Do you have your act together on cloud governance?

Lack of discipline is a killer of efficiency and ROI

Cloud services are now generally accepted as an integral part of IT delivery. If the findings of a Freeform Dynamics survey of 166 IT professionals commissioned by OVHcloud are anything to go by, however, the chances are that you aren’t getting the most from your cloud service estate. Many of those participating in the research said the mix of services they had accumulated over the years was less than ideal in the context of current requirements, with too many workloads running on the wrong type of service. Where this happens, service fees and operational overheads are higher than necessary, and key application requirements are often not fully met.

If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to revisit the way cloud-related decisions are made in your organisation. The research suggests, for example, that services are not always selected on an objective and coordinated basis.

One of the issues is that developers, application teams and other IT pros can easily become victims of habit. A common story we hear is of a team choosing a service for their first cloud initiative, then using the same service without too much further thought for all subsequent projects.

You might be thinking this sounds perfectly reasonable. If you have used a service successfully, surely it makes sense to stick with it. In practice, though, it’s not as simple as that.

Cloud services vary considerably with regard to the functionality, service levels and contract terms they offer. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and as project requirements also differ, what’s right in one scenario may not be appropriate in another. Approaching cloud service adoption with a ‘one size fits all’ mindset is, therefore, a recipe for ending up with a lot of technical and/or commercial mismatches.

We then have the consequences of uncoordinated adoption activity across the IT organisation. One group might start down the AWS route, another might get locked into Azure, while a third group might develop a habit for yet another provider. As integration requirements inevitably emerge down the line, getting services working together when each team has been doing its own thing can be a big challenge.

Also often overlooked is the way application needs change over time, e.g. evolving usage patterns, escalating resource/performance demands, and new compliance requirements. Dynamics like these might mean the cloud you started off with to host a particular application ceases to be cost-effective or able to tick the right regulatory boxes. Switching to another service could save money and help you maintain alignment with business expectations, objectives and ROI.

And we shouldn’t forget that the provider landscape is ever-changing too. When you selected that service three years ago, or even last year, it may have been the best option available to meet the needs of a particular application. Since then, however, the original provider may have modified its pricing structures, deprecated key functions, or otherwise made changes that render the service less suitable.  Other providers, meanwhile, might well have introduced offerings and features that would suit the application much better.

All of this highlights the need for good governance, i.e. a structured, coordinated and disciplined approach to making cloud-related decisions. This doesn’t mean dictating the use of specific services to project teams but providing them with guidance on the criteria to be used when assessing needs and evaluating and selecting options. Mechanisms to review services already in use to identify where changes make sense are also important, as is the ongoing involvement of individuals such as architects and senior operations staff who can provide the bigger picture perspective.

If you want to read more of our analysis on the changing nature of cloud service provision and get a feel for how your peers in other companies are making cloud-related decisions, we would encourage you to download our full research summary. This is entitled “Turning the tables on cloud service providers; Experienced customers are now calling the shots”, and it’s available here.

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