December 21, 2022

Article
3 min

Reduce Cloud Complexity Through Solid Strategy

An effective cloud strategy is essential to minimize the drawbacks of sprawling cloud environments.

Jeremy Whiting

By the time organizations realize that their cloud environments are sprawling and unwieldy, it’s usually too late to find a simple solution. 

Addressing cloud complexity is a bit like fixing a house that, as a result of poor planning, has been built on a shaky foundation with poor framing. Sure, it can be done with a lot of time, effort and expense, but everyone would have been a lot better off if there were a solid set of blueprints in the first place. 

When organizations plan their cloud journeys, business and IT leaders should follow these strategy steps to prevent unnecessary complexity.

Identify the Organization’s Desired Business Outcomes

Ideally, organizations will appoint a cloud strategy council to determine what the business wants to achieve with its cloud investments. This is made up of executives and line-of-business stakeholders and run by an enterprise architect. This will define many strategic areas such as Business objectives, Financial considerations and Services Strategy. Most importantly, your company’s cloud strategy will define your cloud principles and inventory at the workload level. 

Cloud principles define where workloads will ultimately reside. Are you a cloud first organization or do you look at the cloud as more of a DR strategy? These cloud principals will guide the implementation arm (Cloud Center of Excellence) as they analyze the workloads and make those determinations. 

For example, a high-end shoemaker may only need the cloud for a little extra availability, while a sneaker giant may want to leverage cloud resources to power superior innovation and agility. Either is a worthy goal, but it’s important to be explicit about which one the organization is pursuing. Note that a cloud strategy council is separate from a cloud center of excellence. The former is in charge of charting an organization’s cloud strategy, while the latter is tasked with implementing it.

Inventory Existing Workloads

Organizations often make the mistake of inventorying their existing physical assets to help determine the projected scope of a new cloud investment. Instead, they should inventory workloads, which provide better information to help them invest effectively in cloud resources.

Start Small to Minimize Issues

Many business leaders (especially those at startups) have adopted an approach that encourages them to “fail fast.” However, it’s important not to fail big. Let’s say an organization’s effort to do a massive lift-and-shift of on-premises resources to the public cloud doesn’t work out for some reason. Its leaders likely will have very little appetite for additional cloud investments for years to come, even if the cloud remains the best solution for the business. By taking a more incremental, workload-by-workload approach, organizations can achieve quick wins and unlock lessons that will be valuable as their cloud environments scale up over time.

Set Realistic Financial Targets

Some organizations expect their cloud moves to both cut costs and improve agility. Yet, in reality, these moves usually achieve only one or the other. If an organization’s primary goal is cost savings, that’s fine. However, it’s unlikely that the business will also build an environment that allows it to modernize its applications and be the first to market with innovations. Likewise, an organization that seeks to optimize agility will usually see its costs go up after a cloud move. That’s a reflection of the increased capabilities of the new environment. It’s also important to note that the move to a financing model that pays for IT as an operating expense does not mean that costs will stay level over time. Vendors may raise costs, and organizations may increase their resource utilization. It pays to plan for these eventualities.

Invest in Talent

There are three ways for organizations to obtain cloud talent: 

  • Hire new employees, although cloud engineers have become difficult to find at any price. 
  • Train existing IT workers to improve their cloud expertise, but this may remove these employees from other important tasks. 
  • For many organizations, the most efficient way to add cloud talent is by turning to a trusted partner such as CDW for services to help to implement a strategy that meets key business objectives and keeps complexity to a minimum. 

For organizations looking to reduce cloud complexity before it becomes a problem, an effective strategy and a trusted partner can be essential to success.

Story by Jeremy Whiting, who has a been in IT for over 25 years, including 15 years with Microsoft working across their services and support organizations in various roles. Jeremy has deep expertise in Azure and on-premises Microsoft and has built out hundreds of Azure environments during his work as a DevOps Lead. As a Distinguished Solution Architect at CDW, he works with customers no matter where they are in their cloud journey. Outside of work, he is kept busy with his family of 7 and enjoys hiking, camping and fishing in the great state of Arizona.