The issues of complexity in enterprise IT are well known. They include underutilized infrastructure, bloated application portfolios, extensive software customization, DIY shadow IT, and impenetrable legacy code. The basic premise of the cloud was that external providers would take on much of the burden created by these issues and enable a step-change in IT delivery. Instead, organizations seem intent on introducing complexity to the cloud environment, rather than taking advantage of the transformational potential to improve both the efficiency and the efficacy of enterprise IT.
Building on the basic principle of providing access to a range of elastic services (both infrastructure and applications) that can be provisioned, released, and billed on demand, today's cloud reality is a mixed hybrid ("on-prem" and "off-prem") and multicloud (multiple provider) environment. This path of evolution is in both cases quite logical, but the way that enterprises approach their cloud strategy is critical.
Hybrid cloud has arisen because the transition to cloud is a progressive one. Some applications are relatively simple to replace or migrate, whereas others are more difficult, either for architectural or for business reasons. Multicloud has evolved because no single provider can offer best-in-class cloud services across all application and infrastructure domains, and because it mitigates the business and technical risk of relying solely on a single partner.
The issues that are challenging enterprise IT functions in their cloud journey are a mix of internal and external factors. Internal factors include the proliferation of cloud service providers within the enterprise environment, failure to develop and retrain IT skillsets for the cloud environment, difficulty in managing business processes spanning multiple cloud providers, and difficulty in predicting and managing the cost of cloud usage. External factors include a lack of portability of cloud workloads between environments, commercial terms that reduce the flexibility of cloud service usage, and the need to match cloud service characteristics to business requirements. The upshot is that many enterprises have as yet migrated only a small proportion of their workloads, are faced with having to integrate cloud and non-cloud workloads, and end up maintaining all of their existing in-house complexity.
We therefore recommend that enterprises develop a business-driven cloud migration strategy that marries the transformation of internal IT delivery with the business benefits of external cloud service adoption. For Ovum clients, The Ovum CloudFit Self-Assessment Model (ENS004-000007) is an ideal starting point for this exercise. The resulting strategy should prioritize a manageable number of strategic cloud service providers and avoid proliferation, and should define an evolutionary path for all workloads, whether that is modernization, migration, or retirement. For many organizations, it will make sense to use systems integrators to take on some of the migration work, but the onus will always be on the enterprise itself to push through this transformation, and to avoid trading one source of complexity for another.
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