Narsimha Rao Mannepalli is the Executive Vice President and Head, Cloud & Infrastructure Solutions Service at Infosys.
Today’s business environment, bolstered by emerging technologies, offers numerous opportunities to enterprises. To tap into these opportunities effectively, enterprises must recognise the role of cloud computing as an enabler and hop on to the cloud bandwagon. Once the initial euphoria of electing for cloud transformation subsides, enterprises realise that the cloud journey is involved and must be navigated expertly. Not only should there be a concrete strategy, but a considered and meticulous execution is equally important.
Four key considerations during the execution phase:
1. Start small, finish big
When it comes to the cloud, it makes sense to take a calculated approach, demonstrate small wins, and build on them. The evolving nature of the cloud platform makes it more challenging and mandates enterprises to: • Institute a culture of working with evolving technology and processes as opposed to earlier times when they could immerse themselves in technology as it remained static for a lengthy period.
• Change the mindset from “own everything to govern everything”.
• Bridge disconnect between the operations and development team; DevOps is what can make this possible.
2. Choose the appropriate partner in a multi-vendor situation
Large enterprises opt for multiple service providers during cloud transformation for two key reasons. First, the sheer scale of the IT environment (about 40,000 servers and 10,000 applications) dictates partnering with more than one service provider. Second, enterprises will target both applications and infrastructure related outcomes, which typically are addressed by different kinds of service providers. When choosing partners to help them become cloud-friendly, enterprises must evaluate the unique capabilities that each possesses and assess how it suits their specific needs.
3. Appoint the right internal sponsor
The expected outcomes from the cloud programme have an enormous bearing on the transformation roadmap, including the executive who will champion it internally. For instance, if the enterprise is aiming for agility, DevOps will play a significant enabling role in large-scale transformations, and hence, a business line CIO would be the right choice to drive it. Similarly, for infrastructure-centric transformation, where the expected outcome is to exit the data center and move to the cloud, the infrastructure CIO will be the better choice.
4. Build fences to ensure compliance
Cloud service providers offer many services that can be actively used to drive innovation in the enterprise. However, the introduction of new services cannot deviate from organisational compliance needs. Only appropriate governance controls can ensure compliance. The controls implementation should not create friction for the application development team nor inhibit innovation. The most common approach is to allow consumption through a platform services abstraction layer, built by the platform engineering team. In this way, the complexities of the cloud platform remain hidden to the application team. The enterprise also utilises services of external service providers who have expertise and tools like cloud management platform that alleviates the pain in the implementation of guard rails and controls.
Besides these considerations, enterprises must also watch out for some mistakes that can occur during the execution.
Common mistakes that can ruin the cloud journey:
• The wrong sponsor: Game-changing initiatives such as cloud transformation have much expectation pinned on them, and hence, the person leading these initiatives should have the ability, reach and perspective to handle the responsibility. A sponsor lacking the knowledge and authority is likely to lead to delays, faulty decision-making, ultimately impacting execution.
• No active involvement of the business stakeholder: Usually, there is a business need that drives technology adoption. Therefore, business stakeholders must be engaged actively in developing the programme roadmap, defining KPIs, and during the implementation to ensure that the expected benefits come through. Also, they must be involved in continuously tracking and measuring the program so that it stays on the right course. Without changing the approach, enterprises cannot expect superior returns from cloud programmes.
• A narrow scope of metrics: Properly monitoring the KPIs is essential to get the right picture. To ensure that KPIs are met, an enterprise must ensure metrics for all the dimensions involved to be measured and tracked. Consider recovery time—if the goal is to bring down the time taken substantially, the changes affect technology, standard operating procedures (SOPs) to cater to the cloud, and the skill sets of resources. Any change to lower the turnaround time must consider all the three dimensions—technology, SOP and people.
Enterprises who have woven in these considerations and have taken steps to avoid these common mistakes are the ones already raking in benefits from cloud transformation. Thanks to their success, they can continue investing over the long-term and truly realise the business value that the cloud can deliver.
The author is Executive Vice President and Head, Cloud & Infrastructure Solutions Service at Infosys.