One of the enduring conversations within the cloud industry centers on how to increase adoption. This might be viewed as somewhat self-serving — after all, cloud advocates definitely want more adoption.
But the more interesting discussion it creates is around what conditions make cloud a true success for an organization.
As Todd Nielsen has pointed out over at Wired Innovation Insights, several “hurdles” can stand in the way of cloud adoption, from issues with a particular vendor’s platform right up to a chief decision maker thinking that the premise is all hype.
To elaborate on that, here we’d like to explore some of the more common stumbling points and suggest a few ways to reframe the cloud conversation.
Security has been a widely explored issue in the cloud. While difficulties remain, especially where public cloud is concerned, security of the cloud is as good as or better than anything that can be set up on-premises. That’s the case, particularly in a managed service provider (MSP) model, because the degree of expertise and specialization in security is far greater at an MSP than at most businesses. MSPs live or die by their ability to offer customers secure clouds. They also tend to have more staff dedicated to providing that full coverage around security than most other businesses, since security expertise can be extremely costly.
Costs can quickly ramp up in the cloud, particularly, as Gathering Clouds favorite Ben Kepes notes, when the benefits of accessing cloud are easily obtained by different business units without any oversight to monitor that usage. In that same article, Ben cites Matt Ellis’ four-step cycle as a smart way to help account for costs in the cloud. Matt suggests:
- Tell finance to categorize cloud expenditure in a special place to keep an eye on it.
- Obtain a cloud cost management solution to avoid any surprises.
- Review costs. Ask questions (Can we do more with less?). Optimize.
- Hold people accountable for their spending.
Some other important steps to curb costs in the cloud rest in understanding when it’s appropriate to consolidate down to a private cloud, or even a hybrid cloud, to ensure that there is a baseline predictability in your consumption of resources, which in turn helps to reduce over-provisioning and over-scaling.
Off-the-shelf vs. Customized
Often, problems with cloud solutions have a lot to do with the vendor’s inability to frame solutions appropriately to the needs of a business. It’s important to consider this issue, especially if you are being sold something that isn’t 100% what you need. This is an area where working with an MSP who is known for becoming an extension of a business’ strategy is really powerful. No two businesses are alike, and no two cloud solutions should be 100% the same, either.
One of the chief challenges to broad cloud adoption is the Sisyphean task of moving over large parts of a business’ preexisting infrastructure. This is especially difficult when a business has many legacy systems that are perhaps too old or too customized to be simply transferred. This issue in particular is where a good MSP is really valuable, since its technicians are experts at adapting clouds to the specific requirements of a business, as well as in-depth knowledge of common migration pitfalls.
[ See 7 Ways Cloud Enables Innovation ]
Integrating existing systems or disconnected clouds can be a challenge. Between compatibility issues, potentially outdated OSs, and older versions of MySQL or other cloud-related tools, there are lots of moving parts to consider with cloud. Ultimately, though, hesitancy related to integration woes is a reason in and of itself to make the move: With an outsourced cloud, the business’ responsibilities to perform constant updates, monitor compatibility issues, and even do basic maintenance go away. Keeping systems up-to-date and functional with the best and newest tools in the industry is what an MSP does.
Convincing the Non-Believers
Perhaps the toughest challenge of all is overcoming internal bias against cloud. Once all other issues are satisfied, much of the internal strife related to cloud adoption can be traced to individuals who view the change as a threat to their position or the tried and true processes that have become their territory within an organization. This is typically the most trying issue to solve; often, the only way around is to wait for that person to leave an organization, as Ben Kepes also notes). Interestingly, just because outsourced cloud removes the technical upkeep focus within an organization, that doesn’t mean the employees who used to perform those tasks become redundant. Rather, the savings in technology investment and upkeep frees those employees to focus on jobs that can more directly benefit the company.
By Jake Gardner