud

In order to embrace full potential of modern techniques like AI/ML, IoT, Agile, DevOps, you need CLOUD to enable your IT to support Business at full scale

It’s probably useless to start making more listings of the benefits of the cloud. There has been enough of those during the past 5 years. At the same time the digital transformation has been on the table of every CEO, CIO, CDO, CMO, etc. We can all agree that we need to have a modern data warehouses, make mobile solutions, be agile, create new digital services and utilize artificial intelligence. In the Cloud, these services can be taken for granted. However, I have noticed that companies and organizations don´t necessarily understand what the utilization of cloud really means and requires from you.

In order to embrace the full potential of modern techniques like AI/ML, IoT, Agile, DevOps, you need CLOUD to enable your IT to support Business at full scale

Why the platform matters?

Usually, technology is technology and should not be mixed with strategy discussions, but I think that the cloud makes an exception, at least next x years (I’m not going to predict). When advanced digital transformation companies are telling the story where data is the new oil and other possibilities of the new business opportunities, they seem to forget to mention the platform that makes it all possible. Without the cloud, flexible and scalable modern data platforms with AI and other innovative solutions fall short. You just cannot get that speed, ease of management and the variety of services from on-prem or “private cloud” solutions.

Problem is that Senior management may lack an understanding of how big change the cloud is for their organization especially for IT, how it tightly links to digital transformation and what kind of resistance it may create.

Still today, there are a number of large companies where their own IT department does not know how to properly utilize the cloud

Change resistance and skills gap leads to shadow IT

Still today, there are a number of large companies where their own IT department does not know how to properly utilize the cloud and, at worst, they deliberately slow down cloud-related projects. This is natural, you tend to resist things that are unknown and things that put you out of your comfort zone. For these reasons, things aren´t moving at the speed that business wants.

This can create a shadow IT inside the company, where business units start to acquire cloud solutions directly so that they do not have to struggle unnecessarily with un-matching solution offering and lack of capabilities of their own IT.

The key challenge here is that when you start to develop services in an environment where you haven´t built your foundation properly, the continuity and manageability of services you build, are at risk. Lack of centralized management entails unnecessary risks as eg. unmanaged users become a huge risk.
In this way, environments in the cloud by different business units and by different partners are created with no one thinking about the whole. IT has traditionally thought about these things, but now it has been ignored. IT’s concerns and resistance against these types of projects are genuine and valid. If they don’t have the skills to build cloud services, so how would business units have? Well, they have the courage and enthusiasm to go forward but they’ve not used to handle subjects related to continuity and manageability.

This leads to, as I have written previously, into cloud service mess and uncontrolled cloud.

Going to the cloud is a big change that needs to be better addressed and lead properly.

How could this be taken into account and handled better?

Communication

Effective internal communication is needed. When the strategy outlines that we are developing new digital services and ecosystems, it must be made clear that this means deploying new cloud services. This must be repeated! The issue mentioned in the management’s monthly letter is just not enough. Many times I’ve been in situations where the customer’s personnel have been told that they’re going to take the environment into the cloud, but no one has really understood what that really means.

Leading the change

When communication is in order, you need a leader with the power to act and understanding of the cloud. If going to the cloud is not managed properly and with a sufficient mandate, it is difficult to move things forward. Care must be taken to ensure that data center processes and architectures do not fall into the cloud. In the cloud, new ways of working are needed, and addressing this may sometimes require the use of powers.

Engagement and competence development

A good leader understands that know-how does not come from scratch and everything cannot be outsourced. So at the same time when it´s important to bring in knowledgeable partners in your projects, it is also to involve your own IT from the beginning. Existing competencies should also be mapped and based on this, form learning paths to the new cloud roles. A properly motivated old data center fox can be very eager to update their skills. Old knowledge and skills do not become obsolete overnight, they are only used differently.

Motivation

Going to the cloud is a big change for your staff, not just IT. Procurement and budgeting also change, contracts are different, etc. This can give rise to fears that one’s job is in danger and one’s skills are not enough. By encouraging competence development and rewarding achievements, a positive atmosphere is created where everyone has the same goal. This is not rocket science.

With these things in mind, we can start building a modern digital services platform that supports business and agile development.

Our adaptive cloud transformation framework helps you to do this without the need for a massive transformation project; it just ensures that all the things are taken into account.

The time span, needed resources, etc. are adapted to your needs and your situation.

Contact me if you are interested to learn more

Anton Floor
Cloud Advisor
anton.floor@solita.fi

AWS Summit Berlin 2019

My thoughts on the Berlin AWS Summit 2019

What is an AWS Summit?

AWS Summits are small, free events that happen in various cities around the world. They are a “satellite” event of the re:Invent which takes place in Las Vegas every year in November. If you cannot attend re:Invent, you should definately try to attend an AWS Summit.

Berlin AWS Summit

I have had the pleasure of attending the Berlin AWS Summit for 4 years in a row.

Werner Vogels

The event was a 2 day event held on 26-27 of February 2019 in Berlin. The first day was more focused for management or new cloud users and the second day had more deep-dive technical sessions. The event started with a keynote held by Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon. This year the Berlin AWS Summit seemed to be very focused on topics around Machine Learning and AI. Also I think this year there were more people attending compared to 2018 or 2017.

You will always find other sessions that are interesting to you, even if ML&AI are currently not on your radar. For example I attended the session about “Observability for Modern Applications” that showed how to use AWS X-Ray and App Mesh to monitor and control large scale microservices running in AWS EKS or similar. App Mesh is currently in public preview and it looks very interesting!

