Enterprise AWS adoption

The challenges of AWS adoption to organisational structures, staffing, skills, processes & practices

As more enterprise scale businesses migrate their workloads to AWS, the size and complexity of the solutions they are trying to manage is growing. Businesses will face a set of new challenges, many that their current organisational structure, staffing, skills, processes and practices will not be set up to handle.

Steve Mactaggart

As more enterprise scale businesses migrate their workloads to AWS, the size and complexity of the solutions they are trying to manage is growing. Businesses will face a set of new challenges, many that their current organisational structure, staffing, skills, processes and practices will not be set up to handle.

Over time, these organisations have responded to their environments by creating structure focused on satisfying the inherent constraints and requirements of running their own infrastructure.

Within traditional environments, the lifecycle for infrastructure is measured in years. There is a constant need to manage risk across all aspects of designing, provisioning, building and running systems. This management requires teams of people who need to be trained, organised and motivated to keep those systems running, often 24hrs a day, against increasing demand from customers both internal and external.

With the broader acceptance of cloud computing, many large organisations are now evaluating a move towards cloud providers, but one of their biggest challenges remains redesigning their current structure, approach and mindset.

For many organisations considering cloud solutions (especially AWS) the initial focus is to: * reduce the expense and complexity of running a data centre * minimise the need to purchase and manage hardware through its lifecycle and * reduce the headcount required to install and maintain these systems.

For savvy organisations, a cloud can be considerably more. The challenge is to take full advantage of these newly flexible infrastructure and service arrangements. Movement towards cloud sytems needs to go further than simple lift-and-shift of physical components to cloud replacements-in-kind, and look not only to the IT systems currently in use, but a full review of the fundamental approach in place to develop and manage these systems.

There are many aspects to cloud computing, and many words have already been written about how to unlock infrastructure for development or application teams to deliver value faster or easier.

In many enterprises, significant investment is made in specialist teams with sophisticated skills to ensure a consistent approach to managing infrastructure that cuts across many different departments. Teams are formed to manage complex networking requirements, ensure security risks are minimised and combined with teams focused on server and storage.

Successful delivery of a transition from large scale, on premise infrastructure to a cloud computing approach, requires a fundamental review and refactor of the way in which both these teams and their infrastructure are constructed, delivered, guided and retired.

The primary constraints of running your own datacenter are rooted in the physical world: the amount of storage you have, the number of CPUs available, power and cooling … all are key factors in providing infrastructure to deliver business value. In the cloud, though, you have significantly greater agility of infrastructure, and while there still are constraints the primary ones no longer reflect the need to manage a fleet of fixed capacity.

If the primary constraint of limited resources was the environment in which the organisation formed its teams, best practices, processes and culture, it goes without saying that when this constraint is elevated the teams, practices, process and culture all need to be reviewed.

Without reviewing their existing organsational structure, current processes and definitions of best practice, organisations who choose to transition to cloud based infrastructure will not be able to fully capitalise on all of the benefits.

For all organisations at the enterprise scale, the size and impact of this review will be challenging for even the most driven executive. The course change of the magnitude a move to cloud computing can have on IT departments needs to be well managed, to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.

There have been many examples of adoption of cloud computing, most of which follow a similar approach.

  • Create a dedicated team that is focused on adopting a cloud-first approach,
  • Empower them to own the entire solution, from concept to execution,
  • Focus them on delivering a small number of production grade services,
  • Support them when they fail (they will),
  • Ensure that they test their assumptions, and communicate what they learn,
  • Provide them sufficient resourcing, training and support,
  • Ask them to challenge the current processes, assumptions and practices.

If you can successfully create an environment in which your current team structures, processes and approaches can be questioned and challenged in an open, honest and measured approach, you will be half way to identifying the path forward to cloud computing success.

By listening to the feedback from your teams, questioning what they find and assessing how you can adopt this feedback into your existing understanding, you will be better armed to structure your teams, approaches, skills and capabilities to manage the changing risks of a cloud migration.

If you are considering this path, and looking for an experienced partner to help you through the journey, please don’t hesitate to contact us!.

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