According to early analysis, the growth in cloud computing accelerated in 2020, driven largely by the pandemic. As companies quickly established work-from-home policies, they needed a way for employees to access data and applications that had previously been hosted on-premises.
There is growing evidence that 2020 may have broken the log jam of resistance that kept some organizations from whole-hearted cloud adoption. Deloitte predicts that revenue growth in the cloud market will continue to grow at a CAGR of greater than 30% for 2021 through 2025 as companies move more workloads to the cloud to save money, increase organizational agility, and drive innovation.
The outcome of your move to the cloud can have a significant impact on the organization and business strategy. A smooth, properly configured migration can put the organization in the position to achieve its business objectives and give them a competitive advantage over the competition. A poorly planned or executed migration can negatively affect the cost savings associated with the cloud, drive down revenues, and expose the company to security and litigation risks. IT leaders are understandably focused on assembling the best migration team they can.
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As skilled as your cloud migration team may be, they may not have the right skill sets or the bandwidth to manage your cloud environment. Furthermore, the team you assemble to manage your cloud environments will have just as much impact on your ability to achieve your objectives and minimize your risks as your migration team.
Skill sets required to execute a successful cloud strategy
If you host your own cloud, a greater percentage of the on-going management responsibilities fall on your shoulders. Some providers offer remote monitoring services, but generally speaking, those with on-prem data centers tend to be self-managed.
Also read: Our Strategic Guide to Cloud Computing
When you migrate workloads to a hosted cloud, whether private or public, there needs to be a clear division of labor between your internal staff and the cloud provider. Drawing up the responsibilities requires understanding your skills and limitations and choosing a provider that can fill in the gaps. Here are a few of the skill sets required for an effective cloud approach:
Cloud platform experts
Hybrid clouds are the norm. In late 2019, Carl Lehman, principal analyst at 451 Research, predicted 39% of enterprises will be running the bulk of their workloads in public clouds by 2020, while 35% will be running workloads in a combination of hosted and on-premises private clouds. The skill sets required to configure and manage each of these cloud technologies are often very different, so just having “cloud experts” on the team isn’t enough. You need experts for each platform you choose.
Cloud security and compliance experts
It’s tempting to assign cloud security and compliance responsibilities to your cloud platform experts, but that may not be the best idea. Yes, cloud platform experts need to be involved in the discussion, but IT security and regulatory compliance require FTEs (Full Time Experts) focused on the many different elements of each challenge.
Given the difficulties many IT leaders have in finding, developing, and retaining these individuals – and the risks involved in the cloud – cloud security and compliance is one of the most common areas outsourced to organizations like TierPoint.
Cloud performance and reliability experts
With so many employees working from home, many organizations are starting to recognize the role cloud performance plays in user satisfaction and productivity. Your cloud performance experts may not need to be an FTE, but someone must be accountable for cloud performance, including not just uptime, but also cloud responsiveness.
There are cloud performance management tools that can assist with cloud performance and reliability, but if you don’t have an expert that can interpret the results, they’re of little use. Once again, outsourcing to a provider with the right expertise can help.
Disaster recovery and business continuity experts
Disaster recovery is the IT component of a comprehensive business continuity plan. You’ll need an expert who can design – and manage – a disaster recovery strategy to meet the organization’s recovery objectives.
Disaster recovery is one of those areas where bandwidth is as much of an issue as skill set. Once they design a cloud strategy that they believe will meet their recovery objectives, they find they lack the bandwidth to test and maintain it. Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS, is an increasingly common offering used by organizations concerned with uptime and business continuity.
If your cloud data center is owned and operated by your organization, you’ll also need staff well-versed in data center facilities management. Skill sets include physical security, power management, cooling systems, and connectivity. If you lack the skill sets or bandwidth to manage your own data center facilities (but decide you still need to own the hardware), colocation is a good option, where you can house your hardware in a facility owned and managed by a third party data center provider.
Even though your data is in the cloud, it still resides on hardware somewhere. You can offload a significant amount of this responsibility by working with a hosted cloud provider. But, if you decide to host your cloud applications yourself, the responsibility for maintaining this equipment rests on your shoulders.
One final note on skill sets. We’re not using the term “expert” lightly in the list above. Given the importance of your cloud strategy to your overall business goals, you can’t afford to have anything less than expert go-to resources covering each of these areas.
Does your team have the resources to execute a cloud strategy?
Even though a strong majority of businesses say they lack some of the skills needed to execute their cloud strategy, bandwidth can be just as much of an issue as talent. These days, a lot of businesses operate 24/7, but even if yours doesn’t, your systems may be available around the clock. Someone needs to be monitoring them the entire time.
As already noted, there are cloud management applications that can help monitor your systems, but even with advancements in self-healing technologies, they can only do so much. With downtime as expensive as it is, waking someone up from a deep slumber to drive in and fix a network problem just isn’t an option. And addressing security breaches after the fact isn’t nearly as cost-effective as setting up a 24/7 security perimeter that leverages both human and artificial intelligence.
There’s also the nuts and bolts of executing your cloud strategy to consider. Automation is increasing, but many cloud management processes still include manual steps. We noted this above when we talked about executing your disaster recovery strategy, but this also applies to more mundane IT tasks like managing the help desk for your cloud users and ensuring patches are reviewed and installed promptly.
Your next step in your journey to the cloud
We developed a guide to help businesses start identifying what they need in order to successfully move to the cloud. Whether you’re building your own cloud, moving your cloud to a third-party colocation data center, or going with a fully-managed cloud provider, our guide will help you identify what you need to consider.
We can help you get there
TierPoint provides secure, reliable, connected private and public solutions as well as a deep portfolio of managed services. Reach out to us for more information on how we can help smooth your journey to the cloud and help you maximize the benefits of your cloud environments while minimizing the risks.