While the majority of large enterprises at least have a plan for or are beginning projects in the cloud, 16% have not initiated utilizing the cloud. At 24%, this number is even higher for midsize and smaller organizations. (source: RightScale State of the Cloud survey). The greater resource constraints that midsize enterprises experience can affect their ability to deploy into and take advantage of cloud resources. In the interview below, Unitas Global Chief Strategy Officer Francesco Paola explains what hurdles stand in the way of midsize enterprises, and how they can take advantage of cloud solutions to gain competitive advantage.
UGBlog: Clearly the transition to the cloud is a challenge for all enterprise businesses. What obstacles are particular to the mid-sized enterprise when making that transition?
Francesco: I’ve been doing this since 2010, so I’ve seen enterprises large and small try to jump into the deep end of public cloud. It was more difficult then, but it’s still challenging today. Complexity of the cloud is one of these major challenges. For example, today AWS has over 50 services an organization can choose to utilize. The problem is with this wealth of capabilities at their disposal, if enterprises don’t have the skill sets, they don’t know where to start. They dip a toe in the water and find they’re spending more than they meant to, or that it’s more difficult to get an app auto-scaled than they thought.
A second challenge is for enterprises who’ve already made the leap to cloud that find they are not getting the touted benefits of the public cloud so they need to optimize, but they don’t understand what to optimize. Do they optimize the services? The spend? The parameters? Having to build that visibility and go back to a governance model that allows them to select the right services at the right price with the right access controls is a challenge.
Speed is another hurdle. Enterprises might not have the right skills in house and can’t keep up with the rate of change with cloud. As new services are deployed by cloud providers, the enterprise may fall behind in trying to keep up.
As public cloud platforms mature, the enterprise has more choices. Choices are good because competition amongst cloud providers drives prices down and makes it more beneficial for the enterprise to move to the public cloud. However midsize enterprises don’t always have the resources to know which public cloud services to take advantage of.
UGBlog: Given their resource constraints, how can midsize enterprise businesses develop a cloud strategy that allows them to be competitive in the market?
Francesco: When it comes to cloud strategy, there’s no one size fits all. Each organization has different needs: in some cases, speed, in other cases, budget.
In some cases, the enterprise is so focused on application development that moving to the cloud is the right approach. What we typically advise customers is: don’t try to boil the ocean. Don’t try to move your entire operation into public in a few months: it will be a disaster.
Start by defining your objectives for why you want to move to public. Identify use cases–with specific metrics–that can prove the model. Develop a pilot: test the services or build uses cases that achieve the metrics you’re looking for. Then that metric can be used to convince others in the organization that this is the right approach. Build a team of cloud advocates outside of your current legacy organization and give them the reins to define this pilot. Let them demonstrate the viability of the public cloud, then have them use this success to evangelize that public cloud is the right way to go for that particular organization.
UGBlog: As midsize enterprises grow, what benefits does the cloud present?
Francesco: The most obvious is the fact that the cloud allows an enterprise to innovate without having to make significant capital investments up front. In the traditional world, you’d buy hardware, software, maintenance; you’d rack and stack the infrastructure and have this wonderful environment, but then you see success and you need to grow, which means you have to buy it all again. Public cloud takes that cost and effort away because you can scale based on demand. You can afford to fail and test in public cloud so you can optimize the services you’re launching. It gives you the sandbox to test what you’re doing and prove with metrics that what you’re doing will work.
Utilizing public cloud enables speed: layering in the public cloud for things like DevOps, you can automate a lot of the steps in your application development which allows you to move much faster. As public cloud providers have matured, they’ve created tools businesses can leverage instead of cobbling together as they’ve had to do in the past.
UGBlog: How does Unitas Global provide benefits to growing midsize enterprises looking to take advantage of cloud?
Francesco: With technology changing so rapidly, midsize enterprises may not have the resources to keep up, so this is where Unitas can help. We know where mistakes will inevitably be made in the transition, we know where governance needs to be established to control cost, we know to enable access controls to ensure security. Unitas has the ability to identify the right applications to migrate to the cloud first so you can demonstrate success and not get bogged down by a quagmire. The last thing an enterprise wants to think about is if they have the right infrastructure, disaster recovery, etc. We can come in and manage that so the enterprise can focus on what they do best: innovate for their customers.
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