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October 02, 2018
When it comes to cloud management and optimization, companies should “run differently”
By: Tristan Morel L'Horset

With companies now running a significant part of their business in the cloud, it’s a good time for them to step back and see how it’s working out. When they do, they’re likely to be left feeling that while they’re getting benefits, there’s probably a whole lot more value they could be gaining. And they’re right.

The cloud, indeed, generates significant operational and financial benefits for companies using it. But it also introduces considerable operational complexity that if not dealt with appropriately can torpedo efforts to truly capitalize on all the cloud has to offer and undermine the business case on which the move to the cloud was based.

The fact is, managing the cloud requires a different mindset than managing traditional on-premise legacy systems. And by not adjusting, companies are leaving lots of money and opportunities on the table.

How should companies be approaching cloud management and optimization?

Based on our experience with more than 20,000 cloud projects, companies need to think carefully about how they manage, optimize, and consume cloud services, and the role a robust cloud management platform can play, to truly excel in the cloud (see figure). That applies to both cloud-hosted and cloud-native application management.

Doing so will help companies not only generate significant operational benefits, but also drive an improved business case across their entire infrastructure estate by reducing the cost of managing the environment and the estate itself.

#1: Cloud Management Services (CMS): Run the cloud more efficiently

Cloud Management Services (CMS) are critical to maintain the health of a company’s applications and end-user services as well as support changes within that environment.

But effectively managing cloud estates requires some significant changes to both a company’s operating model and its skills.

Companies embracing the cloud find they’ll have two types of users

  1. “Mode 1” users want control of the estate, predictable performance, and a stable environment.

  2. “Mode 2” users value agility, ease of use, unencumbered scalability, and full autonomy in how they use the infrastructure.

A company’s cloud operating model must accommodate both types of users, and that can mean a complete redesign is needed of the process and platform that support the company’s infrastructure.

Changes in a company’s talent base also are typically needed

In the cloud, the lines blur between the skills required to manage applications and those required to manage infrastructure. Myriad platform services—including serverless databases, key management system, machine learning, image recognition, speech-to-text translation, IoT analytics—are transforming the way cloud applications are built.

More importantly, applications living in the cloud can use these platform services to enhance the application seamlessly and quickly and easily deliver new features to business users. Every year, the major cloud providers release hundreds of new platform services, which means a company’s workforce needs to continually learn how to maintain the building blocks of today’s cloud-based applications to maximize the value the company gets from the cloud.

#2: Cloud Optimization Services: Continually optimize the environment

The journey doesn’t end with moving applications to the cloud. In many ways, that’s just the beginning. To continue unlocking value from its cloud estate, companies need to continually optimize how much they consume, how they buy, and how they use the steady stream of innovations the hyperscale providers roll out.

Consumption Optimization

Cloud services have become incredibly granular and they enable companies to really fine tune how much they consume. This includes resizing or redefining instance types to optimize computing, tiering storage types to optimize storage, and eliminating waste by removing idle instances or unattached disks.

Buying Optimization

Smart financial choices can generate big benefits when it comes to the cloud. Companies need to strike the right mix of buying approaches—which could include pre-purchasing reserved instances to reduce usage costs, having on-demand capacity that provides flexibility to turn estates on and off as needed, and participating in secondary markets where advanced users can make “spot buys” at discount prices.

Innovation Optimization

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is continual access to the latest innovations. Companies have to constantly monitor their estate to make sure they’re using the right PaaS or micro-services for the right service. Replacing servers and software with services, implementing serverless database technologies, applying AI microservices, and reducing webserver load with CDN are examples of how embedding the cloud’s innovation will increase agility and reduce costs.

Facts are facts: managing the #cloud requires a different mindset vs. traditional, on-premise #legacyIT


#3: Cloud Consumption Services: Buy and use with insight

Buying capacity and new services from cloud providers is an ongoing process, which is much different from the periodic purchase of assets that characterize the on-premise legacy world. Instead of a one-time, closely controlled activity done every three to five years, cloud buying happens continually and if they’re not careful, companies could see spending spiral out of control.

Every month, companies receive a bill from their cloud provider, and over time the bill grows. In some cases, we have seen invoices expand to include hundreds of thousands of individual line items. Companies need to be able to sort through every line of every invoice to understand what’s being bought, by whom, and for what purpose; as well as reconcile discounts and credits and track them on an ongoing basis.

They also need to know what and how to buy from providers, which can be difficult given the expanding complexities of options providers offer across IaaS, PaaS and Enterprise support. And, companies have to be able to navigate the hyperscalers’ complex operational support ecosystem to quickly resolve technical or operational issues that may impact the business.

#4: Cloud Management Platform: Manage the entire technology estate

With the typical company’s cloud presence becoming increasingly complex, a cloud management platform has never been more important. A robust cloud management platform provides a single control plane that enables companies to effectively manage their entire technology estate—across all major public cloud providers, private cloud technologies, and legacy systems.

It also enables companies to take advantage of the three types of services described earlier. For instance, it provides the automation, service levels, and ITIL processes to satisfy Mode 1 users as well as the self-service capabilities, transparency of use, native capabilities, and service evolution that Mode 2 users want. It supports optimization by giving users visibility into usage data, monitoring new services, and incorporating important capabilities such as cloud tagging and predictive analytics. And it helps companies manage consumption with billing analytics, price simulation, and market comparison data.

Arguably the most important feature of a cloud management platform is its ability to adapt and evolve over time. If it can’t, there’s no way it can keep up with the hyperscalers’ relentless pace or companies’ own evolving business needs.

Putting it all together

To execute a Run extent framework, companies often find they can get significant operating model and skills support—as well as a commitment to deliver specific outcomes—from a managed cloud service provider.

The Gartner Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers, Worldwide Magic Quadrant 2018, in which Accenture is named as a Leader in both its “Completeness of Vision” and “Ability to Execute,” can help organizations make an informed decision about which partner is best to guide them in their cloud journey.

By combining Cloud Managed Services, Cloud Optimization Services and Cloud Consumption Services, companies can substantially improve the return they get on their cloud investment.

All three services working in concert can reduce not only the cost of the cloud estate, but also the cost of managing the environment. And when a company teams these services with consumption-based models, it can transform its IT organization into something special: a truly agile, cost-effective, “as-a-Service” business enabler.

That’s the ultimate value of the cloud, and it’s what companies are missing out on when they don’t run differently.

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