When you switch to the cloud, administrative tasks fall away, and you’re left with more room for innovation. It’s the perfect time to introduce or advance agile approaches like DevOps and Scrum and streamline collaboration with the departments. One thing is certain: the cloud cannot succeed unless your own IT department is on board and continuously monitors cloud environments.
Your in-house IT department typically has the best knowledge of the company’s individual business requirements; their input is important both during and after the cloud migration. However, the range of tasks is changing. Instead of routine tasks related to standard solutions, the focus is shifting to new strategies and creating added value for the departments. First and foremost, though, switching to the cloud is about finding a solution to common IT problems, as shown by the “Cloud Migration 2018” study by IDG Research Services. 34% of the 330 IT decision-makers surveyed say they want shorter downtimes, 32% want more security and 28% are looking for greater ease of use. When asked what their biggest challenges were, in addition to security, participants cited a shortage of staff and skills. Finally, many CIOs are concerned about keeping IT running smoothly.
The wave of IT-worker lay-offs that was prophesied in the early days of cloud computing never did come to bepractice. According to a recent IT market study conducted by the Industry association Bitkom, over the last two years, the number of IT jobs available in Germany has more than doubled to 124,000 unfilled positions. So, IT specialists typically don’t have to worry about their jobs when it comes to switching over to cloud concepts. Nonetheless, as with any strategic transition, it is important to get your employees on board – motivation is key for complex migration processes.
As it is, most companies are currently using a combination of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud solutions. In these hybrid environments, IT skills remain as essential as ever. Particularly with public cloud projects, however, it pays to develop a change management strategy in advance, so that all employees know what new, additional and hopefully more creative tasks they’ll be taking on following the migration. This includes training and qualifications upgrading concepts for acquiring the necessary skillsets.
Cloud migration is also a good place to move forward with agile approaches in IT – or get started with agile methods if your company is not already using them. Scrum has meanwhile become established as a best practice method for IT and development projects. It is particularly valuable for companies experiencing a lot of friction between IT and the other departments. With cross-functional teams individually responsible for their own project progress and structured communication between users and IT specialists, collaboration tends to improve greatly. Agility is also the foundation required in order to respond to changing market conditions more quickly and flexibly and meet new requirements much faster. Working with milestones, two to four-week sprints and targeted meetings such as daily stand-ups, reviews and retrospective can help. DevOps, i.e. the connection of software development and software operation, also leads to greater agility. The fusion of these two traditionally separate areas means major efficiency advantages for IT but requires organizational realignment.
In order to ensure that cloud migration goes smoothly and everyone involved stays motivated, the main thing is to get the planning horizon right. This is where mega-projects can be particularly discouraging. So, it’s important to plan clearly delimited, manageable project steps and prioritize tasks intelligently. Experience has shown that, for the first step, it’s best to choose an application that is not business-critical and run through a start-up phase as an example. Regular meetings can then be held to review the “lessons learned”. Based on the knowledge gained during this initial step, it’s safe to plan the next sub-project somewhat bigger, taking advantage of the groundwork already completed.
Just as with any IT project, in order for cloud migration to succeed, it’s important to have the support of the management team. That means that Management has to be willing to make specialists from IT and the other departments available for the project. Their knowledge of the trade, processes and existing systems is crucial for optimally migrating an application to the cloud, estimating the utilization of applications and scheduling resources effectively.
Nothing is more important for successful cloud operation than continuous monitoring. Your staff needs to track and measure all parameters on an ongoing basis. The key is to develop new measuring criteria and processes, because there are major differences between cloud operation and on-premises operation. With on-premises operation, if one department suddenly starts consuming much more service capacity, it’s easy to spot right away, whereas with the cloud, it’s not as transparent. If a department grabs ten servers at once or adds new back-ups in other availability zones, it often isn’t immediately noticeable. Being aware of these issues and keeping an eye on costs is one of the new responsibilities of the company IT department.
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