A recent article by McKinsey & Company, ‘Cloud adoption to accelerate IT modernization’, posed the question – is migration to the cloud a means, not an end in itself?
The firm points out that many organizations are struggling to get full value from their move to the cloud, despite spending on cloud initiatives running at around six times the level of other IT projects up to 2020.
According to McKinsey, this is because organizations treat migration as an end in itself, rather than an integral part of a wider digital transformation strategy.
Moving legacy applications to the cloud may deliver some cost, scalability and efficiency benefits. But, if organizations also retain on-premise infrastructure characterized by manual processes and customized configurations, this can result in an environment that is complex to manage and potentially more costly.
It’s far better, the firm argues, to take a holistic attitude and adopt all the elements — and benefits — a cloud environment offers. That includes a single security strategy, self-service features, high levels of automation and standardization, agile development and release, scalability on demand, and a dynamic environment that enables rapid response to change.
By adopting a cloud-first approach, organizations can reduce their IT overhead costs by up to 40 percent, increase reliability with a significant reduction in IT incidents and optimize IT assets, according to McKinsey.
The firm also highlights the growing opportunities to take advantage of cloud providers’ investments in machine learning, advanced analytics and support for IoT. These are all important factors that can contribute to faster time to market and higher levels of innovation.
Develop Cloud Skills
A key challenge in leveraging cloud technology is to find or grow the right skills. Many IT teams include experienced professionals, who are highly skilled in managing traditional environments.
However, leveraging the cloud requires different skills sets, particularly an ability to understand cloud’s compute, storage and security protocols. That means a significant investment in reskilling programs or hiring cloud specialists to augment the existing team.
Recognizing that it takes time to develop the right skills across the IT organization, McKinsey recommends setting up small core groups to prepare for cloud and identify priority applications for migration.
Other members of the team can undertake training programs to develop their own skills and gradually adopt cloud operating models within their existing environment. That enables the team to build cloud capability and prioritize tasks that improve productivity, quality and speed.
Take a Holistic Approach
Skills development however is just part of the process. McKinsey recommends organizations to create a strategy for transformation, focusing on both mid- and long-term business and IT goals. IT leaders should achieve buy-in for the strategy from all stakeholders and agree a change management process that enables the organization to measure progress and achieve its goals.
That way, cloud migration is no longer an end in itself, but a means to achieve scale, agility, efficiency and the cost savings that cloud promises.
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