Jeff Fleece, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Digital Technology, Baker Hughes
Countless articles have been written over the past decade about the value of cloud computing technologies for businesses. The pace of innovation in the cloud market forces technical leaders to stay abreast of a rapidly changing landscape that frequently involves high degrees of hype and bold promises that appeal to cost-conscious business leaders. Not surprisingly, there is no single technical solution that will magically produce the desired outcomes of business agility, cost containment, security, and elastic capacity. Many companies have developed innovative solutions to facilitate adoption of the cloud, as well as to optimize the operations functions once in the cloud. The market is extremely crowded and cluttered with countless promises of easy-to-implement software that will produce miraculous results. In fact, separating the signal from the noise may be one of the most challenging problems for technology and business leaders in today’s complex market. Fortunately, the secrets to unlocking the business value enabled by the cloud are reasonably simple and may not even require specific technological choices. These enablers include designing your cloud program to best support your business strategy, identifying the right cloud operating model, and establishing a developer-centric governance model.
Companies adopt cloud strategies for various reasons, and no course of action is appropriate for all situations. I have been fortunate to lead organizations through a variety of cloud strategies, including cloud-first as a catalyst to accelerate business outcomes, as a modernization strategy to rapidly alleviate technical debtand risk, and to permit maximum flexibility and timeline optimization as part of merger, acquisition, and divestiture events. Each of these desired outcomes requires a common set of programmatic elements. In addition to a dedicated, well-trained, and flexible cloud DevSecOps team, it is vital that leaders at all levels of the organization—both technical and business partners—align on the overall strategy, the program priorities, and the financial implications of the strategy.
Regardless of where your organization currently stands on its journey to—or evolution in—the cloud, some of the foundational elements of success remain unchanged
Also, cyber-security and data protection need to be designed into the program from the inception, as well as leverage all available automation in these key areas to provide scalability to the solution.
In addition to key stakeholder and technology alignment across domains, a successful cloud program requires a nimble, responsive operating model. In many cases, co-location of critical resources can enable the necessary collaboration among key experts both during the migration phases and for normal operations. In fact, one of the best practices used by my organization is the notion of “cloud parties” for driving large-scale wave migrations; this model involves all critical resources from the cloud DevSecOps team and the migrating application teams sitting in the same room to enable latency-free, synchronous communication and face-to-face troubleshooting during critical events. As part of ongoing lifecycle management of the cloud environment, these teams benefit from an active engagement of the architecture, security, development, and operations resources dedicated to the cloud programs.
For the last five years, my current organization has been rehosting applications to the public cloud for IaaS workloads. We prioritize SaaS solutions for undifferentiated needs in the business and develop organic applications hosted on IaaS platforms where we can add differentiated value. Our primary priority has been a relentless pursuit of operational excellence in our IaaS structures. After optimizing the environments as far as we could for cost and performance, we chose to adopt a completely new architecture that would add enhanced business agility to support rapid growth, in addition to the aforementioned benefits. We have a multi-cloud strategy that includes rapid account provisioning, native in-cloud routing, security automation, and a developer-centric focus. In fact, many of the technology and services decisions that are enabled in our cloud environment are directly approved by a committee of key software development leaders, instead of having the infrastructure and security teams make the decisions independently. The collaborative, community approach encourages infrastructure, security, and application teams to work toward a common goal as one team.
Regardless of where your organization currently stands on its journey to—or evolution in—the cloud, some of the foundational elements of success remain unchanged. The primary contributors to releasing the business value of cloud adoption are durable and consistent across industries: designing your cloud program to best support your business strategy, identifying the right cloud operating model, and establishing a developer-centric governance model. Although emerging technologies can provide specific opportunities to enhance gross margins, accelerate innovation cycles, or improve speed to value, a successful cloud program that meets the needs of a dynamic business context is underpinned by a set of well-designed processes and structures that can absorb and respond to a rapidly evolving technology landscape. Whether your team is focused on containers, rapid data ingestion, IoT applications, or other exciting capabilities, your chances for success in the cloud increase immeasurably if you start with the right organizational foundation and promote the right collaborative, results-oriented culture at all levels of the corporate structure.