The vast majority of enterprises plan to migrate more workloads to the cloud in 2016. But IT teams may not be prepared to maintain cloud resources, a new survey by Logicworks finds.
According to the report, nearly half of IT decision makers believe their organization’s IT workforce is not completely prepared to address the challenges of managing their cloud resources over the next five years. As cloud adoption grows, this can have serious impacts on the long-term success of cloud in the enterprise.
Underestimating Cloud Management
A cloud platform like Amazon Web Services simplifies infrastructure management by providing resources that can be spun up in seconds — plus built-in tools to facilitate common maintenance tasks.
However, many organizations mistake “simplified” infrastructure maintenance for “little to no” infrastructure maintenance; in other words, they think maintaining their cloud systems will be easy. And when leadership thinks of the cloud as easy, IT teams suffer.
In fact, the survey found that eighty percent (80%) of IT decision makers feel that leadership underestimates the cost and effort of managing cloud systems. And because they underestimate cloud management, they do not effectively plan for the staffing and resources IT requires to achieve highly available, scalable cloud systems.
The reality is that a resource like Amazon EC2 is just a virtual server — you still need to manage backups, upgrades, patches, etc. You still need to monitor it, and if it goes down at 3AM, your team needs to bring it back up. Platforms like Microsoft Azure and AWS have introduced tools to make these tasks easier, but they have not eliminated these tasks entirely. This is also true to some extent with “plug and play” SaaS platforms; someone still needs to manage access, configure reports, integrate the tool with existing workflows, etc.
Increased Pressure on IT
When you combine lack of cloud management planning, lack of cloud expertise, and the increasing pressure to deliver infrastructure faster and more reliably, you can see why IT teams are struggling to keep up.
These pressures sometimes cause cloud projects to falter and stagnate after the first wave of migration. The company usually gets some cost benefits from migrating, but does not get the agility benefits they expected.
The easy answer to cloud agility and cost concerns is automation and continuous delivery; in other words, use experienced cloud engineers to automate common maintenance tasks. Unfortunately, the same survey found that the majority of respondents (54%) think it is extremely difficult to find good DevOps talent; and they cited lack of expertise as a top reason why they cannot automate their cloud deployments further.
Anecdotally, the team at Logicworks has encountered dozens of mid-sized companies similar challenges. They have one or two projects in the cloud, but have realized that cloud migration is not the hard part — cloud management is. And they do not have operational maturity on cloud platforms to transition existing processes (runbooks, incident response plans, change management processes) to the cloud. For many, supplementing their internal team with external experts is the answer.