Cloudy skies in black and white
Everyone has heard of cloud services, some even know what they are, and almost everyone has a fairly strong opinion about them. Opinions seem to be very divided on cloud services.
Some experts are very sceptical about the cloud. It is considered vague and, above all, unreliable in many respects. Cloud services are ‘out there somewhere’, are operated and processed by ‘whoever’, and are vulnerable to network connections being down. Many organisations question whether key services can be moved to the cloud, while others still ban the use of cloud services altogether. This approach can be regarded as an unwritten “no cloud” strategy.
The other extreme is made up of cloud groupies. The cloud is viewed as an attractive, all-purpose technology to which all services should be moved immediately, and then only used from there. This ‘cloud technology groupie’ line is equivalent to an undocumented and unaccepted ‘cloud only’ strategy.
Because these two very opposing views often clash in the same organisation, the latter should outline its approach to cloud services — a documented, carefully considered and widely accepted cloud vision and cloud strategy are needed.
A cloud or just hot air?
When discussing cloud services, the first problem tends to be that different people have different views of what cloud services are. For some, ‘cloud’ means ‘anything to do with IT from outside our data centre.’ Many are beginning to take a strong stand on whether AWS virtual platforms or development tools are better than MS Azure. Some recall that systems are perhaps being acquired on an SaaS basis.
When developing a cloud service policy, it is a good idea to take a stand on cloud services — well-established and highly productised cloud services with large customer bases, which are highly adaptable to customer needs without prior commissioning. Not every virtual platform run by a supplier is a cloud service.
Discussions about cloud services are often limited to cloud platforms. However, the Finnish public administration’s cloud guidelines include the sound principle of having a cloud policy that covers all cloud operating models — IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service). Good cloud policies cover all of these.
From black and white to shades of grey — the smart approach
Cloud services are here to stay. Ruling them out recalls the negative attitude of gaslight experts to electricity — it won’t work and it’s probably dangerous. For example, off-the-shelf software has moved, or is actively moving, almost exclusively to the cloud. In practice, new software of this type is no longer being developed for setup by the customer. Over the next few years, it may even become difficult to find locally installed software that meets operational needs. So the issue is no longer whether or not to use cloud services, but how to use them securely and benefit from them.
It is time to let go of the ‘all or nothing’ attitude to cloud services. Cloud service users now adopt the so-called Cloud Smart approach, assessing the suitability of cloud services on a case-by-case basis. Most services can be moved to the cloud, but some cannot due to regulations or the need for continuity.
A cloud strategy and detailed development path in support of change
Define your organisation’s very own strategy for benefiting from cloud services. Draw up an overview of all the ways in which your organisation can leverage cloud services. On what grounds and based on what policies will cloud services be bought or developed, and with what aims? Explore all cloud service models (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and BPaaS) and the entire cloud solution life cycle.
A cloud vision and strategy will provide an excellent, jointly agreed main model for leveraging cloud services in your organisation. However, you will need more than a strategy to realise the benefits of cloud services. Draw up a systematic, comprehensive and measurable roadmap for developing cloud service capabilities (expertise, technology, management models, instructions and procurement procedures).
Be bold, document the process in detail, accept and commit.
Do you want to get the most out of cloud services?
Take a step towards your goal by signing up for our free GTalks webinar “Good basics of Cloud“ 11.3.2021 (11:00 to 12:30 EET).