How to make cloud expectations meet reality

cloud expectations meet reality
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Adam is the leader of Rackspace’s Professional Services capability in EMEA, with more than 15 years experience delivering complex projects and programmes in the US, UK and Europe.

Digital transformation has well and truly become a requirement for businesses to thrive and the cloud is a key enabler for meeting this, delivering scalability, reducing costs, and laying the foundation for innovation. Yet the complexity that comes with migrating to the cloud means the reality is falling short of expectations for many, according to a recent report from Accenture.

While 77 per cent of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud, only one-third of these companies have achieved their expected cloud outcomes. This gap between adoption and satisfaction points to many coming unstuck in the implementation stage.

While businesses are getting increasingly faster at adopting new technology, many struggle to understand and fail to adequately plan for the barriers they may face along the journey. Any change involving processes, people, and their relationship with technology is bound to be anything but straightforward, and the move to cloud is no different.

So, where should businesses start when it comes to managing this gap and ultimately realizing the promise of cloud services?

1. Align all stakeholders from the outset

The complexity of business and organizational change is one of the major barriers to cloud success – 55 per cent of Accenture’s respondents identified this as a reason they haven’t achieved expected cloud outcomes. A study commissioned by Rackspace reflected this finding, with one-third of respondents saying a lack of alignment between business and technology impacted their migration process.

For cloud migrations to be successful, it is imperative that businesses devote attention to managing the gap between expectations and reality from the outset. This means starting with an accurate perspective on their mindset, maturity, and capability. Senior business and IT teams also need to work together from the get-go to deliver successful migration programs, focusing on strong communication and identification of the right resources and skills across the business, together with rigorous planning, building, and testing.

2. Manage security and compliance risk

Rackspace’s research found that security and privacy compliance were organizations’ top concerns regarding their cloud infrastructure (76 per cent and 51 per cent of respondents). Losing operational control of data creates vulnerability to external security and privacy threats, while GDPR and other data management regulations have established greater penalties for the theft, misuse, and abuse of customer data.

Businesses can balance the migration to a cloud infrastructure with ensuring assets are secure by proactively understanding the ever-evolving threat landscape, developing a dedicated cloud security strategy from the outset, and engaging partners to help implement or strengthen network security. Beyond threat protection, they also need to implement swift breach detection and remediation to minimize the time cybercriminals can spend in the environment and the damage they can do.

3. Close the skills gap

Nearly half of organizations (47 per cent) surveyed by Rackspace said they only realized they lacked the requisite cloud skills during the migration. Specialist expertise is needed throughout the process of architecting, securing, and managing the migration. Yet too often the realization that this is missing happens once the project has already kicked off, meaning businesses aren’t able to accelerate the value of the cloud, something that a specialist, trusted third-party can provide. This not only increases the time-to-value of cloud programs, it can impact the end-user experience, disrupt business operations, and cause financial damage.

4. Finding the right partner

Misalignment across the business, compliance concerns, and a lack of specialist skills all point to the absence of a strategic vision. IT departments today may be getting faster at adopting new technologies, but they still seem to fall short on understanding the requirements – and limitations – of the business consuming it.

This is where the value of an unbiased, experienced partner comes in. The essential reshaping of both the technical and cultural approach to IT services when migrating to the cloud is no mean feat for a business “going it alone”. An external partner helps establish strategies that ensure a successful cloud migration for future stability and guides a business through the process, providing specialist skills, experience running similar projects and the expertise to overcome hurdles – ultimately bridging the gap between the complexity of today’s technology and the promise of tomorrow.

5. Meeting expectations

The value of the adoption of cloud computing is undeniable – from helping deliver a better service offering for customers to keeping pace with change and innovating. But to ensure the reality delivers on this promise, businesses need to devote time and resources to aligning all stakeholders, planning how to address barriers, managing security and compliance, and bringing in a trusted partner to help create a roadmap to bolster these efforts.

Adam Evans is leader of Rackspace’s Professional Services capability in EMEA.