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Moving to the cloud in three steps

By Subra Suppiah, Country Manager, Avanade Malaysia

Ah, the cloud. Everyone is doing it. Everyone is talking about it. While writing this blog post, I decided to Google the number of recent news articles on cloud strategy within the last 24 hours. Want to read all the articles? Hope you have nothing else on your schedule today or recently completed a speed reading course because a quick count revealed approximately 250 articles. Cloud is a key enabler of any digital transformation, and companies realise they need a hybrid cloud strategy to bring together the applications and information they want to access in the public cloud with the data and knowledge that reside in private clouds and other systems. To put it bluntly – hybrid cloud is hot.

According to global survey results released in December 2014 by Avanade, more than 80 per cent of Malaysian businesses believe hybrid cloud should be one of the biggest areas of focus for their company next year. The study of 1,000 global C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision-makers in 21 countries shows that Malaysian executive optimism has turned the spotlight on hybrid cloud as a focus area in 2015, despite much confusion about what exactly hybrid cloud means and what is required to prepare an organisation for hybrid cloud implementation. It also reveals that 96 per cent of respondents strongly agree that hybrid cloud will enable their companies to focus on issues that are core to the growth of the business, compared to only 74 per cent which is the global average.

Malaysian companies are investing in hybrid cloud solutions at a faster rate than private or public cloud, with more than half of the companies’ applications and services to be deployed on hybrid cloud environments within an average of one and half years, according to the study. This adoption rate calls for three quick steps that enterprises need to consider when making this move:

  1. The Need for a Complete Cloud Strategy

The journey to cloud is like building a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Imagine a tranquil scene with a few horses, some mountains in the background and a big cloudy sky. In the beginning you start with the easy pieces to connect, most likely the horses. After finding the easiest pieces, then it’s on to the next level, probably the mountains with trees at the lower elevation and snowcap mountain tops comes next. Now, it’s time to assemble the cloud pieces in the sky. All the pieces look similar and the level of difficultly and time increases significantly and we wonder why we decided to do this in the first place.

Okay, so you may be asking “how does a puzzle relate to companies moving to the cloud?” The answer is, in many ways. Experimenting and testing non-critical applications on cloud is the easy step, much like assembling the horses in our puzzle. As you begin to look at moving business applications to the cloud, the level of effort increases. But just moving applications and infrastructure to the cloud is not a transformational strategy for IT, nor is it one that provides the enterprise the ability to fully exploit the speed, scale and efficiency of the cloud. You need to ensure you have all the right pieces to complete your cloud puzzle.

  1. Do you have the right pieces?

How does the enterprise implement a cloud strategy? One example is operating unified communications and collaboration (UCC) capabilities in the cloud. Many enterprises are looking to move UCC to the cloud by adopting Microsoft Office 365. Some enterprises try to make this move via a “forklift” approach to the cloud. But without a holistic perspective, this approach can fail.

Office 365 is a robust environment for communications and collaboration as well as data analytics. Email, presence, instant messaging, unified communications and big data work together in new ways that enable new ways to work. But their integration isn’t automatic in today’s hybrid world—especially not with an enterprise’s existing backend systems. Companies that address the integration challenge incorrectly or incompletely risk business disruptions. A cloud transformation strategy should take legacy applications into account. And it should continue with a strategy for continuing maintenance and management.

This is a lot for most IT departments to manage, especially as they face their first cloud projects and juggle all of their other responsibilities at the same time. And they know it. That’s why enterprises are increasingly turning to partners with cloud experience to help them; the percentage doing so doubled to 41% between 2012 and 2013. And the percentage that uses a partner to integrate cloud and on-premises services increased by 65% over that same time, according to Forrester.

Companies that engage partners for their cloud transformations and managed services are doing so to gain the benefits of the cloud more quickly, mitigate risk and support critical operations. Forward-thinking companies are relying on partners to help them drive innovation and entirely new ways to work. They are reshaping the value of IT by evolving to an IT services broker model. With this approach, they shift from being the provider of IT services to being a services broker or enabler of cloud and managed services. That is, they’re engaging partners to implement the two-speed approach to IT.

  1. Taking a Two-Speed IT Approach

IT Without Boundaries, an innovative vision by Avanade explains the transformational approach for IT, which we call two-speed IT – fast to deliver innovation and slower to maintain and support legacy systems. Central to the two-speed IT approach is cloud computing. The cloud enables faster innovation as well as operations.

The reality is that achieving this two-speed IT strategy is pulling enterprise IT in two different directions. This is because the resources, skills and tools required are very different; with speed of innovation requiring agile, fast, just-good-enough techniques to explore, adopt and adapt to new opportunities. While the slower approach to legacy systems requires a greater emphasis on safety and accuracy.

It’s clear that cloud computing continues to disrupt and transform the way organisations work in the digital world. We believe that with improvements in security and privacy over the last three years, hybrid cloud is now poised to move from hype to reality, offering companies a competitive advantage that better positions their organisations to grow in the future.


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