By Lawrence Schwartz
Cloud technology has eased IT complexities and the majority of IT managers and C-level executives would agree that it is a significant innovation for turning on and scaling resources on demand with minimal effort. That said—stating that the cloud is the future can be compared to a Graduate predicting that the future is plastics. While both products have permeated their respective industries and have eased use in many applications, there are many situations where it doesn’t make sense to use those materials as a replacement.
Like most technologies, cloud implementation does not come without unique challenges, and it may not make sense for your business to move applications from on premises. That is why organizations shouldn’t be so quick to discount on premises deployments, keeping all their options open both on premises and cloud and taking into account what is best for their business. In fact, there is a general consensus among IT decision-makers that there is an emerging sweet spot in many IT organizations around a hybrid of on premises and cloud technologies, alleviating pain points that might otherwise arise from going all-in, either way.
The Cloud’s Unique Challenges
For the most part, organizations agree on the benefits of cloud implementation and usage, but many don’t realize the upfront challenges that come along with it until they’re trying to justify additional expenses to the executive team. The first wave of challenges comes in the unanticipated costs of implementation.
In a recent survey conducted by SoftwareONE of 300 C-level executives and IT decision-makers regarding IT spend and usage on premises and in the cloud, it was revealed that unpredictable costs and a lack of transparency are two of the top cloud-related pain points. This was not surprising; especially given the widespread perception that the cloud is cheaper and easier to manage, but clearly comes with its own set of challenges. To mitigate these, a consumption-based shift to the cloud allows organizations to optimize utilization from day one by only moving what is used to the cloud and retiring what isn’t. With a good baseline, budgets that take into account growth can established, enabling organizations to track actual costs against budgets, holding organizations accountable for their budget and spend.
The second wave of challenges associated with cloud implementation and usage pertains to the disconnect between C-level executives and IT decision-makers regarding IT spend. When there is a lack of alignment on the annual budget for cloud—unforeseen costs included—indicates there is a problem before implementation has even begun. In the same survey of C-level executives and IT decision-makers, the C-suite members reported that in 2018, ten percent more of the IT budget was dedicated to cloud than did the IT decision-makers. To avoid misconceptions and miscommunications, it is critical to normalize and consistently track spending across all the cloud providers in your organization. You need to have a granular view down to the resource level and at the same time group resources by business unit to provide a view of spend by business unit. Both the C-Suite and IT decision-makers need to have the same level of visibility and insight into cloud spend.
On Premises Software Remains a Constant
While it’s true that the cloud is the preferred method for storage and database applications, immense amounts of enterprise data remains tucked away on premises. Nearly half of organizations polled plan to either invest more money in on premises or keep their budget the same for the coming year—a telling sign that this technology isn’t being replaced any time soon. When done right, maintaining a presence in both places on a case-by-case basis per application can be the healthiest option for your company’s IT budget. To begin this sorting process, organizations should get a clearer picture of which applications to move to the cloud by executing their ‘Rs’ in order—starting with retire and retain and followed by either rehost, replatform, refactor, or rearchitect depending on the circumstances.
Developing a Well-Oiled Hybrid Machine
The majority of survey respondents made it clear that both on premises and the cloud are equally as time consuming to manage and complex in their pricing agreements. This goes to show that utilizing the two technologies in tandem may very well be the optimal option for your organization. But, what organizations must realize is this process needs to be justified—and planned—early on in the migration process to reap its full benefits, starting with the first R in the process—retire.
Retiring old applications that are rarely used across the organization is a critical aspect and first step of the migration process to a hybrid environment. It seems obvious, but if applications are just wasting away in the system it’s essentially a money drain. Further, organizations must decide which applications can stay on premises—retain—and which must go to the cloud—rehost. This can’t be a game of application roulette—there must be a business justification to back every single decision. Then it’s time to make the leap to the consumption-based approach, where IT professionals will be able to see which applications are getting the most attention and which remain stagnant. The last step to ensure optimization in the hybrid cloud environment is the replatform, refactor, rearchitect phase where companies must take a closer look at the architecture of their applications. This review of application architecture will serve as a learning process for organizations and will ultimately reap the maximum benefits of the cloud.
While cloud technology is not the end-all be-all solution that industry buzz led us to think it would be—it is still a crucial part of IT strategy for most organizations. As the cloud becomes more complex and new challenges arise in terms of its management, it’s important that all stakeholders keep their options open, a hybrid approach with a clear vision in order to realize the highest return on investment.
Lawrence Schwartz is the CMO of SoftwareONE.
Oct2018, Software Magazine