Today's competitive business environment pushes companies to move more assets into the cloud. Digital technologies demand fast, agile and flexible IT frameworks.
Digital business frameworks demand a fast, agile IT infrastructure. That much is indisputable. But how to reach the promised land of innovation and business disruption is a question that confounds business and IT leaders across industries and entire sectors.
At the center of the equation: "As innovation cycles are compressed and demands on businesses grow, organizations must move beyond legacy and on-premises IT," states Jack Sepple, senior managing director at business and IT consulting firm Accenture. "The opportunity to advance revolves around the cloud."
This requires a major shift in thinking. It's also a journey fraught with challenges, including deciding what applications, services and infrastructure to place in the cloud, and what type of clouds to use for various tasks. Private, hybrid and public clouds have different implications for an enterprise.
"Relatively few companies have the luxury of adopting a greenfield approach, along with cloud-native thinking," says Ranjit Bawa, U.S. technology cloud leader at Deloitte Consulting. For everyone else, "It's important to move beyond a piecemeal approach and develop a clear strategy for migrating to the cloud."
The Challenges of Migrating to the Cloud
Industry studies show that upward of 90 percent of organizations use the cloud in one form or another. But this breadth of adoption doesn't necessarily reflect a depth of adoption. Some companies have four or five enterprise applications in the cloud, and others have dozens or hundreds.
"Most organizations are moving to the cloud in a somewhat haphazard and chaotic way," Bawa says. "They are migrating application by application or business product by business product." The approach is cumbersome, time-consuming and resource intensive. In the end, "Many of these companies find the task overwhelming."
The challenges of migrating to the cloud aren't lost on anyone. For many organizations, it's challenging enough to map business processes and workflows, especially when mainframes and other legacy systems remain in use. But there are also vendor issues to consider, security concerns to address, and overall strategic issues to tackle, including what type of cloud to use.
"It can be a very long and drawn out process, so it's important to consider how best to make the transition to the cloud," Bawa explains. In some cases, an enterprise may want to tackle the process incrementally over months or a couple of years. In other instances, it may want to move operations over to the cloud en masse.
A CIO must examine the issue closely and carefully, Accenture's Sepple advises. A company may still require certain legacy IT systems for internal reasons, or to interact with partners or others in a supply chain. Regulatory issues might also play role in formulating a strategy. Of course, there are also OPEX and CAPEX factors to consider.
"The reality is that almost no organization, other than a cloud-native company, is going to move completely into the cloud anytime soon," he says. "The most progressive companies at present are perhaps 60 percent to 70 percent of the way into the cloud."
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