Overcoming barriers to enterprise cloud adoption in the digital era

As the cloud market has begun to mature and offerings have improved, enterprises are now taking on cross-company migration to the cloud – rather than isolated projects.

This has highlighted a number of new barriers presently hindering cloud adoption. Overcoming these barriers, detailed below, can be the difference between a company successfully navigating the digital transformation process helping them stay ahead of their customer demands, or falling behind as rivals and start-ups digitalise faster.

Fear

With high-profile cyber security breaches in the news every other day, ranging from government snooping to compromising celebrity photos being hacked, it is no surprise fear is holding back some enterprise decision makers.

Change is always a scary process in business; moving data and intelligence from old apps to new ones is no different. With ongoing security doubts, cloud migration has only become a more daunting process.

Businesses have to be progressively agile and innovative to deal with ever-changing environments, and information security needs to support this. Increasingly agile security models and tools, such as real-time dashboards, are available to automate security monitoring.

Companies must also consider where their data is being hosted geographically, as this can affect who can access it (such as government organisations). At a server level, further security options are available, such as ‘data cloaking’, to provide greater protection of sensitive or mission-critical information.

Complexity

One of the major barriers is the complexity of cloud migration and a lack of awareness of the technical aspects behind it; for example, which type of cloud solution suits a specific application’s architecture.

Other areas of confusion include challenges with multi-user Identify and authorisation management, complex billing processes moving from CAPEX to OPEX, and overly-complicated vendor billing demands. Governance and security are also C-suite headaches – how do you enforce control in the cloud, from selection to lifecycle management? Whose responsibility is it?

In this regard, it is essential to fully understand your business reasons for turning to the cloud as well as your technical requirements. This will improve the likelihood of finding a solution that suits all stakeholders. For example, on analysis, most companies will find a single solution won’t suffice, but a hybrid model of public and private cloud services will likely be more appropriate.

Careful internal planning is the next piece of the jigsaw. Ensure you have the requisite people, processes and technologies in place to ensure smooth adoption – and that everyone sticks to the same roadmap.

Absent experts

Ultimately, there is a lack of genuine cloud experts out there who truly understand the whole end-to-end cloud journey for enterprises.

Businesses must choose their partner carefully by picking a vendor that will support them throughout migration, offering consultancy alongside its products and services to ensure a smooth transitional process.

Inflexibility

Enterprises are increasingly looking for flexibility and scalability in their cloud set-up – i.e. consume what you want, when you want. Why invest millions in computing capacity that you only use a couple of times a day, or even a month?

Unfortunately, many cloud vendors have been slow to catch-up and meet this demand. Presently there are only a few bespoke, pay as you play, offerings on the market.

A clear management vision is crucial here. Who will run and support cloud processes after migration? The key is to understand your target infrastructure and application management models and how these models can be delivered in the cloud - for example, full vs self-management of services.

Third parties should also be considered, to provide and manage specialist services such as billing systems. With a sound internal plan and first-rate vendor on board, you will be able to align operating models to deliver the agility, flexibility and speed of operation required to meet modern customer service demands.

It is important in this regard not to focus solely on digitising existing processes but to redesign from first principles. Ultimately, this is what newer rivals in the marketplace will be doing.

A leap of faith?

Enterprises are under increasing pressure to start or even complete the journey to becoming a fully digital business. Realistically, it is no longer a question of if IT infrastructure will be moved to the cloud, but when.

However, with the right approach – including a clear corporate vision, careful planning and a healthy vendor-customer relationship, which includes migration, consultancy and ongoing management support - enterprise decision makers need not take a leap of faith into the cloud.

Sean Catlin is Head of Digital Go-To-Market for Global Financial Services at Atos.