Moving to the cloud? Better get organised first!

by Paul Gysen - Cloud & IM Consulting Lead | minutes read

Assessing your cloud maturity could very well lead you to assess other aspects of your cloud transition. An assessment which may prove to be just as essential, for instance, is that of the organisational changes that are required to make your journey to the cloud – as well as inside it - a resounding success.

As I’ve explained in a a previous blog post, assessing your cloud maturity not only brings you a better understanding of the obvious technological challenges that come with leveraging cloud resources. It also raises awareness of some less obvious organisational, methodological and cultural changes that are essential prerequisites for success. These changes, it goes without saying, need to be managed too. And they need to be managed well, if your move to the cloud is to be successful at all.

IT skills transformation

In my previous blog post I’ve already briefly touched upon one such organisational shift: the changing relationship between business and IT. Or rather: between your software developers, who ought to be as closely integrated with the business as possible, and the rest of your IT staff. If you move your business to the cloud, both your IT development team and your IT operations team will need to confront their changing and growing responsibilities. More particularly, an important shift in skills and knowledge will be required from your IT department as a whole.

Traditionally, software developers used to lean rather heavily on their colleagues from IT operations to provide them with the infrastructure they required for the different steps or consecutive phases in their development process. As a result, they found themselves waiting for those colleagues to build respectively a development environment, a test environment, an acceptance environment and a production environment. This old-fashioned approach to resources provisioning is very time-consuming and features long development life cycle iterations. In other words: it tends to slow the whole development and release management process down considerably.

With the advent of Agile, a cyclic and iterative rather than linear and sequential methodology, all this has changed. Instead of providing their colleagues in the development team time and again with the infrastructure they require, the operations team now arms them with all the necessary tools to actually provision themselves, drawing resources from the cloud whenever needed. A new test or acceptance environment is now literally only a couple of clicks away. The potential business benefit of this new IT approach is clear: speeding up your development cycle also allows you to shorten your time to market. The caveat that arises then, of course, is securing the resources consumption with a dedicated governance.

Shifting responsibilities

For this new IT approach to really work, your development team and your operations team need to accept or, better yet, embrace an important shift in their responsibilities. This is where another interesting new concept like DevOps comes into play. It incorporates Agile principles and practices, such as increased automation, put in place by your operations team for the benefit of their developer colleagues, as well as improved autonomy for your development team. And it is precisely because your developers are more empowered now with automation tools implemented by their colleagues from operations, that the development life cycle tends to be shorter.

All the above points, yet again, to the importance of taking into account the organisational impact of moving to the cloud and framing it within your cloud strategy and governance. Cloud migration can have a profound effect on the roles within your organisation and, more specifically, within your IT department. Also, finding yourself suddenly lacking in the necessary skills or knowledge to put the cloud to good use for your business, you may feel forced to hire new profiles and/or (re)train your existing staff at quick notice. Which is never a good position to find yourself in as a business owner or a manager, as I am sure we can all agree on.

With our Cloud Governance & Organisation Service, we can help you assess your organisational needs and readiness for cloud migration. This consulting service also includes drawing up a steering plan for a successful cloud journey. Contact me or my colleagues for more information.

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