RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Managing your cloud estate requires a new IT paradigm—one in which operating models become more dynamic, powered by automation and new skillsets.
  • Getting value in the cloud means optimizing in several key areas, including innovation, consumption, cost and performance.
  • Organizations also need to consider how to optimize data, edge, networking and machine learning alongside the cloud.
  • Companies can benefit from working with third parties for their cloud management and optimization needs.


Break with tradition to get value from cloud

When it comes to managing cloud estate, traditional "change management" approaches just can't keep up. There's no such thing as running and decommissioning physical hardware over multi-year cycles, as is common in traditional IT. Instead, capacity, consumption, cost, performance and business innovation must be continuously optimized.

Hyperscalers produce thousands of upgrades, releases or new services every year. This unprecedented pace of change demands a different way of working: an agile, cloud-optimizing approach that Accenture calls "Run Different."

Rethinking how you run and optimize your IT estate is only one component of a successful cloud journey. Learn more in Accenture’s Ascend with Cloud.

Whatever type of cloud environment you choose, the responsibility of managing your IT still falls to you, not the cloud provider.

A new IT paradigm: Five questions to ask

Before overhauling your cloud estate management, consider these questions:

How should the operating model change?

Whatever type of cloud environment you choose, the responsibility of managing your IT still falls to you, not the cloud provider.

Part of managing IT well is ensuring your cloud operating model focuses on optimizing the cloud estate, including consumption, application performance and business innovation. You need to leverage the right mix of cloud services to maximize application performance while onboarding innovative new capabilities. It’s also important to get the most out of your data, using cloud services to gain new insights.

What new skills do I need?

The skillsets necessary for cloud estate management require constant reassessment. Skills that appear foundational one day can be obsolete the next.

Some aspects of cloud require greater specialization, while other areas necessitate multidisciplinary “full stack” roles. The needs also go beyond technical skills: design thinking, business strategy and industry-specific skills should be bundled into the same operating model.

But finding people with the right cloud skills can be challenging, as companies compete for talent and grapple with continuous reskilling. For many, turning to a third party for help is the solution.

How should I use automation?

Greater standardization in a cloud environment means rules and policies—ranging from infrastructure provisioning to security measures—can be expressed and enforced through code, leading to a streamlined “as code” environment.

However, done wrong, automation in areas like network configuration can unintentionally expose corporate data to the outside world. That's why a robust enterprise automation approach is essential.

How can I enforce governance through code?

Automation can take the knowledge that otherwise exists only in your best engineers' heads and convert it into a set of digital rules. These rules, expressed in code, can help an enterprise significantly reduce its risk exposure.

This is easier to achieve in a greenfield cloud native environment than a complex brownfield one. Trying to build new guardrails in a brownfield environment that was lifted and shifted from a data center risks breaking as many controls as you create.

Who’s responsible for security?

The cloud hyperscalers can only do so much: the security of what you put onto their clouds is still your responsibility. The good news is that cloud can significantly improve your security posture. The hyperscalers provide a range of tools and capabilities to help harden security.

A managed service can also help, enabling the application of DevSecOps best practices. For example, Accenture helped a large mining company assess security risks as workloads were migrated to cloud. In doing so, we discovered thousands of vulnerabilities within the company’s infrastructure, which were remediated quickly. Today, the company’s cloud environment is running securely.

Optimizing for new heights

Getting value in the cloud means optimizing in several key areas.

Innovation

When IT can track and assess new hyperscaler services, it isn’t only better able to optimize the cloud estate—it can also push innovation and help drive the company’s growth agenda.

However, there often isn’t time to evaluate the innovation potential of every release. This, too, builds a case for seeking expertise from outside the organization. It's also a reason to create a Cloud Center of Excellence (CoE).

A CoE is a dedicated team that combines business and technical expertise to assess the potential of each cloud release. Accenture has extensive experience working with clients to establish effective cloud CoEs.

Consumption, cost and performance

Optimizing the consumption, cost and performance of cloud resources involves understanding the complex interplay of cloud consumption and business processes while continuously monitoring the full stack.

Machine learning can help: It can predict how an application’s compute should change over time with user behavior, positioning you to better predict spikes, optimize your consumption, find the right balance between reserved and dynamic cloud instances, and add capacity when needed.

The power of FinOps transparency

When workloads are forgotten in the cloud, you can rack up consumption and costs at an alarming rate.

FinOps—the financial management of cloud—can provide a solution to this and other problems. By building financial transparency into your cloud operating model via a chargeback mechanism, you expose the true financial cost of cloud to relevant parts of your organization.

It's a highly effective way of changing the culture, too. When individual application teams take responsibility for their own cloud usage and cloud costs, they’re incentivized to minimize them. The whole organization then becomes better aligned around the total cost of ownership of the cloud estate.

Watching out for the wider technology estate

For most organizations, cloud infrastructure is only part of the technology estate. Cloud management and optimization requires considering how the whole operating model fits together. Here are key components to keep in mind:

Data

Huge volumes of data are hard to move. Cloud data management means considering options like bringing compute to the data or creating smart extracts.

Edge

Enterprises need to consider how to manage minimizing latency and maximizing compute performance at the network edge.

Networking

Cloud providers are rapidly expanding their networking offerings, with each featuring dozens of services including routing, switching and more.

Machine learning

Cloud providers also offer machine learning services that deliver insights in areas like customer segmentation and supply chain optimization.

View All

Running different in the cloud

A robust cloud agenda has shifted from an aspiration to a mandate. This is why many companies turn to third parties. These organizations have the scale to monitor new cloud services released every month, plus the expertise to integrate those releases into the cloud estate. Accenture research shows that 48% of those using third-party managed services “to a great degree” report achieving the full benefits of cloud (compared with just 35% of those that don’t).

The key takeaway? Build optimization, innovation and the adoption of new cloud capabilities into your day-to-day operations. That's how you run different in the cloud—and that’s how you get the most value out of your transformation journey.

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