The partners

Every year there are a lot of stands by various partners showcasing their products to the passers by. You can also participate in raffles with the cost of your email address (and obvious marketing emails that will ensue). Most of them will also hand out free swag, stickers or pens etc.

stands 1Stands 2Stands 3

Solita Oy is an AWS Partner, please check our qualifications on the AWS Partners page.

Differences to previous years

This year there was no AWS Certified lounge which was a surprise to me. It is a restricted area for people who have an active AWS Certification where they can network with other certified people. I hope it will return next year again.

 

Thank you for the event!

Thank you and goodbye

Modern cloud operation: successful cloud transformation, part 2

How to ensure a successful cloud transformation? In the first part of this two-part blog series, I explained why and how cloud transformation often fails despite high expectations. In this second part, I will explain how to succeed in cloud transformation, i.e. how to move services to the cloud in the right way.

Below, there are three important tips that will help you reach a good outcome.

1. Start by defining a cloud strategy and a cloud governance model

We often discuss with our customers how to manage, monitor and operate the cloud and what things should be considered when working with third party developers. Many customers are also interested to know what kinds of guidelines and operating models should be determined in order to keep everything under control.

You don’t need a big team to brainstorm and create loads of new processes to define a cloud strategy and update governance models.

To succeed in updating your cloud strategy and governance model, you have to take a very close look at things and realise that you are moving things to a new environment that functions differently from traditional data centers.

So it’s important to understand that for example software projects can be developed in a completely new way in the cloud with multiple suppliers. However, it must be kept in mind that this sort of operation requires a governance model and instructions on what kind of minimum requirements the new services that are to be linked to the company’s systems should have and how their maintenance and continuity should be taken care of. For instance, you have to decide how you can ensure that cloud accounts, data security and access management are taken care of.

2. Insist on having modern cloud operation – choose a suitable partner or get the needed knowhow yourself

Successful cloud transformation requires right kind of expertise. However, traditional service providers rarely have the required skills. New kinds of cloud operators have emerged to solve this issue. Their mission is to help customers manage cloud transformation. How can you identify such operators and what should you demand from them?

The following list is formed on the basis of views presented by Gartner, Forrester and AWS on modern operators. When you are looking for a partner…

  • demand a strong DevOps culture. It forms a good foundation for automation and development of services.
  • ensure cloud-native expertise on platforms and applications.It creates certainty that an expert who knows the whole package and understands how applications and platforms work together is in charge of the project.
  • check that your partner has skills in multiple platforms. AWS, Azure and Google are all good alternatives.
  • ask if your partner masters automatic operation and predictive analytics. These skills reduce variable costs and contribute to quick recovery from incidents.
  • demand agile operating methods, as well as transparency and continuous development of services. With clear and efficient service processes, cost management and reporting are easier and the customer understands the benefits of development.

Solita’s answer to this is a modern cloud operation partnership. In other words, we help our customers create operating models and cloud strategies. A modern cloud operator has an understanding of the whole package that has to be managed and helps to formulate proper operating models and guidelines for cloud development. It’s not our purpose to limit development speed or opportunities, but we want to pay attention to things that ensure continuity and easy maintenance. After all, the development phase is only a fraction of the whole application life cycle.

The developer’s needs are taken into account, and at the same time, for instance the following operating models are determined: How are cloud accounts created and who creates them? How are costs monitored? What kind of user rights are given and to whom? What sort of development tools are used or what targets should be achieved with them? We are responsible for deciding what things are monitored and how.

In addition, the right kind of partner knows what things should be moved to the cloud in the first place.

When moving to cloud, the word move doesn’t fit very well in this context because it is rarely recommended just to move workloads. That is why it’s better to talk about transformation, which means transforming an existing worksload at least with some modifications towards cloud native.

In my opinion, application development is one important skill a modern cloud operator should master. Today, the cloud can be seen as a platform where different kinds of systems and applications are coded. It takes more than just the ability to manage servers to succeed in this game. Therefore, DevOps culture determines how application development and operation work together. You have to understand how environments are automated and monitored.

In addition to monitoring whether applications are running, experts are able to control other things too. They can analyse how an application is working and whether it is performing effectively. A strong symbiosis between developers and operators helps to continuously develop and improve skills that are needed to improve service quality. At best, this kind of operator can promise their customers that services are available and running all the time, and if they are not, they will be fixed at a fixed monthly charge. The model aims to minimise manual operation and work that is separately invoiced per hour. For instance, the model has allowed us reduce our customers’ billable hours by up to 75%.

With the addition of knowledge on the benefits and best features of different cloud services, as well as capacity use and invoicing, you get a package that serves customers’ needs optimally.

3. Don’t try to save in migration! Make the implementation project gradual

 

Lift & shift type transfers, i.e. moving old environments as they are, don’t generate savings very often. I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen, but the best benefits are achieved by looking at operating models and the environment as a whole. This requires a comprehensive study of the things that should work in the cloud and how the application is integrated in other systems.

The whole environment and its dependencies should be analysed, and all services should be checked one by one. After that you plan migration, and it is time to think what things can be automated. This requires time and money.

A migration that leads to an environment that has been automated as much as possible is a good target. It should also lower recurrent costs related to operation and improve the quality of the service.

Solita offers all services that are needed in cloud transformation. If you are interested in the subject, read more about our services on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

Download a free Cloud Buyer's Guide