Admitting you have a problem with your cloud transformation

Too often your cloud transformation is all about the technology. Don’t forget about the people – your biggest asset.

It’s frequently said that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. In the midst of a high-stakes cloud transformation, all too often a business can’t clearly see the problem before them.

Here’s a typical scenario: You’re six months into your public cloud transformation; everything is slowing down, and you’re not meeting your key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs could include things like:

  • The number of workloads moved from the data center to the cloud is too low.
  • Automation has not been implemented, and your headcount is too high.
  • Your cloud bill is growing without a corresponding decrease in operating costs.
  • Employees are struggling to understand how they can meet the KPIs.
  • DevOps practices are not being implemented.

What’s wrong? You haven’t equipped your employees with the tools they need to be successful in your digital transformation.

As VP of Global Cloud Delivery at Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, I’ve seen these struggles first-hand. Businesses all over the world are embarking on a cloud transformation journey, but they’re finding that it is challenging. And the problem stems from one area – people.

First things first: Deal with the permafrost layer of management.

The key decision makers in your digital transformation are your cloud program owners and sponsors. These employees typically make up what I call the permafrost layer of leadership within an IT organization. In many companies, these are the people that have been around for a while; they can appear to be frozen in place because they’ve been doing things the same way for years.

Cloud has redefined the IT industry and job market — again. Yet, this particular displacement is unlike any in history. With the new outsourcing model comes a completely different method of IT consumption that is counter to existing roles and responsibilities. The permafrost must be thawed…I’ve outlined a few thoughts below.

Realize the core obstacle of success –- your people.

The bottom line is that your people are not ready to do this work. Let’s examine why.

The fatal flaw in most digital transformation journeys is legacy thinking by many of those I mentioned earlier — the permafrost people. Typically these people are scared of change, because they’re afraid of losing their jobs. Others think that they are too close to retirement to change. They’re thinking, “Reinvent myself 5 years before retirement? No way! I’ll wait for this whole cloud thing to blow over.”

To be successful in your cloud transformation, you need to change from a legacy mindset to a new way of doing things – and that takes education. Employees need to know how to organize, deploy, and use the cloud.

So what do permafrost people typically do to solve the problem? Instead of trying to fix it, they point to the cloud itself as the problem. I’m even hearing about enterprises moving their apps back from the cloud to on-premises. This type of confusion occurs when the cloud team doesn’t clearly understand what they are doing. But, with the right training, you can better determine which workloads to keep on premises and which ones should be kept in the cloud.

Real life story: Thawing the permafrost

Let me give you a real life example. A cloud team in the financial services industry launched cloud services to their clients – the business units. The managers in the business units looked at the new, slick cloud services and said, “Thanks, we’ll take it from here.” Unfortunately, the managers weren’t given basic training in cloud deployment, such as migration strategies, financial controls, and resource scheduling. Six months later, the bill for the cloud program was way out of hand! AND… the business units had yet to deploy a single production app!

The problem was that the business units were consuming the services with no knowledge of how to use them. Much like a mobile phone provider, the consumer must know how to operate the device or else risk getting hit with costly bills, security problems, and poor experiences.

To solve the problem, the cloud team established a training program for the business units that covered Cloud 101, governance, financial best practices, and basic security. Once the business units better understood the services, they regained control of their bills, and the release rate of production applications accelerated.

All is not lost

Businesses all over the world are struggling with the same cloud deployment issues. Although the problem seems complex, the fix is simple. Businesses need to concentrate on people, their most valuable assets. Proper training is the key to a successful cloud transformation, followed closely by automation software that simplifies management of your multi-clouds.

This article is the first in a series on how to train your employees for a successful cloud transformation. In the next articles, I’ll discuss how to improve your cloud deployment, bring people together in a new DevOps team, empower employees, and implement long-term cloud success.

For more information on a smooth transition to multi-cloud, visit the CTP website. To learn more about how to ease your digital transformation, click here. To find out more about simplifying and automating your cloud with multi-cloud management software, go to HPE OneSphere.

About the Author

Robert Christiansen is a cloud technology leader, best-selling author, mentor, and speaker. In his role as VP of Global Cloud Delivery at Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Christiansen oversees the delivery of professional services and innovation for HPE’s public cloud business. His client base includes Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers, and his team’s leadership model encompasses the entire IT transformation journey, from inception to execution. To read more articles by Robert, visit the Shifting to Software-Defined blog.