In this era of digital innovation, “The Cloud” is revolutionizing the business landscape, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency that can transform traditional business models and lead to a more dynamic and agile computing era. However, with the advantages of cloud come new operational differences that companies need to master to fully unlock the cloud’s potential.

This is the third part of our ongoing series, “The Cloud is Different” where we cover fundamental differences between cloud and on-premises infrastructure. When poorly understood, these differences can prevent cloud programs from fully realizing their potential.

Until now, we have examined these differences from two perspectives:

First, we tackled financial aspects in “Demystifying the Fine Art of Cloud Spend Forecasting”. Then, we looked at architecture in “Choose Wisely amongst the 7 R’s of Cloud Migration Success – or Pay Dearly Later”.

Now, we shift our attention to the operational differences that companies must recognize when migrating to the cloud.

Many companies fail to achieve the promised efficiency of operating in the cloud for the following reasons:

• Lack of high-performance, cost-efficient automation and orchestration systems

• Absence of automated, real-time performance monitoring for cloud resources and robust performance management strategies

• Lack of proactive collaboration with Cloud Service Providers (CSPs)

• Need for a stronger cloud-centric approach and culture that drives appropriate skills, knowledge, and accountability

• Lack of senior leadership sponsorship, buy-in, and support

• Immature governance structure that is misaligned with the company’s overall goals and objectives

We’ll cover each of these in detail below.

1) Automation and Orchestration

Automation is a cornerstone of a successful cloud strategy, playing a key role in boosting efficiency and reliability within cloud environments. It involves using tools to automate repetitive tasks to not only save time and effort but also reduce the potential for human error, leading to increased operational efficiency.

Moreover, the cloud can benefit from automated scaling strategies, which allow organizations to adjust resource allocation in real-time based on demand. This is a catalyst for better system performance and cost-efficiencies.

Automation also enhances security and system reliability because tools can swiftly detect potential threats or system failures, often addressing these issues without the need for direct human intervention. The cloud’s ability to scale resources on-demand is a major advantage, particularly for businesses with fluctuating workloads. To maximize this capability, organizations should design applications and infrastructure with scalability in mind from the very start.

Features like auto-scaling offered by CSPs allow dynamic adjustment of resources based on workload changes, maintaining optimal performance and eliminating overprovisioning. Companies should consider using load balancing and distributed databases to manage increased traffic while maintaining performance and availability.

Automation is fundamental to a robust and modern cloud strategy. It allows companies to streamline their cloud operations and maximize the benefits of their migrations to the cloud, creating an efficient, reliable, and expandable cloud environment.

2) Cloud Monitoring and Performance Management

Cloud environments, by their dynamic nature, can yield performance variations in efficiencies that directly impact user experiences. Consequently, organizations must prioritize optimal performance through continuous, real-time monitoring of their cloud resources and workloads.

Automated monitoring and alert systems can help detect and address performance bottlenecks dynamically. These tools provide critical and proactive insights into system health, usage patterns, and potential issues. They can also assist in understanding the impacts of different workloads and the interdependencies of various cloud resources.

Furthermore, organizations should adopt proactive performance management strategies, including regular performance testing, benchmarking, and establishing performance baselines and thresholds for automated change management. Regular monitoring and performance testing are key to understanding the impact of scalability on system performance and to ensure the infrastructure responds as expected under varying loads. With effective elasticity strategies, companies can maintain high performance and user satisfaction, paying only for the resources they need, when and where they need them.

Continuous monitoring and management of resource utilization is also extremely important. The use of cloud cost management tools, which provide insights into consumption patterns and predictive budgeting, can be valuable. Moreover, organizations should adopt a widespread culture of cost accountability, where all stakeholders understand the financial impact of their usage decisions.

By proactively managing performance, organizations can ensure their applications and services consistently deliver a high-quality user experience. This will boost customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as foster long-term customer relationships.

