Is analysis paralysis affecting your company’s cloud adoption?

By Keiran Holloway -

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Agility in the cloud

At Rackspace Technology, we're pretty big advocates of the cloud. On a daily basis, we see just how quickly business challenges can be solved with cloud technology. One standout benefit is the ability to remove undifferentiated heavy-lifting activities — such as purchasing and provisioning hardware and software, installing upgrades and patches, provisioning network connectivity, and configuring and maintaining backups. Removing these activities from your to-do list means you can focus your time and effort on value-generating activities that grow your business.

In essence, cloud adoption allows you to do things more quickly than you could when you had to buy your own hardware. We've seen examples where organizations have gone from an idea to a working proof of concept within hours. Historically, using dedicated servers and hardware, this same activity would have taken weeks, if not months. This rapid acceleration allows individuals and teams to go from nothing to something tangible and run a demonstration within the same day. This incredible speed shows the agility the cloud provides.

 

Excessive analysis can stifle cloud adoption

Still, we see some of the largest enterprises — even those that have adopted a cloud-first strategy — getting bogged down and unable to execute. This is generally a result of various rounds of analysis and slow decision-making processes — elements that ultimately don’t add much value to customers. For example:

 

  • New cloud workloads that go through seemingly endless approval processes via unnecessary teams, in order to even start work.
     
  • Customers who, simply because nobody is prepared to sign-off on the change, are reticent to implement non-service-impacting, cost-savings recommendations — even when it would have considerably increased efficiency.
     
  • Businesses that spend more time admiring the problem than taking proactive steps to address recommended changes.

 

On the flip side, however, when change does need to happen, even the largest and slowest-moving enterprises can execute with incredible speed in the cloud. We can look at the recent COVID-19 crisis and observe how quickly entire organizations adapted to working from home, almost overnight. Traditional business has been forced to become more agile. Change is always hard, but now is the time to embrace it.

 

Five ways to embrace cloud adoption and cloud agility

To fully realize the agility the cloud has to offer, I recommend these five best practices:

 

Build out a cloud management office

A cloud management office is a cross-functional team across the organization that’s responsible for transitioning to cloud technologies. It is important to recognize that moving to the cloud requires a cultural shift in addition to process adaptation. To be successful in creating this cultural shift, you must establish close communication with the teams what will be using the technology, and empower those who will be responsible for defining new cloud processes across your organization.

 

Be prepared to make some mistakes along the way

Big companies can learn a lot from start-ups in this respect. When considering implementing a new solution or change, focus on delivering the minimum viable product (MVP). That is to say, the first iteration of an idea doesn't need to be perfect (and in all actuality, it probably won't be). Through the process of getting something out the door, you’re going to learn a lot. You'll learn more by shipping something that’s incomplete than you would by continually analyzing the problem and debating which way to proceed without any execution.

 

But don’t take silly risks

While it’s important to realize that you will make some mistakes, you must still be mindful of the level of risk associated with each decision. If you're at a decision point which is effectively betting the company, then of course it’s worthwhile to speak to a wide range of experts both internally and externally before making a decision. But, realistically, how many decisions are of that magnitude? Remember, just recently the vast majority of companies quickly adopted work-from-home strategies. That's a pretty significant change that, on its own, is unlikely to lead to the demise of a company.

 

Make incremental, reversible changes

In its operational excellence framework, Amazon Web Services (AWS) recommends making incremental, reversible changes to infrastructure. Essentially, trying something new and untested is ok, as long as it’s reversible. For example, if you think a certain feature of your website isn’t working well, you can create a second version and perform a/b split testing to validate which version generates favorable user behavior. Or if you think you can gain deeper customer insights by reviewing visitor trends on your website, you can start capturing data on a big data platform and run it through machine learning models. When you’re done, you can essentially throw away the infrastructure and re-think the original idea with little overall investment.

 

Lean in and speak with specialists in each area

Speaking with external parties can accelerate many of your technology decisions. And once you get an expert opinion, trust it. They've likely seen your situation countless times — and leaning into their advice is likely going to help you avoid common pitfalls along your cloud adoption journey.

And finally, don't delay. Your good idea is worth nothing without execution. At Rackspace Technology, we’re here to help. We have teams of experts ready to advise, design, build, manage and optimize your multicloud environment — so you can embrace cloud agility and grow your business. Get to know our end-to-end multicloud solutions.

 

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