Data sprawl, innovation pace or competitor moves could all be tipping points, members of Protocol's Braintrust say.
Good afternoon! We're focused on cloud strategy again in today's Braintrust, and we asked the experts to tell us how they know a cloud strategy needs a further iteration – the signals that tell them an update of some sort is necessary . Questions or comments? Send us a note at email@example.com.
Chief Product Officer at Hitachi Vantara
Organizations are reevaluating cloud strategies when the cost savings promised by the public cloud fail to materialize — or worse, when the cost of their public cloud services rises much higher than anticipated.
Often this happens because leaders blindly deploy or move data to a public cloud without first understanding the data’s true value to their business. Such lack of planning creates distributed copies of data – fueling data sprawl, impeding data control and making security and compliance more burdensome and complex. In these situations, organizations inevitably look for services that can optimize their cloud spending and save money, while still delivering the agility and scale that’s necessary to achieve business results. This starts with transparency of current Cloud SLAs and consideration of downtime, flexibility and performance.
With workloads increasingly earmarked for deployment on private, public and/or hybrid clouds, organizational leaders face enormous pressure to get their cloud strategy right and manage distributed workloads effectively. A dependable, always-on cloud infrastructure that scales to meet changing capacity needs is vital to this effort. But what’s increasingly clear is that IT needs a better way to manage cloud infrastructure, and that today’s CloudOps must involve more than infrastructure, operations and support. Just as self-driving cars proactively detect traffic congestion and reroute without human intervention, we need workloads that self-adjust, with architectures that are practically invisible and touchless. These are the key features of efficient CloudOps and represent a promising new approach for enterprises stuck in an environment of rising public cloud costs and complexity.
Chief Product Officer at DigitalOcean
Most cloud strategies are optimized for one of two outcomes: (1) cost savings or (2) increasing the pace of innovation.
If you aren’t seeing cost savings from your lift and shift initiatives, it might be time to check your assumptions on how much work is required to move your company’s workloads into a cloud environment. It’s very possible the effort required was underestimated and the fundamental ROI calculation was overly optimistic.
If you aren’t seeing a faster pace of innovation from product teams using cloud, it’s often a sign that you have fundamental problems in your product and engineering organization that are only being exacerbated by a move to cloud. You might need to train your team on more modern approaches including agile software development lifecycle and cloud-native technologies and best practices.
Co-Founder and CEO at MinIO
While it may seem counterintuitive, when you truly understand your cloud workload, what it demands, how it behaves — it is likely time to change your strategy as to where it runs.
It is important to remember that the cloud is an operating model, more so than a place. Your cloud strategy is a function of that operating model and, as you mature, you will change how, and where, you run certain workloads.
The public cloud (place intentional) was built on simplicity, elasticity and microservices. It, more so than anything else, taught us the cloud operating model. You go to the cloud to develop the cloud-native mentality — rapidly assembling infrastructure, applications and workflows in the service of a business problem. You go to the public cloud to understand scale. In the public cloud, simple scales, failure domains are kept small and building blocks represent the way things are built. You go to the public cloud to internalize the importance of simplicity. Simple wins in the cloud.
When you have understood these things, you will also understand your workload, its behavior and its requirements. At that point, you alter your strategy and optimize for economics. That often means repatriating that data to the private cloud or changing public cloud providers (and treating them as commodity infrastructure). You still use the cloud operating model — you just alter the strategy and optimization variable. Different workloads are at different points of maturity. It is a constant evaluation. Learn, deploy, optimize. This is the way.
Executive Board Member, Customer Success at SAP
Cloud strategy should never be static as it must continuously evolve. In the SaaS sector, if you wait for the perfect moment to iterate, it’s already too late — the pace of innovation is too fast. Enterprises must embrace innovation and find ways to embed them into connected business practices.
Today, the companies that thrive are the ones that can respond digitally to imperatives many businesses face today: Businesses transformation and continually innovating with the right balance of people, technology and processes; maintaining resiliency in global supply chains; and becoming more sustainable while achieving lasting business outcomes.
Cloud strategy is more than simply migrating applications to the cloud. It’s an opportunity to truly transform into an intelligent, sustainable enterprise through the power of data, networks and partnerships.
