Cloudy with a chance of excellence: Three vital insights for delivering great service from Cloud

From a C-suite perspective, this challenge is very similar to the issue facing a consumer who buys the latest smartphone but doesn’t understand how to use all those fancy apps and that super functionality: they end up treating it like a nicer-looking version of their old 1990s clam feature phone. It is a sobering thought that nearly a third of enterprises don’t have the necessary skills or resources to secure their cloud infrastructure.

Delivering great service actually happens in two stages. First, you need to be clear about what great cloud-based service actually looks like for your organisation. And second, having done so, you need a clear roadmap for getting there – one that avoids all the speed bumps, detours and traffic jams along the way.

From your customer’s perspective, great cloud delivery offers all sorts of benefits but the big three are: agility, scalability and speed to market. Let’s look at them a little more closely:

One: Your cloud infrastructure can effortlessly keep pace with all changes in demand from your customers and clients, evolving rapidly so that it is effectively always state-of-the-art and never out-of-date.

Two: Capacity is always optimised as cloud technology instantly scales up and down to meet those unpredictable spikes and dips in demand. An outage, even momentary, is a cardinal sin in the minds of the modern customer.

Three: The modern customer demands excellence and expects an always-on, 24/7 seamless customer experience. Clients don’t want version 1.0 when everyone else is on 4.0.

Those are the compelling headline benefits, but they have to be earned. The typical cloud journey has a steep learning curve and, for those organisations who grew up in the data-centre era, it requires a huge change of mind-set and a very particular set of skills.

That can sound daunting but investing to create a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE), or working with a cloud managed services (CMS) provider who understands your business, can make all the difference. It will flatten that almost vertical learning curve, accelerate your journey to great cloud service and make it a much more pleasant ride.

Essentially, bringing in proven cloud expertise is the equivalent of parents getting their tech-savvy, digital native kids to show them how to make a TikTok video. The kids grow up with it and understand it innately while happily posting away and keeping up to speed with all the latest app features. They have the whole family at it so teaching you isn’t going to be a problem.

This analogy rings very true in practice. Gartner* estimates that organisations that have done little or no cloud cost optimisation may be overspending by 70% or more, largely by learning on the job what an experienced team, who understand born-in-the-cloud solutions, could easily do for them.

When you get the TikTok dance routine wrong, you just look silly. But getting it wrong as an enterprise can leave you saddled with technical debt, increased risk and a loss of competitiveness as you start to go backwards rather than progressing.

Avoiding typical roadblocks to great cloud service is straightforward, if you know what the potential problems are and how to address or even avoid them. Here are the three classic cloud barriers to delivering great service along with the fixes that will keep you straight.

One - The DIY disaster: Anyone who has ever tried to cut their own hair or rewire their own house knows that the initial sunny optimism of ‘how hard can it be?’ quickly gives way to remorse, regret and an urgent appointment with experts who really know what they are doing. Your in-house IT team has many skills, but cloud is a whole different approach and a different mind-set. Often, the end result of this DIY approach is that you end up with a cloud solution that simply isn’t ready or fit-for-purpose for the workloads it needs to bear.

The Fix: You need cloud native smarts from the outset. True, cloud is about automation, but it also depends upon people, very specialised people. You will need strong leaders, cloud architects, compliance experts, security specialists and cloud engineers that all have hands-on experience of operating in public cloud. The roles are similar in name to the data centre, but the mind-set and the approach is very different. Talk to a fresh thinking provider early on in the process so that they can set you off in the right direction. Getting advice from a cloud professional services and managed services provider who truly understands public cloud from the outset makes delivering and maintaining great client experience much easier in the long run. Even if you’ve made the move and it isn’t delivering on your business case, they should still be able to help you steer the ship back in the right direction.

Two - Don’t know what you don’t know: The business case is approved and you’ve started the cloud journey, however it’s taking ages to get to market and ramping up your overheads in the process – that’s not a good look for a cloud-enabled business. Lack of familiarity with the governance issues could lead to you spending a lot of money later on in costly remediation work. Your cloud operations are cumbersome and you are feeling slow and stiff rather than fast and agile.

The Fix: Work with veterans, not rookies. A CMS team who have a proven track record of success and who have been there and worn the T shirt can help you avoid the pitfalls and get it right first time rather than eighth time.

If they partner with you successfully, focussing on supporting your business outcomes, you can learn from them for as long as you need and you should be able to bring it back in house when you are ready. They will work to make the machines and the code take the strain. Automating your cloud infrastructure deployments and embedding best practice ways of working.

Three - Observability: Designing a cloud infrastructure that has improvised, lashed-up security, is full of holes and flunks its security and regulatory exams can do your organisation more damage than good. And the threats and risks don’t just come in the traditional guise of hackers and black-hat bad actors. The very ease and simplicity of doing business with leading Cloud Service Providers can backfire if your internal protocols and processes are not robust. You need strong policies as well as technical guardrails in place to ensure that the blank canvas of a cloud provider is tailored to how you and your organisation wish to use it, or you could be looking at a major security risk of your own making. Without proper management, the flexibility of a cloud platform can be your own downfall. It is possible to spin up a server that is inadvertently open to the world in literally seconds. Within 15 minutes, you could be looking at a major security risk.

The Fix: Just as you need to keep an eye on that digitally-savvy 10-year-old to stop them maxing out your credit card on every new game release, an expert CMS provider can help you gain that panopticon view of cloud safety, security and cost management. The classic panopticon is a central observation tower that allows guards to keep an eye on everyone all the time. The cloud equivalents are the digital guardrails, which stop people inadvertently causing risks and impacts to your business.

Understand what the required standard security and compliance procedures are, adopt them from the very start, and integrate them into your architecture.

Choosing the right CMS provider is the basis for a powerful partnership that will deliver success. The most experienced and expert CMS teams have already fixed every problem you are likely to encounter and know how to tune your cloud for customer experiences that are optimal rather than just adequate. What’s more, a successful CMS partnership will boost your innovation culture by freeing up your IT team from the tyranny of tickets to working on added value customer experiences.

This forms part of a series of articles written by Deloitte’s Cloud experts to help you get to grips with the opportunities, and some challenges, associated with Cloud Transformation. View the full series of articles here. To find out more about our Cloud Managed Services capabilities please contact a member of the team listed below.

* Source: Gartner 'Your 90-Day Action Plan to Control Public Spend'

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