Understanding the business challenges of multi-cloud
This might be a bit of a bold statement, but almost every modern enterprise has adopted multi-cloud already. They may offer Office 365 to their workers, have their customer base in the SaaS proposition of Salesforce, book trips through SAP Concur, manage their workforce in Workday, and run meetings through Zoom. It doesn’t get more multi-cloud than that. However, that’s not what enterprises mean by going multi-cloud.
It starts with a strategy, something that will be discussed in the next chapter. But before a company sets the strategy, it must be aware of the challenges it will encounter. These challenges are not technical in the first place, but more organizational: a company that plans for digital transformation must create a comprehensive roadmap that includes the organization of the transformation, the assessment of the present mode of operations, and the IT landscape, and next do a mapping of the IT services that are eligible for cloud transformation.
All of this must be included in a business case. In short: what is the best solution for a specific service? Can we move an application to the cloud as is, or is it a monolith that needs redesigning into microservices? What are the benefits of moving applications to the cloud? What about compliance, privacy, and security? A crucial point to consider is: how much effort will the transformation take and how do we organize it? By evaluating the services in various clouds and various solutions, businesses will be able to obtain an optimized solution that eventually fulfills the business requirements. In Chapter 2, Business Acceleration Using the Multi-Cloud Strategy, we will learn more about the business drivers for adopting multi-cloud.
In the next section, we will briefly address the organizational challenge before the start of the transformation. Chapter 2 talks about the business strategy, and Chapter 3, Starting the Multi-Cloud Journey, discusses the first steps of the actual transformation.
Setting the scene for cloud transformation
In this section, the first basic steps to start the cloud transformation are discussed. They may seem quite obvious, but a lot of companies try to skip some of these steps in order to gain speed—but all too often, skipping steps lead to failures, slowing down the transformation.
The first step is creating an accurate overview of the IT portfolio of the company: a catalog of all the applications and technology used, including the operational procedures. Simply listing that the company applies IT service management is not sufficient. What matters is how service management is applied. Think of incident, problem, change, and configuration management. Also, list the service levels to which services are delivered to the company, and thus to its business.
The following step is to map this catalog to a cloud catalog. The most important question is: what would be the benefit for the customers if services were transitioned to the cloud? To answer that question, the enterprise architect must address topics such as cloud affinity, various cloud service models, and the agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in terms of the business, security, costs, and technical debt of the company. It all adds up in a business case.
In Chapter 3, Starting the Multi-Cloud Journey, you will learn more about the transition and transformation of environments to the cloud, addressing topics such as microservices and cloud-native.
Addressing organizational challenges
Digital and, as part of that, cloud transformation start with people. The Open Group released a digital operating model that shows how roles and skills are changing in a digital enterprise, using cloud technology. The model is continuously updated, reflecting the continuous change in transformation.
Figure 1.4: New roles in digital transformation (courtesy of Rob Akershoek)
The model shows a demarcation between enabling and product teams. The model assumes that there are more or less centralized teams that take care of the foundation, the landing zone, enabling the product teams to autonomously develop and deploy products.
Important new roles in the model are the customer journey analyst and the customer journey designer. The model places the VOC at the heart of everything.
Another important aspect of this model is the role of architecture. We can clearly see the hierarchy in architecture, starting with enterprise architecture setting the standards. The domain and value stream architects are key in translating the standards to the customer requirements, defining the architectures for the various products and releases. These architects are more business-focused. The IT and cloud platform architects are in the enabling layer of the model.
Organizing the skills of the architect
Let’s start at the top of the tower with the enterprise architect. First, what is enterprise architecture? The enterprise architect collects business requirements that support the overall business strategy and translates these into architecture that enables solution architects to develop solutions to deliver products and services. Requirements are key inputs for this and that’s the reason why requirements management sits in the middle of TOGAF, the commonly used framework for enterprise architecture.
In modern companies, enterprise architects also need to adapt to the new reality of agile DevOps and overall disruption through digital transformation. In TOGAF, technology is an enabler, something that simply supports the business architecture. That is changing. Technology might no longer be just an enabler, but actually drive the business strategy. With that, even the role of the enterprise architect is changing.
In fact, due to digital transformation, the role of every architect is changing. The architect is shifting toward more of an engineering leader, a servant leader in agile projects where teams work in a completely different fashion with agile trains, DevSecOps, and scrum, all led by product management. Indeed: you build it, you run it. That defines a different role for architecture. Architecture becomes more of a “floating” architecture, developing as the product development evolves and the builds are executed in an iterative way. There’s still architecture, but it’s more embedded into development. That comes with different skills.
The architect is shifting toward more of an engineering leader, that is, a servant leader. That’s true. The logical next question then would be: do we still need architects or do we need leading engineers in agile-driven projects? The answer is both yes and no and it’s only valid for digital architecture.
No, if architecture is seen as the massive upfront designs before a project can be started. Be aware: you will still need an architect to design a scanner. Or a house. A car. Something physical. The difference for an IT architect is that IT is software these days; it’s all code. Massive, detailed upfront designs are not needed to get started with software, which doesn’t mean that upfront designs are not needed at all. But we can start small, with a minimal viable product (MVP), and then iterate to the eventual product. There will always be a request for a first architecture or a design.
But what is architecture then? Learn from architect and author Gregor Hohpe: architecture is providing options. According to Hohpe, agile methods and architecture are ways to deal with uncertainty and that leads to the conclusion that working in an agile way allows us to benefit from architecture, since it provides options.
That’s what this book is about: options. Options in cloud providers, the services that they provide, and how businesses can use these, starting with the next chapter, about defining the multi-cloud strategy for businesses.