Cloud Must be Part of a Digital Transformation Strategy, Not an Infrastructure Consideration Alone
By Sandeep Shilawat, Vice President, Cloud and Edge Computing
Agencies have been transitioning to the cloud for more than a decade. And while some agencies are farther along than others, the benefits of cloud implementations across the federal government are clear. So, too, is the notion that cloud is here to stay. What is less clear is: What’s next?
As agencies examine their overall digital transformation strategies, one thing is clear: cloud is foundational to any digital transformation and not just an infrastructure consideration. Why? Because cloud technology is the enabler and the accelerator for so many high-priority initiatives – whether it is reducing costs while enhancing security or better leveraging tools like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, or real-time analytics.
As agencies factor cloud into their broader digital transformation plans, there are myriad considerations that should come into play. Among them:
- What is your cloud consumption model? Understanding how you are consuming cloud services across your organization today – and how you intend to do so in the future – gives you better perspective into how to ensure you have appropriate resources in place. Without this information, agencies are almost certain to experience two things: 1) sticker shock when their cloud bills arrive; and 2) a mad scramble for the talent necessary to manage and support their cloud efforts.
- What is the use case? Digital transformation managers should also take into account how their organizations will be using the cloud. They need to understand where in the organization they expect cloud use cases to proliferate and where they expect to be more dependent on software-as-a-service tools. Understanding where and for what purpose cloud installations are being used is critical. In the last ten years, the industry has moved away from “lift and shift” cloud migration models, instead embracing migrations for what they are: business process transformations using the cloud.
- What is the migration plan? Once you know where cloud installations are or will be very soon, there needs to be a thoughtful and achievable migration plan in place. The plan should include key milestones and dependencies and should also include a mitigation plan should any unanticipated delays or complications arise. There is a very real “migration bubble” in which cloud costs escalate due to lack of planning. Make sure you don’t find yourself in it!
- Where are the internal roadblocks? This is a big one. Where are the roadblocks to cloud initiatives as part of digital transformation; and what are they? As the old adage goes, you can’t solve a problem until you identify it. So, when it comes to the cloud within your organization, be sure to understand the potential obstacles and how you can anticipate and address them in a way that does not hamper your cloud efforts. Cloud computing is not just a technology change but also a big cultural shift that requires the right organizational mindset.
- Are you adding unnecessary complexity? Hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud environments are ubiquitous. So, too, is the complexity they can create, so managing it is essential. Lack of visibility into cloud assets is a key source of complexity in multi-cloud environments. (Do you have enough visibility into yours?) Digital transformation managers looking to increase their organizations’ use of cloud technology must be careful to, one, not add unnecessary complexity, and two, closely manage and monitor the inevitable complexity that comes with new or modified cloud implementations.
- Do you have sufficient internal talent to manage it appropriately and sustainably? Another big one. No one wants to be dependent on a select group of personnel – or worse, a single resource (i.e., the proverbial single point of failure) – to manage a critical cloud implementation. What opportunities are you missing to transfer knowledge to other staff, broadening their capabilities and professional development? Since the rise of the cloud a decade ago, our industry has been perennially haunted by a dearth of cloud skills – and that problem is only going to persist as cloud becomes the dominant force in organizations’ digital transformation journeys. Ensuring you have the right mix of talent capably managing your cloud implementations removes a tremendous amount of risk.
Understanding your organization’s unique answers to these questions will help ensure that cloud considerations are an effective and integrated element of your digital transformation strategy.
For years, ManTech has been helping federal government clients merge cloud considerations into their digital transformation strategies using our LaunchRAMPTM cloud migration framework and – just as importantly – executing on those plans in ways that enable them to fulfill and advance their critical missions.