The cloud seems to be all anyone talks about these days; and based off of the reported earnings from the major cloud vendors, it seems like organizations are beginning to move their workloads into the cloud at a faster rate than ever. But for as many organizations making the move, there are just as many who still want to know what it means to “go to the cloud”. The common misconception is that moving to the cloud simply means lifting and shifting your infrastructure into a cloud environment. While this could have some potential benefits, moving to the cloud is about much more than that. Moving to the cloud is a about enablement.
Do you have metrics on how much time your teams are spending to keeping the lights on? If not, could you guess? Some teams are averaging a staggering 28% of their time focusing on things like operational overhead, deployments, maintenance, and a mix of other administrative tasks. To put that into context for teams that run two-week sprints, that’s 2.8 days per sprint that are not going towards adding new business value. The cloud eliminates the pain of purchasing and installing hardware, planning for hardware capacity, installing operating systems, and of course ongoing hardware maintenance. And that’s just for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) adopters. For those looking to use platform as a service (PaaS), then you can also save yourself some time with operating system updates, system hardening, and even scaling to some extent.
I have been a part of many projects where developers start coding, get some features ready for testing, but have nowhere to deploy; or if there is a destination for their code, it’s usually significantly underpowered and painful for others to use. This is typically because new hardware needs to be purchased to support these new applications, or the hardware available is well over capacity. This has had significant impact on the project schedules and has even resulted in halting a project I’ve been on. Organizations that have cloud subscriptions are able to spin up new environments in minutes. And if the new project doesn’t work out, the environment can always be taken down. The cloud provides a low-cost, low-risk, and low-latency option to start up and deploy projects more quickly.
Do you remember the last time you walked into a store to rent a movie? Or buy a CD? We can now stream just about any movie or song, on any device, at any time of day. Netflix and Spotify have completely disrupted the industries they serve. As an organization, would you be able to react quickly enough if a startup began disrupting the industry you serve? Would you have the agility to survive? The cloud provides an environment where organizations can quickly pivot if necessary. Most cloud vendors also provide competitive advantages in the way of artificial intelligence and machine learning at commodity prices. And if you’re application is successful enough, then cloud infrastructure can provide massive scale and global reach that’s not even possible private data centers.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Many cloud strategies have plans to enable one or more of these as well as others that aren’t on this list at all. The point to take away is that many view “moving to the cloud” as an IT or technical decision. While IT should undoubtedly have a stake in the cloud strategy, a move to the cloud isn’t really a technical decision, it’s a tactical one.