Why You Don’t Need a Cloud Strategy Right Now
“The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.” famous words uttered by Lou Gerstner before he proceeded to save IBM from imminent demise. (Who says Elephants can’t Dance.)
Why did Lou say something so utterly counter-intuitive?
It was because he didn’t have enough information at that time to form a strategy. He spent the next year gathering knowledge from customers, employees, and suppliers to identify what made IBM great. Then he created the strategy to reinforce the notion that IBM’s strength came from its ability to craft and deliver multi-national, complex solutions and support these solutions once delivered. The strategy was supported by the creation of two divisions, services, and software. The value proposition (and margins) rescued IBM.
So why do we insist on creating our cloud strategy without gathering all the information?
We hear all too often, we have a cloud-first strategy?
While the hype about the benefits of going to the cloud is not unfounded, realizing these benefits depends entirely on how you go to the cloud.
If we simply Lift & Shift our applications to the cloud, we are merely relocating to a data center somewhere else, with an additional layer of management! If this isn’t just an intermediate step before looking at making these apps more cloud-native, it could easily end up costing more.
How would you know which apps to move? All of them?
We’ve seen a major shift in how the cloud had been perceived over the last 12 months. Because the full benefits of a self-serve development environment coupled with auto-scaling and availability scheduling, organizations often looked at a public cloud as just another data center, i.e. “We’re going completely to <insert AWS, Azure or Google here>!”
However, now that there is comprehension that the various cloud services, including private cloud, all have their strengths and benefits, we now hear that “we need a hybrid, multi-cloud approach and strategy”.
It still begs the question, how do you know which apps are going where? How do we prioritize the migration of these apps? Which apps should be reimagined to be more cloud-native and live in a cloud or across clouds?
Enter the power of creating an application-centric portfolio of your workloads. Evaluating each app for its business value & technical complexity to better understand which apps should stay put for now, which apps should be replaced with a SaaS offering, which should be retired and which apps should be re-architected to take advantage of continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) with the resulting business agility and cost-effectiveness.
Let’s take a page or of Lou’s book and gather the information we need first, and only then, create a strategy.
What do you think?
>>Dateline: November 15, 2021
Well, here we are over 3 years from the original post …
Are we still putting the cart before the horse?
The answer is yes… we were speaking with a major global consulting/audit firm last week and they said, “We’ve just completed the cloud strategy for a customer and now we want to start on the business case and the assessment”
I can give you a cloud strategy here for free:
All new applications (greenfield) to built in the cloud using cloud-native services
All legacy (brownfield) applications
- Assess based upon business value and technical complexity
- Retire what you can or can refactor into another application
- Replace your existing applications with SaaS apps where applicable
- Identify the low hanging fruit i.e. high business value and low technical complexity and modernize the application using cloud-native services
- Move applications to run on Platform-as-a-Service offerings like an Open Source cloud database or off of old expensive operating systems to Open Source Linux
- For the low value applications… leave them where they are and retire them when the time is right or modernize/migrate them when the support costs exceed the transformation costs
Bring in people who have done it before and have a knowledge transfer credo so that your team can learn-by-doing
Put in the necessary organizational structure to reboot your company O/S and sustain lasting change
There you have it.
Knowing where you are and making data-driven decisions based on great information is the foundation to a successful move to the cloud… and don’t forget the sunscreen.
Jason Hurlbut, Chief Value Officer, Leafs fan, hockey player, skier, mountain biker, proud father/grand-pop Tidal