The challenges of cloud adoption - can you become agile and maintain momentum whilst remaining secure?

The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report shows cloud computing trends. Although 80% of enterprise organisations choose hybrid for greater flexibility and adapting to change, it does add complexity.

We hosted a roundtable that brought together a group of security architects, IT, network & security operations directors, process & innovation professionals to take a deeper look at:

  • Governance – the protocols organisation should employ for effective operation in a cloud environment, enhance data security, manages risks and run smoothly.
  • Lack of expertise – the impacts and how to overcome them and the benefits of a skilled workforce
  • Cloud migration – the benefits and steps at different stages of the journey
  • Security – the policies, controls, procedures and technologies that protect systems, data and infrastructure
  • Managing cloud spend – Identifying mismanaged resources, eliminating waste, reserving capacity for higher discounts and sizing computer services to scale.

Rela8 Group’s Technology Leaders Club roundtables are held under the Chatham House Rule. Names, organisations and some anecdotes have been withheld to protect privacy.

About Sungard

Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), helps businesses to transform their IT environments, ensuring they are resilient and recoverable. Sungard leverages its experience across a broad range of IT landscapes to align the right workloads with the right infrastructures - hybrid cloud, legacy, or something in between.

It enables customers to streamline and manage complexity, minimise risk and adapt to change, while capitalising on the opportunities that digital transformation offers. With 40 years of disaster recovery experience, Sungard knows how to keep mission-critical operations available for clients, with 70% of Fortune 100 companies relying on it for resilient and recoverable IT.

The challenges of cloud migration

A digital transformation strategy does not negate the uncertainty and slow decision-making that can delay execution and prove costly. Efficiency and security remain major concerns when migrating to new technology. For example, the agile methodology of third party vendors does not necessarily fit with strict governance or highly regulated industries such as the financial sector. Applying security to the supply chain – browsers, integrity checks, web apps and firewalls – is problematic and can be costly. In addition, regional legal differences around data protection can prove difficult for organisations operating within a cloud environment.

Skills shortage

Re-skilling staff is an ongoing process as organisations migrate to new technology. It is hard to keep up with the speed of change and takes time to adapt. The cultural change migrating from a data centre infrastructure to the cloud requires a different mindset.

The architecture function can play a key role in mentoring principal engineers and developers, collaborating across the organisation and nurturing knowledge. Teams need time to learn or train as required and it is helpful to set aside 10% of their time for this.

Employing third parties can be quicker and part of their role is to upskill existing team members. The existing team can upskill in parallel with a partner ecosystem before the legacy supplier team moves away. However, this can leave organisations with a different problem. Once they have additional skills, employees can take this new knowledge elsewhere. Creating uber cloud experts is one thing but holding on to them is another.

Many IT projects that were put on hold during the pandemic are moving again, which has exacerbated the skills shortage/retention problem with some salaries increasing by 50% in six months. On the other hand, the pandemic has eased the skills shortage because geographical locations have become less important, and the skills pool has therefore widened internationally, rather than remaining locally based.

Cloud migration: Using third parties

It can be challenging for an organisation to use a third party for cloud migration, especially within a highly regulated industry. The agile methodology of third party vendors is a big change in culture from waterfall project management. It can also expose a lack of understanding in certain areas, but without utilising a third party the organisation could find itself at a disadvantage, lagging behind competitors, for example.

One of the biggest challenges can come from within the organisation itself. The traditional ways of working for cloud migration are expensive and take a long time with a third party if processes are not changed and adapted in an agile manner.

Cloud security

Having a security strategy in place give teams a protocol to follow. Security champions embedded in each delivery group or development ensures the best security practices are strictly adhered to. Some organisations also have a separate technical security team in place to monitor security champions, making sure they are observing the specified principles, policies, tools and technologies.

Firewalls used to be the perimeter for security purposes, but with the cloud, it is identity, so putting controls in place when users are operating in a multi-cloud environment requires a different mindset. Applying security policies that will review and identify alerts for any deviation is a cost of change and this has to be accepted at board level in an agile manner.

Managing cloud spend

If organisations don’t have the necessary skills to manage their cloud environment successfully in-house, the cost of employing the right people can result in an escalation in cloud spend.

One alternative is to take everything as a service and work with vendors to ensure the organisation is getting the optimum package or subscription based on its needs. Forming a great relationship with a vendor by offering the organisation as a ‘guinea pig’ for new functions can help to keep costs down. Organisations can also look to partner discount programmes to save money, and there may be extra benefits in changing a subscription, such as technical account manager who will work with the organisation to optimise the service.

Transparency at manager level is important because platforms that don’t need to be running at particular times can be shut down. Therefore asking ‘do you need this at this time’ is a simple way to bring costs down, with regular reviews to ensure optimisation. Likewise, the implementation of AI or machine learning wherever possible can also help with cost control and automating processes has the additional benefit of speeding up delivery.

Adapting to change

As organisations migrate to new platforms they face a skills shortage, especially in cloud expertise. Upskilling existing teams takes time, and although there are experts out there, employing them can be costly. Once upskilled, employees may take those skills elsewhere, so it is imperative that organisations can offer the right package to reward and keep them.

Using third parties for cloud migration can speed up the process, but the organisation will need to change process and adapt quickly otherwise their traditional methods will prove slow and costly.

Keeping a check on cloud spend is imperative, as costs can escalate quickly. Organisations can work with vendors to ensure they are optimising subscriptions for their business needs and taking advantage of any discounts offered. In-house, paring things down and implementing Ai for certain processes can have a profound impact on costs.

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