Maximize cloud investments by building a cloud culture to match

Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK, discusses the impact of a strong cloud culture on the success (or failure) of a business’s cloud migration ambitions.
Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK, discusses the impact of a strong cloud culture on the success (or failure) of a business’s cloud migration ambitions.

In recent years, the number of businesses adopting cloud technology has grown exponentially, helped by the ever-expanding volume and variety of cloud solutions on offer. Today, a cloud model suits every budget and situation, ranging from public and private to hybrid and hyperscale. However, there’s more to a successful cloud deployment than many realize, and long-term goals should be about more than simply achieving a good return on investment.

For one, cloud service integration goes far beyond the realm of the IT department, requiring board-level leadership to be truly effective. This is because culture plays a huge role in a workforce’s overall willingness and/or ability to adopt new technologies successfully, and cloud is no different. The more buy-in there is at every level of the company, the better the end result will be. This article will discuss how businesses of all shapes and sizes can cultivate a powerful cloud culture to reap all the benefits on offer from this ever-improving technology.

A true cloud culture starts in the boardroom

Today, the vast majority of organizations recognize the potential that cloud has to transform their operations, offering a much more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective infrastructure than they can achieve with on-premises alternatives. However, cloud solutions aren’t off the shelf, cookie-cutter products. As such, before any kind of deployment takes place, it’s crucial that an organization stops, takes stock of its business requirements, and ensures that any final deployment decision is based around its own specific needs, not those of someone else.

Fostering a strong cloud culture amongst employees before migrating to the cloud will make this a much easier task, but it must start from the top – with the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). This is because reshaping existing workflows and policies while simultaneously preserving core company drivers, philosophies and values can be an extremely delicate balancing act. If this isn’t led from the top, then the chances of resistance are much higher. 

Remember that cloud culture impacts every stakeholder within the business, but also external stakeholders who come in contact with it – from IT and security, to marketing, sales, partners, and customers. Every one of these groups will be directly impacted by a migration to the cloud and, unless they are prepared for it and willing to embrace it, overall business efficiency will undoubtedly suffer, at least in the short term.

Make sure all stakeholders are onboard

When done right, cloud has the potential to unite every aspect of a business’s operations, leading to numerous time saving and productivity benefits. However, if the accompanying cloud culture is not robust enough, it can cause confusion, disarray, and siloed working, i.e., all of the things it’s designed to resolve.

A strong cloud culture enables businesses to make much more informed decisions about exactly what kind of cloud infrastructure works for them. Many companies today are opting for a hybrid option due to the high level of flexibility, efficiency, and peace of mind it offers. Because hybrid cloud is co-located, it also gives them the best chance of quickly adapting to future challenges and evolving IT landscapes as and when needed.

Put the right team (and skills) in place

A specific skill set is required to successfully manage cloud migration and ongoing service provision. As such, it’s unrealistic to think an IT team that only has experience in managing on-premises servers will be able to do so without the necessary knowledge. Existing team members will almost certainly need cloud-specific training, while several new cloud roles may also need to be created. Examples of the most frequent positions advertised today include cloud security manager, cloud systems engineer, cloud architect and cloud network engineer.

Pick a cloud service provider that will be a genuine partner

The cloud service provider a business chooses will have a huge impact on the cloud culture that ultimately develops. Most providers have their own distinct philosophies, values, and ways of working, which inevitably rub off on the employees of the businesses they serve. As such, it’s important that the business and provider are a good fit for one another from the start, with goals that closely align.

Working with a cloud provider that offers a vendor-neutral and flexible approach will ultimately make transitioning to any form of cloud strategy a much more smoother undertaking. Not only will it avoid vendor lock-in issues, but it will also allow an organization’s cloud adoption strategy to develop and mature over time. In addition, it’s worth taking the time to research a cloud provider that works with all the big names, such as VMware, Microsoft, and Apache.

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In just a few years, cloud computing has gone from an industry buzzword to an essential business strategy. The events of the last 18 months have only accelerated this trend, as companies from across the business spectrum scramble to adopt flexible working practices that help minimize disruption caused by the pandemic. However, migrating to the cloud is no small undertaking and without the necessary preparations, it can quickly turn sour. Building the foundations of a strong cloud culture before migration takes place is a great way to smooth the transition and ensure buy-in from employees for many years to come. But remember the strongest cultures always start from the very top.

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Terry Storrar

Terry Storrar, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK, has over 20 years of expertise across a range of specialised services, including managed services, cloud, hosting, implementation and architecture.

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