Successful cloud strategies need business drivers

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Naseem Ahmed, cloud enablement practice lead at Synthesis.
Naseem Ahmed, cloud enablement practice lead at Synthesis.

Although much of the cloud migration taking place in South Africa is being driven by IT, cloud journeys need to be informed by business goals in the longer term.

This emerged during an executive round table on cloud adoption hosted by Synthesis in partnership with AWS this week.

Naseem Ahmed, cloud enablement practice lead at Synthesis, said organisations were already moving to the cloud, but often in a way that was not coordinated and strategic.

 “What we are seeing is there are business units with certain requirements and a lack of the necessary infrastructure, so they create a cloud account, deploy an application and their goal is achieved," Ahmed said. "Because of their success, more teams want in on this phenomenon, and this is where your problem starts."

How are you going to separate workloads, allocate the costs associated with this infrastructure, control permissions in this environment, and put controls in place to ensure you know what is happening within these environments?

“In your on-premise environment, you have spent years fine tuning policies, procedures and governance, but what works for on-premise does not always work in the cloud. So we need to take a step back and start the process with the correct thinking, asking: why are we going on this journey?”

Ahmed said common business drivers included cost reduction, agility and productivity, security and operational resilience, hardware/software end of life, data centre consolidation, digital transformation, going global, or new technologies such as AI/ML and IOT. “The decision has to be taken at the highest level of the organisation. If the business reason for why is not known, how will you assess the success of the move?” 

Alexander Lozhechkin, senior manager, Partner Solutions Architecture at AWS EMEA.
Alexander Lozhechkin, senior manager, Partner Solutions Architecture at AWS EMEA.

He  noted that cloud adoption should ideally be piecemeal. “You cannot boil the ocean. You need to migrate individual workloads, and start building the processes and governance, skills and training required. Cloud adoption will impact many people within the organisation. On this journey, ideally you’d like to go with a partner such as Synthesis, who are positioned to help organisations prepare and migrate to the cloud.”

Alexander Lozhechkin, senior manager, partner solutions architecture at AWS in the EMEA region, echoed these views. He noted: “The conversation in EMEA has moved from whether to move or why to move to cloud, to how to move to cloud. People are asking: how can we move to the cloud tomorrow? However, there is no easy answer – it takes effort, and there are many aspects that attention must be paid to.”

Lozhechkin said the number one priority should be commitment from business leaders - to tie the move to business outcomes and objectives. “Cloud is not about IT transformation, but business transformation. If the leaders are not aligned, it will be a painful process,” he said.

He also advised that organisations start with easy workloads, to reinforce the benefits of the cloud, and to work to close any skills gaps. “Partners are critical for this journey to quickly cover the skills gap – it allows you to ‘borrow’ expertise while you upskill your staff.”

Participants in the round table noted that in many local organisations, business leaders did not fully understand the cloud, and that IT remained the driver of cloud migrations. They also pointed out that many mission critical applications in South Africa were still bandwidth-heavy legacy applications, which made the cloud unsuitable for many of them.

Ahmed and Lozhechkin said not all workloads were suited to the cloud, but said every organisation could benefit from starting the journey and moving at least some workloads to the cloud.

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