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Speed, governance: Yin and Yang of the Cloud world

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

Operating effectively in the hybrid world means making the most of the cloud’s speed and flexibility while ensuring adequate governance is in place.

April 10, 2019

A blog post by Keval Mehta, senior manager; John Neels and Nasser Farimani, specialist masters; and Akash Tayal, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP 

As companies around the world seek to tap the numerous benefits of the public cloud, many find themselves operating in a hybrid environment, with a mix of cloud and legacy technologies. Offering a way to rapidly access the agility, scalability, and cost-efficiency of the public cloud without giving up traditional core systems, the hybrid approach has emerged as a new norm in the enterprise world. By 2023, the hybrid cloud market is expected to grow to $97.64 billion, up from $38.27 billion in 2017. But managing a mix of on-premise and public cloud technologies isn’t typically straightforward. Doing so effectively requires balancing what might be called the yin and yang of modern IT: speed and governance.

Three key challenges

Using a mix of traditional and cloud technologies can present IT organizations with certain challenges. Three are particularly common:

Operating model and tools. In many ways, using public cloud technology is like having an open credit card—it’s relatively quick and easy to buy and begin to use new services. That’s part of the speed advantage of the cloud, but problems can arise when the company’s operating model is not aligned accordingly. For example, when a large financial services company migrated its business-critical applications to the cloud, it established a DevOps team for build and deployment but underestimated the need to enhance, train, and transition to an effective 24/7 global operations team. This resulted in unplanned outages affecting customer satisfaction and experience.

At Pekin Insurance, on the other hand, some proactive planning enabled the insurer to avoid a similar outcome. “In a hybrid environment, it’s critically important to have an operating model and tools that support essential governance and can work seamlessly across both cloud and on-premise platforms,” says Michael Walsh, IT director of enterprise shared services at Pekin, which has adopted the ServiceNow platform for that purpose.

Data integrity and security. Taking advantage of public cloud services requires a paradigm shift in data management and application development. When data must persist across both cloud and legacy systems, for instance, it can no longer be saved in memory or volatile storage, which may be destroyed in an elastic environment like the cloud. “In the hybrid cloud, the focus of security efforts is no longer only on implementing controls around the periphery of the company’s assets, such as with firewalls, but also on building security into the assets themselves,” notes Raj Debroy, Pekin’s director of cloud and digital operation.

Talent. In many cases, IT teams must be equipped with a different mindset and new skills to develop, maintain, and operate applications across multiple environments. For example, as part of a recent cloud initiative, Pekin started retooling its IT organization with new, agile processes and implementing end-to-end integrated tools to support them. To keep its hybrid cloud model working smoothly, the company has undertaken an ongoing effort to get the right focus in organizational communications and achieve better clarity in roles and responsibilities.

Bridging Two Worlds

Speed without governance can create the risk of failed audits, uncontrolled spending, and chaos in the IT organization; governance without speed risks agility, waste, and ineffectiveness. Making the most of the hybrid cloud requires achieving a delicate balance. A few fundamental steps can help:

  • Define and document. Spell out the organization’s cloud strategy and then define and document specific tactical activities needed to coordinate the processes and tools for managing both on-premise and cloud applications.
  • Look beyond silos. Many IT organizations have taken a siloed approach to DevOps, Agile methodologies, and infrastructure operations, but in a hybrid world it’s important to view the entire end-to-end IT organization as one and synchronize the various pieces. Legacy IT service management must also be engaged with cloud efforts to ensure that process and support coverage is adequate.
  • Create a single “pane of glass.” On-premise and cloud technologies are very different from a technology standpoint, but both require many of the same processes, including financial management, demand management, and billing. Third-party service management tools can help implement many of these controls, but most focus on either cloud or on-premise technologies—not both at once. It’s important for IT leaders in hybrid settings to have a single pane of glass for visibility across platforms.
  • Empower the business. Finally, cloud capabilities and a DevOps operating model can better enable IT to engage with the business to deliver new digital and data analytics capabilities. An important step toward maximizing the value of such efforts is making the process as easy, transparent, and well-governed as possible.

Even if the goal is ultimately to create a fully cloud-enabled IT landscape, most organizations will operate in a hybrid environment for at least part of their cloud journeys. When planning, execution, and operation are aligned to balance the yin and yang of speed and governance, the hybrid cloud can pay the richest dividends.

This article first appeared on the Wall Street Journal.

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