Four ways to improve the maturity of cloud operations

24 July 2023 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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The use of cloud computing continues to grow in the United Kingdom, but the industry is still far from reaching its full maturity – leaving major benefits untapped. Alex Hammond and Tristan Sifantus from Airwalk Reply outline four ways how organisations can increase the maturity of their cloud operations.

Architecture

Cloud architecture is the key to modern operations, but many organisations face challenges in this area. They often lack a holistic view and fail to define the purpose and expected outcomes of cloud adoption. Standards and consistency are also lacking, with organisations using outdated approaches. Embracing modern architectural principles will be a game changer.

Leveraging automation, building security into your design, moving towards a componentised architecture, and promoting a pattern-based approach (design it once, properly, and reuse) are all essential for success.

Alex Hammond and Tristan Sifantus, Airwalk Reply

With this in place, organisations will benefit from greater consistency and efficiency from design to delivery. By improving your architecture capabilities and asking yourself important questions about the roadmap, outcomes, skills, and appetite for change, you can drive significant improvements and achieve much higher-quality outcomes for your organisation.

Security

Outdated security practices won’t suffice in the cloud era. Traditional one-time audits and checklist-based frameworks fall short. Cloud security demands an integrated, automated approach with built-in measures throughout development and engineering processes so that your developers cannot break things or make your systems vulnerable.

Building security into your designs – rather than treating it as an afterthought – will also save you a considerable amount of stress. True cloud expertise involves adapting legacy controls and standards, making security a shared responsibility across the business. By embracing these principles, organisations can elevate their security to a new level, gaining enhanced visibility and control.

Here are some key questions you should ask yourself, and seek support if the answers are ‘no’: Do you have clear visibility of your cloud assets and their security? Are your controls effective? Does your security team possess the necessary cloud-focused skills?

Finance, Governance and Controls

Cloud finance, governance and controls encompass managing and operating cloud services within an organisation. However, organisations often fail to recognise the unique nature of cloud costs and control compared to traditional models (capex versus opex) and without proper management, they can get out of hand very quickly. Moreover, a lack of a defined risk framework results in uncertainty about what should be on the cloud – and why – and the level of business criticality.

To address these challenges, you need a clear cloud strategy, architectural principles, and effective governance. This includes implementing cost-control mechanisms and guardrails that will ensure everyone operates within the agreed constraints, holding teams accountable and improving visibility of cost and usage, and adopting a cloud-specific governance approach that balances speed, security, and risk.

It’s crucial to evaluate the organisation's maturity and control in cloud FinOps and define a risk appetite that aligns with a tailored governance approach, to ensure that everything you do is bringing tangible value to the organisation.

Further reading: Optimising company-wide cloud spend with a 'cost first' approach.

Skills and Delivery Structures

New skills and delivery structures are crucial to succeed in the cloud. Legacy approaches and siloed teams hinder scalability and innovation so it is important to reassess the operating model, team organisation, and skills needed for cloud transformation. Simply sending employees on short courses and continuing to operate in the same ways as you did on-premises can lead to knowledge gaps and increased risk.

Achieving a successful cloud transition requires a cultural shift and investment in existing employees, and keep in mind that recruitment alone will not be sufficient. You must invest in enabling your workforce for enduring technology delivery capabilities and must question the effectiveness of your current operating model, skills mix, and investment in cultural transformation. By addressing these areas, you can embrace the full potential of the cloud.

In conclusion, achieving cloud maturity is essential for organisations seeking to maximise the benefits of cloud adoption. Addressing the four above key areas can set up organisations for success and unlock the true potential and benefits of the cloud.

Note that there are numerous others areas that can be addressed to build maturity. In fact, the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption’s maturity framework identifies over 30 different components that influence maturity.