Don't buy cloud - be cloud

Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Talk to Softcat about cloud
By Nick Barron
Product Manager - Cloud Services

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Cloud. Money saving, efficient, and massively agile, right? Wrong. Done without proper planning, preparation and a whole lot of thought, cloud can end up in huge bills, wasted time and processes that are no more agile than on premise solutions. You're left wondering why you bothered with the huge upheaval, drained bank balance and general unrest that now circulates around the organisation. Sound familiar?


The cloud is expensive.

Or at least, it can be. When organisations are historically comfortable with buying a package and periodically handing over the pounds and pennies for carefully considered and timed upgrades, the shift to pay-as-you-go compute is a major shock. Seeing the money uncontrollably rolling out before their eyes can be a stressful and scary place to be. But surely that's ok – this expenditure is paying for great technological advances and super speedy virtual machines (VMs)... isn't it?

Possibly not. This can all be done on premise – simply moving to the cloud isn't going to speed anything up. Cloud is just someone else's computer, if you treat it in this way.

Why has everyone got their head in the cloud?

Introduced properly and used effectively, cloud can be massively powerful. But as with any IT change initiative, each organisation must think it through - planning and tailoring the cloud approach that's right for them. Simply buying a subscription isn't going to transform anything - other than the way in which you fund your IT investment!

We would always advise any organisation considering cloud to ask what they are trying to achieve. What are the problems and issues you have today? What are your hopes and aspirations for the future? This is very much more about the applications and how they are used than the infrastructure. That application strategy is critical for building a case for cloud - once you understand if, and how, traditional infrastructure is holding you back.

Find your own cloud.

The cry of, 'But my cloud doesn't do what I want it to!' is a familiar one. But not all clouds are the same. And here lies the beauty of migrating to the cloud. By understanding the individual needs and requirements of the organisation, we can tailor a cloud experience which is a perfect fit for them. Just because 'Organisation X' use their cloud in an amazing way doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work the same for 'Organisation Y'. You need to think about operating systems, applications and compute options to ensure you can fully exploit the potential benefits. If you break it down into manageable chunks, cloud may not be the nightmare it initially appears.

Change your culture.

'Cloud' doesn't happen overnight and, despite the marketing hype, simply moving workloads out doesn't really change anything. You don't just 'buy cloud', you 'become cloud', transforming the very culture of the organisation, changing behaviours, updating technical skills, even managing your IT finances in a different way. This can bring huge benefits but you should be prepared to look at everything - especially your applications - in a different way.

It's this culture change that is so important and integral to a successful flight to the cloud. Cloud migration and transformation will fail without a combined commitment to a shared goal. No person or training course can transform single-handedly, and it's a 'DevOps' culture that will radically accelerate the process and ultimately prove the success of transformation. There's also a whole range of concepts to become familiar with for teams to work at the speed that cloud can enable. Agile, Two Pizza Teams, Scrums... these are all terms that need to become part of the daily vocabulary and drive the culture change that is required.

Getting to the cloud

Cloud vendors oversimplify. It's not as easy as just flicking a switch. Cloud won't work for you. Unless you truly understand the specific benefits to the organisation and are prepared to take a considerable leap. But it doesn't have to be a step down into darkness - Softcat are here to help you be the cloud, not just to help you buy it. 

Talk to Softcat about cloud
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