By connecting data and business processes to embed sustainability into business functions, enterprises can make sustainable decisions from the boardroom to the shop floor. By connecting to trusted networks to share information, enterprises can commit to accelerating sustainable commerce and creating resilient supply chains that run smoothly and can react flexibly to ever-changing market conditions and customer requirements.
Cloud transformation is a complex journey that requires a strong foundational strategy and thoughtful planning and execution. Simply iterating cloud strategy isn’t sufficient to enable the speed, innovation and ability to pivot on a dime that’s so urgently needed today. To go beyond navigating change and start accelerating sustainable business growth, companies must embrace cloud strategies as an opportunity to truly transform their business.
Founder and CEO at Solo.io
In the past, changes to IT strategy came from the top down and needed to be planned and budgeted a year in advance. But in today’s world of cloud and open source, the tools and economics to make changes are readily available and can be done quickly. They can come from innovative teams at any level of the organization. But what will be the tipping point for those changes?
Did a competitor change their business model by becoming more digital and more agile? Did your business attempt an application change and create a major outage that impacted your customers? Did an acquisition force you to change the way you think about your public cloud partnerships? Or did you finally realize that you’re not in the business of maintaining technology and instead want to focus on higher-value applications? Any of these tipping points can drive a rethinking of your cloud strategy, as well as your broader business strategy.
Today’s innovative companies, both new and existing, are building their cloud strategy around three primary pillars — open-source software, cloud-native application patterns and cloud-native operational models.
Here’s a simple question to ask yourself. “If it’s 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, and your team wants to roll out a new set of application features into production, how confident are you that the business won’t skip a beat?” Companies that have built their cloud strategy on the previously mentioned pillars have strong confidence and do this every week.
Executive Vice President and General Manager, NetApp Public Cloud Services Business Unit at NetApp
Cloud technologies evolve quickly, with more choice and capabilities available than ever. As companies move more business-critical data and applications to the cloud, it’s imperative they continuously progress their cloud strategy and leverage the tools, technologies and services that are built for the cloud to optimize the return on their investment and/or sustain competitive advantage. A comprehensive cloud strategy improves application scalability and performance while reducing costs/risks. If you’re not using a strong strategy, know your competitor is watching. Consider:
- If innovation takes too long: Organizations must be agile and flexible to innovate quickly and differentiate. When new application development or deployments drag on, resources are wasted, and customer experience suffers.
- Add PaaS to your IaaS: Consider how PaaS improves developer productivity and reduces infrastructure administration and cost. Build things that make you different, not the status quo.
- Low code and no code: Today everyone can build or extend applications — give people the ability to innovate with your service.
- Redundancy: If teams across the company are stuck handling menial maintenance tasks or spending valuable resources on infrastructure management, reassess and consider automating processes to focus on more strategic activities. Doing this ensures your infrastructure is optimized and secure and your data is accessible and can provide insights that deliver business value.
- Data Visibility: If infrastructure complexity diminishes your visibility across your on-prem and cloud workloads you can’t understand how/where data is stored or if it’s managed efficiently. Data security and compliance issues, vendor lock-in and added costs can occur.
DevOps Activist at Dynatrace
Digital services define how we bank, manufacture, deliver health care, receive government services and communicate with our friends, families and colleagues. These services are often run in cloud environments, which host a multitude of applications, microservices and softwares — and organizations don’t see digitization stopping anytime soon.
To accommodate the increasing demand of digital services, organizations are turning from a single cloud to dynamic hybrid, multicloud environments. But the thousands of applications consisting of millions of microservices — along with continuous software releases per year — mean these cloud environments are getting more complex. We even ran a DevOps Research Report in October that found that nearly a quarter of DevOps leaders (22%) are under so much pressure to meet the demand of this kind of innovation that it can result in the sacrifice of code quality.
When it comes time for organizations to make the shift to hybrid or multicloud cloud environments, that’s when they really need to rethink cloud strategy. These cloud environments are dynamic and complex, which brings a scale and frequency of change and produces an explosion of data that is beyond human ability to manage. When making this transition, it’s imperative that teams analyze the services, applications and software they’ll be managing to avoid DIY approaches or stitching together multiple observability and analytics tools that require heavy, manual input from the organization’s best talent that isn’t scalable and, as a result, can take time away from innovation and expose organizations to security vulnerabilities.
See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated March 29, 2021).
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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