Ronnie Coleman, a top ranked body builder, said this about being a body builder in a famous YouTube clip:
“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy-ass weights.”
And now I’m is going to say it for cloud:
“Everyone wants to say they are succeeding at cloud adoption, but no one wants to work out what success means,”
Like novices at the gym looking for the shortcut or the magic pill to giant biceps, it’s easy to tie cloud adoption success to a simple metric such as the total percent of the on premise workloads that have migrated to the cloud. This metric served us well in the virtualization days, but it’s not appropriate for cloud consumption and can lead to non-optimal cloud utilization.
But like the fitness industry (and this is the last parallel comparison I’ll draw from the fitness industry, I promise) many industry players are incentivized to make it sound simple. So, they emphasize going all-in on cloud. All too often during my advisory engagements, I have to steer IT leadership away from utilizing the percent migrated by a certain date as the indicator of successful cloud adoption. This is a trap that must be avoided. My experience has shown that the being able to answer Yes to the following four questions would indicate successful cloud adoption for 99% of companies we work with:
- Are you able to accelerate software development with cloud?
The focus here needs to be on full end-to-end (local dev to production) acceleration. As you might imagine, this requires you to modify people, process, and tooling.
- Do you have the ability to assess your application portfolio and produce a supporting cost benefit analysis to determine if a workload should stay on premise, be lift and shifted to the cloud, refactored onto cloud, or shifted to SaaS?
You need to have the ability to do a deep analysis on your application portfolio to decide if, when, and how you move applications to the cloud.
- Do you have a systematic approach to establish the necessary cloud controls and operating procedures for new cloud-based solutions?
Cloud solutions tend to be highly diverse in the number of services and technologies utilized, and IT organizations need the right framework for solution design, control establishment, and operations.
- Has your consumption of on premise virtual machine infrastructure drastically slowed?
A telltale sign your organization isn’t successfully adopting cloud is a continual increase in on-prem virtual machine infrastructure. Most of your new initiatives should be happening on the cloud. If you have the right operating framework in place (Refer to #3), you should have no problems servicing new initiatives with cloud solutions.
Successful cloud adoption means you have been able to accelerate software development efforts, drastically slow the consumption of on premise virtual machines, actively assess your application portfolio for strong cloud migration candidates, and mature cloud controls and operating procedures to support new cloud initiatives. These four are true indicators of cloud adoption success.