Should all workloads move to the cloud? No, not so fast!
In the beginning, people believed (and some still do) that migration to the Cloud was the ultimate end goal. Organizations rushed to the Cloud, mindless of the impact on either the organization or traditional IT systems. Organizations moved to the Cloud because it was going to save them money, because it was “cool,” or because they felt they needed to keep up with the demands of the business.
Times have changed. Only one of those options, generally speaking, has proven to be a viable reason to move to the Cloud.
Refactoring every application is not cost effective, particularly those applications that are mission critical and performing as planned. Additionally, mission critical systems are often tied into a spider web of applications and systems of applications that are tightly coupled. Not everything cleanly fits into the Cloud.
The Cloud is also not the appropriate place for all industries. For example, in a hospital setting (specifically in the ER), it might not be appropriate to be dependent upon a Cloud provider to produce immediate imagery for patients when their lives are on the line. In this instance, we should not disrupt the literal and figurative heartbeat of an organization or its clients/patients.
The ROI for the Cloud does not make sense in all circumstances, and the risk(s) can out-weigh the value proposition of re-platforming. Adoption of Cloud technologies should, and must, be deliberate. Developing an intentional strategy is essential to success.
Barriers to Cloud Adoption
As organizations explore uses for the Cloud beyond individual deployments to enterprise-wide applications, barriers to successful adoption emerge. Most organizations have two internal camps: the cloud proponents and the data center “traditionalists.” Cloud proponents push Cloud in all areas of the data center. They have a “cloud-first” mentality; whereas, traditionalists view Cloud as radical, disruptive, and in conflict with their current understanding of the state of their enterprise.
In truth, there is legitimacy to both sides of the equation. There is no disputing the fact that Cloud is a disruptive technology. Normal operational activities, technologies, processes, and procedures need to be modified in order to realize the true value of the Cloud within an enterprise. Harmony between the business owners, IT, and even within IT can become disjointed.
For those systems which are not Cloud-ready, are unable to move to a Cloud environment (such as mainframe and mid-frame systems), or are so tightly coupled across platforms that it would cause undue risk and harm to the enterprise, a Hybrid IT solution is required. A Hybrid IT solution is the natural “normalization” that will occur in mature organizations which have multi-platform environments, latency sensitive applications, or business units that are politically or emotionally adverse to a Cloud solution (IaaS, PaaS).
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Where does the workload belong?
The driving question in the normalization of the state of Cloud is “where does the workload belong in order to offer optimal functionality and service delivery?”
The answer for both the traditionalist and the Cloud proponent is that the transformation process should be evolutionary — not revolutionary. To be more precise, all systems need to evolve for an organization to be competitive, but the timing, type of transformation (rehost, replatform, repurchase, refactor, retire, retain), and appropriate work load placement to the system is critical to its overall success.
A balanced response to cloud adoption and traditional data center infrastructure is to place workloads where they satisfy the demands of the business. Adoption of new technologies such as the Cloud, edge, or micro-data centers in combination with traditional data center infrastructure should be considered in order to place workloads in the right place at the right time for the business.
It is helpful to view the Cloud as another tool in the toolbox for IT to meet the demands of the business.
Control is crucial to thrive in the Cloud.
Timing of the transition to a new digital footprint is extremely important in maintaining the harmony across your business. Mature enterprises are and should be driven by ROI, but that is not the only determining factor for application workload placement. A simple answer for the cloud proponent is not “Cloud first” but Cloud right — move applications to the cloud that make sense for the workload, combined with what makes sense for the business.
Cloud computing offers unparalleled scale, speed, and agility. But, adopting Cloud without a decisive framework for managing Cloud services can, and frequently does, lead to disappointing results.
Incremental steps, versus revolutionary big steps, are essential to harmonizing the business in order to avoid/minimize disruptive technologies that can destabilize the IT environment. In some cases, the technology can adapt, but the people are either unable or unwilling to do so. We must bring all sides forward: both Cloud advocates and traditionalists. This can be good. Conflict is not bad when handled properly, and constraints often produce innovations and results when everyone moves forward together.