5 ways to optimize your journey to the cloud

When it comes to developing a successful cloud strategy, it pays to think collaboratively. Let this expert advice guide your way.
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David Linthicum, managing director and chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP, and I recently discussed how companies can take a collaborative approach to their cloud journey. The aim is to ensure that it reflects the strategy of the business as a whole, not just the sum of its parts.

Linthicum and I exchanged thoughts on optimizing the cloud for the entire enterprise. Following is a synopsis of our discussion, highlighting the patterns that emerged based on thought-provoking questions posed by Linthicum.

1. Keep an open mindset

With the myriad technologies out there, enterprise leaders often end up getting only a glimpse of some of the options. This increases the chance that they’ll adopt certain technologies for technology’s sake rather than adopting the ones that enable outcomes that matter to the enterprise.

Having an open mind is key here – which is something that the open source community continues to advocate. Open source is not just about software; it is also very much about that culture. Open source is a community where we work with our customers, our partners, and even our competitors. A “not in my backyard” or “my way or the highway” mindset doesn’t work here.

The collaborative, open mindset that defines the open source community is contagious – it influences how the employees think and operate within the enterprise. This serves as a great catalyst to make objective, outcome-based selections when it comes to technology options.

So how do we make technology choices? Decisions should be based on need catalyzed by adoption. There are projects that come up and fail fast, as they should. Of the million projects out there, not all need to see the light of day. Adoption by multiple companies – not just multiple contributors from the same company – means something. Adoption patterns with a collaborative mindset help us zero in on emerging technologies that will make a difference going forward.

[ Create an organizational culture that fosters innovation. Download The IT executive's guide to building open teams. ]

2. Combat the hype

We are going through a bit of reckoning here, with C-level folks and boards of directors looking for the value of cloud computing over the past 15 years – and they are not necessarily finding it everywhere.

A recent Deloitte survey looked at both leaders and followers in this space and found that both groups are spending about the same amount of money, but only the leaders are getting a strong value impact for the business.

[ Also read 3 ways to save on cloud costs in 2023. ]

The answer here is cloud optimization, which is a continuous journey over multiple iterations. The end solution may look quite different from the first iteration. However, the prevalent pattern seems to be to react to the “technology du jour” rather than taking a continuous, purposeful optimization of the architecture. The result? Skepticism around the returns.

So how do you combat the hype? Let’s go back to the ROI that the C-suite is looking for. Establish the metrics for the environment being modernized and ensure there is a baseline to compare results against. As new technologies come into the mix with new paradigms, what gets measured and how it is measured will also shift. Continuous adjustment and observability enable you to project the net benefit of the technology.

In some cases, you may decide the time isn’t right to adopt new technology. But this is a more effective way to architect – with reason – against the hype rather than fall prey to it.

3. Ensure a choice of environments

When it comes to technology, one word that always comes to mind is change. This might mean change with the growth of heterogeneous environments in the datacenter, different cloud environments, and so on. Not all workloads are suited for the same environment, so enterprises need a mix of environments to ensure that each workload is deployed to the environment that is the best fit. Don’t let go of the right to choose the environment that’s most appropriate for any workload.

This isn’t about just having multiple choices. You also need open platforms that enable you to get the benefit of different environments as well as do things in a way that is consistent and that can be reused with the right governance in place.

4. Encourage innovation

In today’s world, enterprises must not only innovate but also continuously fuel innovation. Does your organization have enough people who think in these terms?

Strive to create an environment where such thinking flourishes. Environments that focus on customer outcomes, with the various lines of business and IT coming together with an open voice, are more likely to achieve this. Innovation needs collaboration, so environments that espouse a culture of collaboration are more likely to breed continuous innovation. This also applies to the cloud journey.

5. Be an agent for change

The journey to the cloud is an opportunity for enterprises to implement forward-thinking practices and to be resilient and amenable to change. Apply “what-if” scenarios to architectures and factors that may be beyond your control, such as changing market dynamics, geopolitical climate, pandemic, and mergers and acquisitions.

Logical thinking that goes beyond and across specific physical technology choices will position your enterprise to be more flexible and amenable to change while continuously optimizing your cloud deployments.

What’s next?

Pay close attention to what types of patterns are emerging. These patterns must be deployable in various environments and able to be readily used in various scenarios. This should apply to running code and not just a demo of a product’s functionality. Capabilities that come together with a single-click deployment prove that they are not just paper; they are real. That is how we can all get better.

[ Build application environments for reliability, productivity, and change. Download the eBook, Cloud-native meets hybrid cloud: A strategy guide. ]

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E.G. Nadhan is the Chief Architect and Strategist for North America at Red Hat. He provides thought leadership on various concepts including Cloud, Blockchain, Analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) through multiple channels including industry conferences, executive roundtables as well as customer-specific executive briefing sessions.