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Perspectives

Cloud complexity hinders some enterprise adoption

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

Issues I see in managing complex, the effective addition of applications (new and old) that will run on public cloud platforms.

May 21, 2018

A blog post by David Linthicum, managing director, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP

There are a few key issues that I see in the market today:

  1. Most enterprise adoption takes place around an existing business problem, with a clear business case. Enterprises do not adopt cloud computing because it’s trendy, they need to solve real problems right out of the gate.
  2. Most enterprise adoption involves existing application migration rather than new application development. Most enterprises that migrate applications try to do so as quickly as possible, and do not focus on “refactoring” applications to make more efficient use of native cloud services.
  3. Most enterprise adoption occurs around existing technology organizations. This includes colocation and managed service providers, as well as brand name enterprise technologies. Indeed, when enterprises talk to me about their cloud needs, they typically have a laundry list of companies they have already selected as part of their path to the cloud. It can be very difficult to get them to think outside those boxes.
  4. Security and governance continue to be afterthoughts. This, despite the fact that security is consistently listed as the number one priority for enterprises as they move to the cloud. Most rely on technology rather than planning to meet their security needs. However, security solutions are often ineffective unless implemented with a great deal of planning.
  5. Cost is not as much of a concern as originally thought. While most enterprises will claim to move to cloud computing for cost efficiency reasons, the reality is that most are moving for shifts in budget. Paying for data center upgrades and expansions each and every year has an impact, and oftentimes deadlines have been set for IT to find other locations to support core IT systems.

The resulting solutions are clouds mixed with traditional systems, mixed with other outsourcing options (e.g., colos and managed services providers). This means enterprise IT must also deal with the resulting rise in complexity.

The enterprise architect in me would suggest that the best solution for enterprises that are already hindered by architectural complexity without the presence of cloud computing is to get their respective “acts together” before they adopt cloud computing. However, the world does not work that way. In the real world, most enterprises would have to do a ton of work over many years to be perfectly ready to move easily to cloud-based platforms.

The root issue is the ability to manage complexity effectively, including the addition of applications (new and old) that will run on public cloud platforms. It’s important to think in terms of replacement, and not additions. Applications that exist on traditional platforms (such as LAMP in the enterprise data center) should be moved in bulk to surrogates in the cloud. Then, after some acceptance testing, those platforms should be decommissioned.

Mistakes that existing enterprises make often involve moving a few applications to the cloud, which create the need to maintain applications that run on public cloud platforms, while still staring at the same hardware in the data center. Nothing changes, other than things get more complex. There’s usually an issue of those one or two applications that are not migrated. Any cost savings made through the use of public cloud-based resources are often quickly gobbled up by the cost and complexity of maintaining one more platform. However, this new platform happens to be within a public cloud service.

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