Clouds - Dec 16, 2021

How to make the cloud transformation a success.

There are still far too many IT managers who think they’ll be able to oversee a cloud transformation without too many difficulties and without professional project management. However, history shows that transforming an on-premise IT landscape into a cloud-based IT architecture is an incredibly complex process that tends to be fraught with risk.

written by

Team Leader Network & Security Engineers – CC-BISS

E-Mail: hans-juergen.martini@bechtle.com

Cloud transformation – Make the right decisions up front.

Is it worth companies making the switch to the cloud? According to Statista, 76% of cloud users view cloud solutions as a valuable investment they couldn’t do without. In this blog, you’ll discover what you need to consider when it comes to digitalisation in cloud projects, why so many of these projects aren’t put into practice without blowing the budget and to everyone’s satisfaction, and what the drivers and challenges of these digitalisation projects are.

Driving digitalisation.

Our society and workforce, the economy and business as well as our company are changing at an ever-faster rate, becoming more international, more complex and more multifaceted. Many of the discussions today revolve around demographic change and the lack of skilled workers, changes in business areas, new technologies and the future of work and relate in some way or other to diversity. We need new approaches and examples to find ways to tackle these challenges. Digitalisation and, in its broadest sense, the private, public and hybrid clouds are approaches that can help businesses transform themselves.

The cloud – Private, public, hybrid.

Cloud business was something that, a few years ago, was laughed at and seen sceptically by many SMEs, but is now being embraced by them, driven by marketing and development departments. On top of the now extensive portfolio of business applications, companies view the cloud as a solution to their many problems. The central motives behind using the cloud such as cost savings, greater agility, faster project rollouts and staff savings are what every manager look for.

The most commonly expected effects of a cloud implementation are an enhanced user experience for the customers and other interested parties as well as the standardisation and integration of technological landscapes across the company. Moving workloads from the private cloud into the public cloud is one of the top aims of corporate management and, but by bringing legacy systems and the cloud under one umbrella (hybrid cloud), IT departments are being put under enormous pressure and are facing the biggest challenge of the last 20 years.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

If we look at typical corporate IT architectures from days gone by, we tend to find on-premise IT infrastructures with locally configured networks, server systems and security components such as firewalls, mail and spam or URL filters. Corporate server virtualisation has also come on leaps and bounds in the last 10-15 years and many SMEs are already 90% virtualised.

As a result of the ever-presence threat of cyber criminality, high priority is given to expanding and developing IT security. The arduous battle with, for example, phishing attacks is becoming day-to-day business for IT, placing an incredible burden on the shoulders of the department’s staff. Bolstering defence mechanisms against ransomware, network trojans and other types of malware that are able to launch targeted attacks to paralyse entire networks for long periods of time keeps in-house IT staff so busy that they find it increasingly difficult to implement new projects on their own. Against the backdrop of a lack of skilled workforce and the need for information security, cloud solutions have to relieve the strain on IT departments. And yet, at many businesses, an array of applications and security systems are run on-premise and the data generated remain in the own data centre,

It’s not just the cloud transformation trend IT managers are following, but also that of modernise their wide-area networks (WAN). This means they are turning their backs on organically grown, rigid and expensive-to-run network technologies such as IPSec and/or MPLS, favouring flexible, agile architectures that are much easier to operate—such as a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).

The result of all these efforts is that decision makers believe that cloud projects can be realised more quickly because cloud services can be easily and reliable integrated in the shortest possible time. To this end, entire IT teams are working at their absolute limits to introduce the cloud and no longer have time for their every day business.

Cloud project challenges.

Driven by advancing digitalisation and the merging of private and public clouds, we are seeing a massive increase in the complexity of current cloud projects. This “new technology” is challenging enough, but various sectors of the company, stakeholders, external businesses and partners also have to suitably coordinated.

Cloud solutions are often stand alone and are usually developed and introduced as part of a new application (web, app, IoT) and therefore usually carried out “on the side”, meaning that exact requirements for the cloud infrastructure aren’t always known in advance. The result is not really understanding the tasks at hand and ending up at a dead end.

This ultimately leads to spontaneous that have not been though through properly, unnecessary costs, annoyed partners and suppliers and stress for the in-house IT department and the IT and support partners involved. It’s not uncommon then for IT managers to be summoned to explain themselves to top management.

For this reason, every company has to be well prepared to run its own cloud strategy within an optimal framework, which is why project management is essential for the success of a cloud project. Documenting project objectives and requirements is also as much part and parcel of project management as structuring the project and managing the schedule and budget. Experienced project managers and the right project methods can be decisive in determining if a project is a success or not.

Dynamic complexity = Failed projects.

The reasons for failed projects are repeated in numerous publications and range from communication problems and a lack of experienced employees to not sticking to the schedule. However, these are but a symptom of much deeper issues including dynamic complexity that is borne from a system’s properties (delays, feedback relationships, cumulations, non-linearities). Dynamic complexity is fundamentally different from detail complexity.

Due to the special conditions surrounding them, cloud projects are often classified under dynamic complexity and the best way of optimising projects is by managing this. The methods required to do so, however, tend to be unknown in most It departments and must first be established by professional project managers. Only in this way can cloud projects and the digital transformation of businesses be a success.

Business and IT security architects.

Without some careful planning, businesses can take considerable risks when it comes to the cloud transformation. Simple access to cloud services frequently means that many companies completely underestimate the complexity of cloud projects and overestimate their own capabilities.

In all respects, migrating to the cloud is completely different to a traditional, typical IT infrastructure project and your standard IT departments often find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water. Furthermore, SMEs don’t have the necessary personnel or knowledge to be able to design and implement their own cloud migration by themselves.

Don’t hand over all responsibility for availability, security and data protection to providers as not all cloud services out there are as reliable, available or secure as they’d have you believe. You need business and/or IT security architects who are able to see the entire project from different perspectives and yet keep the points mentioned above in mind.

Cloud roadmap.

The road to the cloud is not always as smooth as many businesses think, which is why we recommend putting together a cloud roadmap to guide your project strategy, which serves as a blueprint describing the individual milestones and objectives of our digitalisation project.

  • For example, develop an overall cloud concept and prevent uncontrolled growth and shadow IT, and identify security risks and vulnerabilities at an early stage.
  • Prep work such as the creation of a Statement of Work or catalogue of requirements and an upstream proof of concept are necessary to significantly minimise the risk of failure.
  • Don’t scrimp on the planning and don’t neglect either the technological or the organisational dependencies.

More information on IT security roadmaps can be found here: bechtle.com/de-en/about-bechtle/news/bechtle-blog

Our experts are happy to support you in your cloud projects. If you’re looking to start your own cloud journey, feel free to get in touch!

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Published on Dec 16, 2021.