3) Cloud Service Provider Partnerships

Effective cloud management requires active collaboration with multiple CSPs. Selecting vendors that align with the company’s goals, requirements, and culture remain vital to successful cloud operations.

Robust service provider management must involve diligent monitoring of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to ensure service reliability and uptime. It is crucial that these SLAs are comprehensive, clearly outlining expectations in terms of availability, performance, security, and support response times.

CSP diversification is a sustainable strategy to consider for risk mitigation, although it may complicate operations management and solutions integration. Vendor lock-in can be a concern, and it’s important to negotiate terms that ensure flexibility and facilitate a smooth transition if a vendor change becomes advantageous. Organizations must have contingency plans to swiftly address potential service disruptions or provider-related issues. These might include backup vendors, alternative on-line resources, and strategies to maintain business continuity and minimize downtime.

Moreover, regular vendor performance assessments and open communications are critical to maintaining a productive vendor-client relationship. By mastering vendor management, businesses can achieve high service quality, cost-effectiveness, and gain strategic benefits in the dynamic cloud landscape.

4) Culture and Organization

Switching from traditional IT practices to the cloud necessitates a significant shift in organizational culture. This transition goes beyond technology, requiring changes in processes (i.e., procurement, etc.), skills (i.e., elasticity, etc.), and mindset (i.e., more collaboration, etc.). Teams need to adopt a cloud-centric approach, understanding cloud architectures and design patterns, and adapting to new work methods. All cloud-centric teams working together will benefit from this new approach.

Skills enhancement and knowledge management are crucial. Organizations must invest in continuous learning and training programs to ensure their teams are equipped with the necessary competencies for effective cloud management. Much of this learning can happen organically as teams share best practices, standard configurations, tools, and etc. as part of the new ways of working.

Leadership is key in driving cloud adoption. Senior leaders should communicate the overall vision, align cloud strategies with business objectives, and foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. By addressing these cultural and organizational changes, businesses can successfully transition to a cloud-based model, fully leverage the benefits of cloud technologies, and enjoy efficiencies unheard of in the “on-prem” world!

5) Cloud Governance

As businesses shift from on-premises to cloud-based systems, the importance of strong governance practices comes to the forefront. Cloud governance involves setting a framework of rules for deploying and using cloud services that are aligned with the business’ overall goals. It includes determining access rights to cloud resources, setting policies, and managing usage effectively through security and cost controls, performance tracking, and resource allocation.

A key part of cloud governance is creating a cross-functional “cloud enablement” team from various departments to oversee cloud migrations, manage cloud vendor relationships, and provide leadership and training, etc.

In the shared responsibility model, organizations ensure security within the cloud, while providers secure the cloud infrastructure itself. Neglecting governance can lead to inefficiencies, cost overruns, and/or compliance issues, posing risks for organizations and stakeholders.

With multi-cloud and hybrid environments, governance becomes more complex. It requires integrated platforms and uniform policies tailored to each CSP platform and localized solutions. Third-party tools for multi-cloud management can simplify these processes and controls, improving both visibility and consistent governance.

So, What’s Next?

The cloud has the potential to revolutionize business operations. For companies transitioning from traditional models, effective management of cloud operations presents a new series of challenges – and commensurately tremendous benefits. With thoughtful strategies in place, these hurdles can be navigated and even transformed into opportunities to maximize myriad cloud advantages.

Unlocking the full potential of the cloud demands a strategic, proactive approach to managing its planning and operations. Comprehensively addressing operational aspects – including automation, performance monitoring, CSP management, organizational and cultural change management, and governance – is critical. By doing so, organizations can optimize their cloud operations for enhanced efficiencies, innovation, and risk management.

Embracing the cloud extends beyond mere technical shifts. It signifies a holistic, enterprise-wide transformation that impacts every aspect of an organization – including people, processes, and technologies – for the betterment of the business.

Have a question? Just ask.

Contact a Wavestone expert for help optimizing your CloudOps and unlock the full potential of your cloud enterprise.