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As organizations continue their cloud migration, across all three layers of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, the majority have not been able to achieve a corresponding reduction in on-premises workloads. Coupled with a proliferating and highly heterogeneous multicloud environment, businesses are becoming overwhelmed by issues of management, compliance, integration, and security, and are therefore failing to realize both business and IT benefits of their cloud migration.

In a previous Straight Talk article, "Reinventing IT complexity in the cloud," we described how these and other factors are causing organizations to replicate the complexity of their on-premises systems in the cloud. While this is clearly holding them back from achieving a simpler IT environment, and progressing business initiatives such as digital transformation that they seek to build on that foundation, there is also a real concern that cloud complexity is introducing a whole new set of problems, both technical and administrative, that organizations must tackle.

Ironically, some of the administrative issues arise from methodologies such as agile and devops that are designed to streamline the development and deployment of new solutions. The problem is that this often sees multiple, disconnected teams in different parts of a business deploying to different environments (whether cloud or on-premises), and exacerbating the issue of proliferation. Security and compliance are also challenges that are magnified by this multiplicity of different environments, making it significantly more difficult to apply common security policies and compliance controls across an organization's business footprint. A common example of the technology problems that ensue is the challenge of integrating data, processes, and applications, which also becomes more complex as poorly managed and architected endpoints increase in number.

It is essential that businesses tackle this complexity even if, initially, this may appear to apply something of a brake to their cloud progress. For the majority, the first step will be to undertake a discovery process to build an inventory of cloud workloads, environments, and usage. Then they must apply a consistent cloud architecture and policy that considers common parameters including security, compliance, cost, portability, and manageability. This should be coupled with a transparent governance process that considers each cloud decision from both a business and a technology perspective.

It is only when both aspects are considered together that an optimal decision can be made and course of action set. Does a new differentiated capability need to be brought to market quickly? What will be the impact of a cloud application rollout? How much business change is involved in migrating an existing solution? Will there be increased efficiency from consolidating multiple platforms?

This also implies that cloud governance (as a discipline that also relates to cloud architecture, management, and security) requires a wide set of inputs across the organization. Cloud decision-making can no more be the sole remit of a line-of-business entity than it can of the IT function, and the sooner this philosophy becomes embedded, the sooner the complexity challenge can be tackled head-on.

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