There is an upsurge in organizations adopting cloud solutions in their business processes. Whether in the form of scalable infrastructure, cloud-native tools, or managed IT services there is some sort of cloud adoption almost every organization takes at a varying cloud maturity level. The benefits of cloud adoption is increasing the demand for full optimization of the cloud solutions for organizations.
The Cloud Maturity Model
The first stage in assessing your organization’s cloud maturity level is by assessing its placement in the industry’s cloud maturity model (CMM). The CMM is a roadmap of what a company undergoes to adopt cloud services. Once you have identified your position on the CMM the strategy to move up in terms of cloud optimization, till it meets the team’s expectation, can be planned. Determining your position in CMM is a vital part of formulating your IT strategy. A cloud maturity model helps companies to understand:
- The current usage of cloud
- The targeted cloud maturity level
- Expenses and ROIs to migrate to cloud
- Preparations for the cultural shift and adoption of best practices
Cloud Maturity Level in Stages
The cloud maturity level of an organization can be estimated by comparing with various levels of the cloud maturity model. The cloud maturity model can be broadly classified into five stages.
Stage 0: Nonexistent
Organizations who are absolutely sticking to legacy architecture with on-premise databases are labeled at stage zero. These establishments exhibit a predominant reliance on traditional infrastructure, often overlooking or utilizing minimal cloud-based solutions at the operational level. Despite the sporadic utilization of cloud services, these implementations remain peripheral, escaping the attention of top management and lacking formal integration within the established IT environment.
Stage 1: Initial
At this stage various projects and departments of the organization are taking the support of IaaS infrastructure solutions or SaaS based applications. The organization lacks governance in cloud usage and has no centralized cloud strategy. The executive rank is not very eager to invest. Teams are unable to purchase required services.
There is also a shortage of cloud related skills internally and the organization can give a thought about addressing this talent shortfall through engagement with adept cloud solutions provider from this stage. Organizations may also opt to initiate a discovery workshop or create a Proof of Concept (POC). KPIs for cloud usage should be delineated at this stage to prepare for effective cloud adoption strategies.
Stage 2: Managed
Companies have started paying attention to officially manage their cloud usage at this stage. Yet there is a limited visibility about how teams use cloud resources. There is a lack of documented policy on cloud adoption. Staff members unwilling to upskill resist to changing practices.
Cloud resources are being put under a centralized management. Company-wide strategy for cloud adoption is being formulated at this stage. Cloud adoption needs to be aligned with business goals like breaking into a new market, deploying new features etc. A dedicated cloud governance team should be established. A Centralized Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is built at this stage.
Stage 3: Migration
At this stage company have fully adopted cloud and actively driving business transformation leveraging it. Cloud service is utilized to fine tune app performance, improve operational efficiency, and reduce IT expenses. Apart from using the regular cloud services like IaaS, SaaS it is the time when advanced PaaS features like auto-scaling, advanced monitoring, and in-depth analysis tools are utilized to optimize cloud benefits.
This is the stage to plan migration of all targeted apps and systems. The top tier management should be convinced about complete IT decentralization. A complete migration roadmap from the current state to the target state considering all applications is created at this stage. Orchestration services like Kubernetes, AWS Fargate etc. are fully embraced and automation opportunities are explored. This is the stage to experiment with advanced digital transformation technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, big data etc.
Stage 4: Optimization
At this stage the organization tries to continuously optimize its cloud infrastructure. CloudOps is introduced to optimize cloud usage at this stage. All legacy apps have been rearchitected or refactored as cloud-native apps. There is a well managed cloud governance that centrally defines policies and applies them to the entire cloud infrastructure. The policies and protocols related to cloud usage are documented in detail. All cloud processes are highly documented and heavily referenced. Cloud at this stage is being actively used to drive innovation and build new revenue models. Companies rely on serverless, microservices and other advanced technologies to maximize the usage of cloud solutions.
Organizations continuously leverage cloud service provider’s tools to improve operational cost. They get vigilant about aggregating new services and improving shared services. The culture is changed to continuously improve service management and application management method.
Assessing Your Cloud Maturity Level
Cloud maturity depends on an organization’s engagement level, cost control plan, and migration tactics.
To assess the engagement level questions that can be asked are:
- Do you have sustainable cloud communities? If so, what’s the state of your Cloud Center of Excellence, Cloud Center for Enablement, and Cloud Community of Practice?
- What are you doing to create a common culture of learning and practice surrounding the cloud?
- How cloud literate is your entire organization?
- Do you provide cloud learning resources and encourage everyone to use them?
To perform maturity assessment of cloud strategy the following questions can be asked:
- Do you have a cloud spend management plan? How about cloud SLA policies and cloud governance?
- Do policymakers have professional certifications?
- How scalable and flexible are your applications and infrastructure?
- What does cloud literacy and strategy look like in your organization?
A crucial part of cloud strategy is the cost control plan for, in an optimized level of cloud utilization cost tends to spiral out of hand if not effectively planned. Questions that will help to assess the cost planning are:
Which characteristics does your organization monitor continuously over time?
- Network connections of users
- Ingress/egress of data
- API calls
Which requirements do you carefully evaluate before determining where to store data?
- Performance/latency requirements
- Location/network bandwidth available for users
- Availability requirements
- Data access and mobility (e.g., ingress/egress)
- API calls
Which investments has your organization made in the last 12 months to help effectively manage cloud
- Tools that provide comprehensive visibility over all cloud storage usage
- Hiring more staff
- Funding training and certification of employees
- Storage platforms that are cross-environment compatible
- Application re-architecture projects
- Automation tools
Do you use third-party cloud cost estimation tools?
- Yes, always
- Yes, sometimes
How automated are each of the following tasks for cloud storage at your organization today?
- Monitoring data flows
- Provisioning and updating end-user access permissions
- Protection of data (i.e., backup, retention, archive)
- Enforcing data security (e.g., encryption)
Improving Your Cloud Maturity Level
Adopting a CMM and following the next stages of cloud growth it can make leads to better optimization of the cloud resources. Before aiming for the next level of organizational cloud maturity certain factors need to be accounted for aligned with the business interest.
Check deployment criteria
Before deploying an application to the cloud it is important to see that the deployment criteria is met. Application characteristics like performance, availability, data mobility, API, and user network bandwidth should be able to deliver as per user expectations.
Once the application is deployed it is important to continuously monitor it so that the performance is always top notch and consistent. The organization can think about integrating various automation tools to ensure consistency in performance, data mobility, and scalability.
Invest in tools and training
Adapting to a new work culture under the influence of a cloud will require adequate staff training. Investing in the right tools to upgrade operational performance of various teams is another important step. Employees should not be scared of the new tools and processes that introduces as a part of cloud adoption but rather feel encouraged to try new ones.
Explore new technologies to automate
At advanced stages of cloud adoption organizations must look into integrating technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, DevOps, Data engineering to make the most of cloud services. All security processes needs to be automated to prevent manual error. Integrating DevOps and CI/CD pipeline to automate various deployment to the cloud will enhance delivery speed.
Every organization that adapts some sort of cloud services ultimately discovers the need to move into a completely cloud based IT environment. However, migrating to cloud is not only a technological but also cultural change and is a gradual process. Organizations should invest enough time to assess the cloud maturity level they are at and meticulously plan the next steps for a successful cloud adoption.