CLOUDEON – part of Devoteam aspires for innovation and delivers excellence in the Cloud. In this four-part series of articles, we interview our Chief Product Officer and Microsoft Regional Director Magnus Mårtensson on Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF).
The Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure is a comprehensive source of guidance and information on how to PLAN, ADOPT, BUILD, GOVERN, and INNOVATE in the Cloud. The framework covers the Cloud Journey from both technical, financial, HR, and innovation perspectives. Because CAF addresses general concerns, tips, and processes, it is just as relevant to use as a guideline for experienced Cloud users as for novices who are just starting out.
As Magnus says, CAF is a “wealth of information”, but it can also be “overwhelming and difficult to relate to”. In these four articles, we at CLOUDEON try to make that easier for you: we tackle the central phases and points of CAF and ask Magnus all the questions you want answered if you are trying to excel in the Cloud.
This week’s headline is ADOPT because migrating to the Cloud represents the central steps companies must take to revolutionize their IT landscape. The success of all Cloud Journeys revolves around gradual and carefully planned Cloud Adoption. It is a process that must involve all parts of the company – from finance over HR to, of course, the IT department – to realize the full potential of the Cloud.
“How do we eat an elephant? One spoon at a time.”
In the first article in this series on the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework, we covered what to look out for when defining a STRATEGY for moving to the Cloud. This includes understanding the strategic, financial, and technological motivations for making the transition, the expected business outcome, and carefully planning the first adoption project. Magnus also gave advice for the PLAN phase, which consists of getting an overview of your digital estate, making a Cloud adoption plan and a skills readiness plan for your employees, and aligning with the rest of the organization. The READY and ADOPT phases of CAF deal with the company’s first real steps into the Cloud and with making good practices for Cloud adoption and innovation.
When talking migration and Cloud Adoption, Magnus Mårtensson recommends approaching the process the same way he would approach CAF itself:
“CAF represents thousands of paragraphs, tons of materials. So, how does one approach it? It’s an elephant, so to speak. And how do we eat an elephant? One spoon at a time! If a company just read through CAF and started rolling it out at once – I’m not sure anyone would get a solution that works. It is important to get a deeper understanding of HOW to use the tool. That might mean picking up important bits and pieces of CAF as they relate to the IT reality in your company, and then start applying the knowledge to the migration of your IT landscape. CAF is to be used as guidance – not the law.”
He adds that CAF is especially useful for pointing out the mistakes and challenges in the adoption process and giving advice on how to avoid and fix the most common ones. CAF can also highlight the areas where the company might need to add new resources – human and technological – to their existing ones to best navigate the digital transformation.
Respect the scope of the transformation and be humble
Magnus’ ‘one-spoon-at-a-time’ approach to CAF also means realizing and working around the fact that there are limits to what you can plan for when you are new to the Cloud. Ideally, you would start your Cloud journey knowing exactly how much capacity, how many external and internal resources, and how much money you need to make a successful Cloud Adoption.
According to Magnus, however, learning how to operate in the Cloud is a lot of learning as you go. Microsoft and CAF provide a lot of great resources for that learning process, but his best tip is to remember to have respect for the scope of the transformation, be humble and cautious in confronting technical challenges, and get the expert help that you need to support the organization in the change.
Magnus offers the financial learning curve in handling Cloud as an example. A digital transformation will often require a completely new outlook on things like the IT budget and the scalability of the business, and it can be hard to plan for those changes in advance.
Accurate predictions and procedures require data collection and experience that can only be had by beginning to migrate applications and building platforms in Cloud. He explains:
“Let’s say a company wants to do a Cloud Adoption and has tried to predict the costs of doing that. After a short while the finance department comes back: they are looking at the cost consumption data in the Cloud and demanding more information. The solution to that problem is better tagging – but when the plan was originally made there wasn’t enough Cloud knowledge in the company to define the optimal tagging procedures and decide what forecasting needed to be done.”
The Cloud Adoption Framework is not a race from A-Z – it’s a continuous process
The continuous process of migrating to the Cloud, learning, and implementing the new knowledge also highlights the importance of starting small and with purpose when you begin your Cloud journey. By only moving a few chosen structures and applications to the Cloud, you can choose the ones with the biggest potential for innovation in the new environment and at the same time maintain control over the migration process.
The Cloud Adoption Framework recommends striving for that balance between control/stability and speed/results in the entire migration process to be able to push for innovation and at the same time streamline costs and processes.
While CAF might seem to present the Cloud Adoption Journey in chronological order (STRATEGIZE - PLAN – ADOPT – BUILD/GOVERN/MANAGE – INNOVATE) the process is a lot more circular than that. As mentioned above, trying to migrate all the company’s infrastructure at once would in most cases be a recipe for disaster.
You should gradually do a Cloud Adoption on more and more of your IT landscape, just as you should want to continuously improve, manage, and innovate the applications and environments that are already in the Cloud. This careful and intentional cycle of adoption and innovation also serves to train both new and experienced IT staff to work in the Cloud and ‘think Cloud’.
“In the question of migration vs. innovation, I am an innovation man”
If you ask Magnus of the relationship between migration and innovation in Cloud Adoption, he does not hesitate with his answer:
“When you finally start rolling out the adoption process, you are faced with the question about what you should prioritize in the transition to Cloud. And in the question of migration vs. innovation, I am an innovation man. I guess if you want to, you can pick up your current servers, with your workloads, your different operating systems, and your applications, from where they are today, whether they're hosted with a third party or by yourself, and then plop them down in the Cloud. But that's just migrating servers from one vendor to another”.
He adds that, while there might still be a lot to gain in terms of flexibility, scalability, right sizing, and cost savings, the great benefits from the Cloud come from thinking creatively and leveraging the innovative potential in Cloud technology. Instead of thinking of the innovative potential after the transition to Cloud, Magnus recommends that companies transition with innovation at the forefront of their minds:
“Decision makers should ask themselves: What opportunities do I have to improve what we're doing here? Let’s say I'm running an application, a website, and some databases, and I have users that are going to log into my website and use my service. Well, traditionally, I would host that web application on something like an IIS server inside of a Windows Server. If I were to take it and migrate it to Azure that would be completely technically doable, but it wouldn’t be very innovative. I would just be moving it from A to B. But there is so much more potential in removing the server completely from the equation and just moving the application to a Platform Offering called an App Service. Sure enough, the App Service will still be hosted on a server somewhere and that server will be maintained, patched, and updated – but all of that will no longer be your concern. You just want the application to run smoothly.”
To Magnus, that is where ADOPT/MIGRATE become innovative processes. He explains it as the kind of innovation where you “change your needs rather than conforming to the boundaries you had before”. There is a larger selection of different options to choose from – and instead of thinking about keeping an enormous on-premises IT landscape running and fully updated, companies can start focusing on making the users of their applications and platforms happy.
Teaching the IT staff to operate and innovate in Cloud also opens options to automate processes like building and deploying applications, running test scenarios, and compliance control. In part 3 of this series, the BUILD phase, we will cover those possibilities in greater depth.