An Enterprise Cloud Journey

I wrote a point of view paper for one of my customers about the journeys various organisations take and have taken with regard to cloud. I’m always very clear that its an ongoing journey – cloud is not a destination, but rather an enabler of transformation. The lens on this point of view was that of technology – as that was their focus. I broke the journey up into 8 key capabilities, with the view that an organisation could be just starting out, or well established in each of these capabilities. It was then to be determined which capabilities they needed to focus on maturing, and which capabilities were further down the road. This was where it was important to map those capabilities to business needs to effectively prioritise how that journey progresses.

I will be writing additional blog entries on each of these topics as a series, but I’ll summarise each of them now.

Traditional Information Technology – Customised and Complex

There’s no mystery here, traditional IT has developed over many years, and transformed many times (e.g. the move to virtualisation). Traditional IT has typically been complex, and heavily customised towards a specific outcome or objective.

Software-as-a-Service – Pre-built Consumable Capability

SaaS has often been an organisation’s first forays into cloud – either through the individual’s use of cloud services (just the number of cloud services used by a smartphone alone is staggering), or through the organisation’s use (e.g. application service providers moving to provide their software through cloud based models). These services are often engaged directly by a business function, and thus not always through the internal technology provider.

Private Cloud Infrastructure – Traditional Workload Hosting

Private cloud infrastructure is often the result of an organisation trying to control cloud consumption – creating a platform with the view that it would be the one stop shop for cloud hosting, whilst still completely under the organisation’s control.

Public Cloud Infrastructure – Commodity Compute Platforms

As the level of direct control and intervention required by an organisation reduces, coupled with a desire to manage less infrastructure, public cloud – both shared and more often dedicated becomes a strong focus.

Hybrid Applications – Driving Hybrid IT

Applications, or rather business functions start moving from many interconnected privately hosted applications to a combination of those applications and standard services provided by third parties. This often drives changes to sourcing, service management, security, and integration.

Cloud Native Applications – Powering Digital Innovation

As the focus moves from reducing run costs to reducing change costs, portions of applications are rewritten or refactored towards cloud native concepts, often coinciding with organisational changes in development and delivery (often using methodologies from the agile family).

Next Generation Technologies

The familiarity with cloud services and the increased experience gained by the organisation often enables additional cloud capabilities to be leveraged within applications or business functions (e.g. advanced analytics, AI).

Multi-Cloud Applications

An area typically less explored, but the ability to move applications around based on changing needs, or bursting applications from a private to a public cloud is a desirable capability, however this capability is typically heavily dependent on applications developed to take advantage of this flexibility. Technologies such as containers often come into play here.

All organisations go through this journey differently, based on many factors. One of the key influences on that journey however should always be an understanding of the business strategy, and the capabilities needed to support the current business priorities.

~ Mike

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