Cloud adoption has become increasingly prevalent in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape. Organizations of all sizes are recognizing the benefits of leveraging cloud services, including scalability, resilience, and cost-effectiveness. However, the journey towards successful cloud adoption can be complex and overwhelming, with numerous challenges and pitfalls to navigate.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the five major pitfalls to avoid during cloud adoption and provide practical solutions to overcome them. Drawing on our experience working with various customers across different industries, we have identified these common challenges and developed recommendations to ensure a smooth and successful cloud adoption journey.
Pitfall 1: Applying an Application-Centric View on Cloud Adoption
One common pitfall that organizations encounter during cloud adoption is adopting an application-centric view. Many cloud adopters mistakenly believe that cloud adoption begins and ends with application modernization. While modernizing applications is an essential aspect of cloud adoption, it is crucial to understand that cloud-native encompasses more than just updating applications to adopt specific microservices architecture or Kubernetes/serverless technologies.
Application-centric cloud adoption often leads to individual application teams engineering service dependencies, such as access permissions, CI/CD, metrics collection, and high availability, as embedded features. This approach can result in unexpected costs and create a system that is difficult to maintain and less secure.
Solution: Invest in Platform Engineering to Accelerate Application Cloud Adoption
To avoid the pitfall of an application-centric approach, it is essential to invest in platform engineering. Platform engineering is a relatively new paradigm, particularly applicable to cloud computing. By creating a dedicated team to manage a tailored cloud platform, organizations can remove redundant work and make fundamental design decisions early on in the cloud adoption process.
A robust cloud platform allows application development teams to leverage curated workflows and provision new cloud resources efficiently. It provides scalability, focus, and centralized management of security and operational best practices. This enables application teams to experiment, explore, and deploy onto the cloud safely and efficiently, reducing obstacles and maximizing the benefits of cloud adoption.
Pitfall 2: Perfection as the Enemy of Progress
Another major pitfall to avoid during cloud adoption is the pursuit of perfection. It is common for organizations to delay rolling out applications to the cloud in the quest for building the perfect cloud environment. This approach can lead to significant delays and increased investment in cloud adoption without tangible returns.
While it is crucial to prioritize security and scalability, striving for perfection is unrealistic and can impede progress. The business landscape is constantly evolving, and there is pressure to meet ever-changing market demands. Every delay in cloud adoption means missed opportunities and increased distraction from the ultimate goal.
Solution: Build a Minimally Lovable Platform and Iterate
To overcome the pitfall of perfection, organizations should focus on building a minimally lovable platform with critical guardrails. The platform should enable application adoption and allow for iterative improvements over time. It is essential to keep application development teams engaged by offering frequent releases, demonstrating new features, and soliciting user feedback.
By adopting a mindset of continuous improvement and rapid prototyping, organizations can strike a balance between stability and progress. It is crucial to accept some level of failure and risk to maintain momentum and sustain investment in the cloud platform. By aligning the platform with the organization's goals and regularly reassessing and addressing bottlenecks, organizations can achieve tangible progress in their cloud adoption journey.
Pitfall 3: A Siloed Approach to Cloud Adoption
A siloed approach is another significant pitfall that organizations often face during cloud adoption. Many organizations view cloud adoption as a simple data center migration, neglecting the broader range of cloud services and functionalities available. Transitioning from traditional hardware infrastructure to cloud services requires acquiring new skills and revising roles and responsibilities across various teams and functions.
Solution: Establish a Cloud Centre of Excellence for Cross-Team Collaboration
To overcome the siloed approach, organizations should establish a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCOE). The CCOE should consist of change champions from different functions and teams who will implement and drive cloud adoption rather than solely designing it.
The CCOE serves as a guiding coalition, responsible for setting the cloud adoption roadmap and ensuring its execution. The coalition should include leaders from different hierarchies and functionalities, such as cloud leaders, product owners, financial analysts, organizational change management experts, training teams, cloud architects, security teams, and platform engineers. This cross-functional collaboration ensures that different perspectives are considered, and the cloud platform aligns with the organization's goals and desired benefits.
Pitfall 4: Ineffective KPIs for Cloud Adoption
Not defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with cloud adoption goals is a significant pitfall that organizations should avoid. Many organizations track the number of applications migrated to the cloud as a primary KPI during the migration process. However, this fails to capture the true goals of cloud adoption, such as cost efficiency, high availability, rapid delivery, and application stability.
Solution: Define KPIs that Align with Cloud Adoption Goals
To avoid ineffective KPIs, organizations should define KPIs that directly align with their cloud adoption goals. For example, if the goal of cloud adoption is to improve high availability, relevant KPIs may include application uptime, mean time to recovery after an outage, and the amount of unplanned downtime.
It is crucial to track KPIs that measure progress and indicate whether further investments should be made after applications are migrated to the cloud. While it may be tempting to track numerous KPIs, it is more effective to focus on the main bottleneck and track progress against that goal. This approach allows teams to see momentum and continuously drive the growth and maturation of the cloud platform.
Pitfall 5: Spiraling Out Cloud Costs
One of the most significant risks organizations face during cloud adoption is spiraling cloud costs. Unlike on-premises infrastructure, cloud services operate on a pay-as-you-go model, leading to fluctuating costs based on usage. Estimating and managing cloud costs can be challenging, and projections often do not align with actual expenses without significant effort.
Solution: Allocate Costs Based on Workload and Ownership
To mitigate the risk of spiraling cloud costs, organizations should allocate costs based on workload and ownership. Cloud services charge differently for each service, making it challenging to account for different cost parameters accurately. By implementing metadata tags that align with budget allocations based on lines of business and P&L owners, organizations can effectively allocate costs.
Collaboration with finance and accounting teams is crucial to leverage their expertise in budgeting and allocation. Defining a dual approach of an initial IT budget and a gratuity-based model, where workload owners are charged a percentage to cover shared services costs, can provide transparency and avoid unexpected cost surprises.
Cloud adoption offers numerous benefits, but organizations must navigate common pitfalls to ensure a successful journey. By avoiding an application-centric view, embracing iterative progress, fostering cross-team collaboration, defining effective KPIs, and implementing cost allocation strategies, organizations can overcome the challenges and maximize the benefits of cloud adoption.
Remember, cloud adoption is not just a technical exercise but an opportunity for collaboration and transformation. By adopting a customer-centric approach and leveraging the expertise of various teams and functions, organizations can confidently embark on their cloud adoption journey and thrive in the digital era.