Embarking on the cloud journey | Deloitte Netherlands

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Embarking on the cloud journey: The challenges ahead

Part 2: A guide through your cloud transition journey

The cloud can be a critical element of an organization’s competitiveness, but the journey to cloud transition is full of technological and strategic challenges. In this blog series, we guide you seamlessly through them. This episode is about getting started. What challenges do you face?

Migrating your IT landscape to the cloud offers many benefits, including cost savings, flexibility and faster innovation. However, it’s not an easy process, as most of the CIOs we interviewed made clear. As we mentioned in our previous blog, they clearly see the potential of cloud computing and know that it is here to stay.

"We see the cloud as an opportunity for our business, but we don’t have a cloud-specific strategy, and our current business model does not afford us the opportunity to make the shift to the cloud," said one CIO. While highlighting their “cloud-first” or “cloud-only” strategy, others indicated that the main challenge is to translate this into a detailed plan for the different parts of the IT landscape and thereby to define a roadmap with specific milestones.

Given the low percentage of the IT landscape that has already migrated to the cloud, most organizations obviously have a long way to go. Another CIO said: “The percentage of our applications working in the cloud is very small. We have hundreds of Windows applications that all run in our own data centre. We use a public cloud to build new applications, but that is only 1% of our total landscape.”

How to proceed from here? Most organizations we spoke with have already taken the first important step of embarking on the cloud journey. They understand why the cloud matters and its potential, but have they considered the main challenges and how can they be met?

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Not just another data centre

Deployment into the cloud is very different from a traditional in-house or outsourcing approach. Challenges arise when organizations treat the cloud as just another data centre, especially when their cloud deployment is large-scale. To overcome such challenges, an organization must adapt its operating model to the realities of cloud management. This adaptation process affects not only IT-related processes but also compliance and cost management. To fully benefit from the cloud, your organization needs to change its way of working.

Legacy IT stack

Many large organizations have an extensive array of applications and infrastructures in their IT landscape. The applications tend to differ in their lifecycle phase and their feasibility for cloud migration. Therefore, the corresponding options and roads to the end goals also differ.

One of the CIOs we interviewed said he was concerned about how to integrate an old platform into a public cloud. "Integration between old and new systems is hard; you cannot simply bring all legacy systems that have been running for 30 years into the cloud," said another. "And then there’s the risk of the unknown. Almost daily, new cloud vendors enter the market, which causes uncertainties.” 

Often it is far from straightforward to migrate a legacy IT stack into a modern cloud environment, where it needs to be formatted to an up-to-date standard. It may even be impossible to migrate some applications into the cloud. The optimal end-state is often a mix between retiring, replacing, replatforming and refactoring applications. A clearly defined end-state architectural blueprint enables an organization to set appropriate priorities and make the right choices for each of the IT domains involved in its cloud transition. By tailoring a migration plan, the challenges posed by legacy IT can be overcome.

Cloud security

Originally, the security threat was seen as one of the key barriers to migrating into a public cloud. Most CIOs now realize that the public cloud has all the necessary functionalities to provide secure solutions. However, security is not straightforward and requires careful attention and a sound approach.

An individual’s actions can have a significant negative impact on security, and such actions make it difficult for a CIO to maintain a compliant IT environment. Also, organizations tend to operate in multiple clouds with rapid releases of services. Each released feature is another interface that needs to be secured. The right way to cope with potential security threats is to have proper cloud governance from the onset of the cloud-transition journey.

Different skill sets

Two of the most important challenges highlighted by the IT executives with whom we spoke were to transform the existing organization and to find the right people with the necessary cloud mindset and skills to lead the transformation. "People who really understand cloud services are few and far between. Different skill sets are needed,” one CIO told us, quite rightly. When migrating into the cloud, an organization should clearly focus on how to develop the workforce in terms of new skills and roles within its IT teams.

Engagement and conversion

To overcome the challenges during the initial phase of a cloud-transition journey, an organization needs engagement and convergence. Organizations must enable their internal early adopters to take the first steps. A common approach is to start with applications that are not part of the organization’s core, such as HR and marketing tooling.

After that engagement, organizations need to ensure that the key stakeholders around the cloud transformation have a shared vision about the journey on which they have embarked. By doing so, organizations will be ready to move on to the second phase of the cloud-transition journey: ‘Building what works best’. Read about it in our next blog post.

With our cloud-migration services, Deloitte are helping large corporations to navigate their cloud transition journeys. We understand not only the technological challenges that organizations face but also the implications for finance, regulatory compliance, line of business and more.

Want to know more? Please contact us via the contact details below.

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