Which Cloud Adopter am I? Finding useful patterns in the chaos of cloud transformation. Part 1

Written by
Etienne Gadient

A group of passionate Technologists, Consultants, and Trusted Disruptors focused on the maelstrom that is Cloud services and the IT industry. Get decisions close to the data, be disruptive, and design for cloud in scale. You've been warned.

Which Cloud Adopter am I? Finding useful patterns in the chaos of cloud transformation. Part 1

Written by
Etienne Gadient

Which Cloud Adopter am I? Finding useful patterns in the chaos of cloud transformation. Part 1

Written by
Etienne Gadient

We've seen a plethora of clients struggle through the transition to cloud enablement, and one myth that is commonly held is that every company goes through the same journey and process.  If you have ever been pitched by a cloud migration tool or one of the major public cloud service providers (CSP)...the message is that the journey is really simple.  Just pick up your workloads, move them and "voila!"  You are now out of the data center business, world peace can be solved,and end world hunger!  While we are big fans of these tools and CSPs, we find that the reality of transitioning an organization to a cloud native posture requires several facets to change...applications, organizational models, financials, operating models, not to mention rethinking the software development pipeline (workflow).  

To add to the complexity, are you a single cloud or multi-cloud enabled organization?  Are you focused on embracing SaaS or just want to write web applications and microservices?  Are you focused on data transformation or finding familiar replacement services to ones in your data center?  Does your current lineup of systems swing Microsoft, Unix, or a mix of every variety of operating system since 1992?  Depending on your answers, each of the big three cloud service providers have a different set of capabilities with key reasons to embrace or avoid them.

We realized we needed to dive deeper into the data to find patterns.    

Know Thyself

Are best of breed services or  "end to end integration" king in today's enterprise?  The true answer lies in the Latin proverb "temet nosce" (aka know thyself).    

And just as any journey has to be expressed with a starting point and a destination, we've learned to measure cloud enablement success by defining success measurements not only by the desired results, but from where it starts.  

Profiling change

As a trusted disruptor for cloud enablement, the ATC crew partnered with CloudLogic to develop a series of cloud adopter archetypes to put a lens on change.  Over the next several articles, we will be detailing different archetype profiles and the corresponding strengths and pitfalls for cloud adoption.  

When "lensing change", "From and To" conversations are never "one size fits all."  Indeed, it is rare to find an enterprise that has each division at the same level of maturity and urgency to support their business so we profile divisions, groups or teams and then visualize them into data and context as a comprehensive profile for change.  This empowers the IT and business leadership to better understand the road ahead, work with teams/divisions individually and set realistic goals and expectations.  Leaders and opportunities emerge. 

Charting Patterns

As we started mapping common patterns observed in our clients, we realized that there were two defining measurements that would differentiate each archetype.  Specifically, the maturity of the organization and their urgency to embrace cloud services.  One key element to consider is that not every enterprise wants to (or should) be a multi-cloud enabled portfolio manager, and in fact, the costs and complexity of doing so may far exceed the benefits achieved by tooling and automation. 

  • Maturity: Wikipedia defines IT maturity as "Maturity is a measurement of the ability of an organization for continuous improvement in a particular discipline.   The higher the maturity, the greater the chances that incidents or errors will lead to improvements either in the quality or in the use of the resources of the discipline as implemented by the organization."
  • Urgency:  We see cloud enablement urgency coming from one or more of three common drivers. Typically:
  1. External competition moving faster or more nimbly, creating competitive pressure
  2. A significant infrastructure or application refresh event creating an impending deadline and need 
  3. A growing number of teams/divisions having gone independently to the cloud and leadership looking to get back control

To that end, in collaboration with CloudLogic, here is the Cloud Adoption Archetype Matrix (CAAM)

Cloud Quadrants

Defining Characteristics 

In this first of the series, we are going to give a summary of some of the unique characteristics for each archetype. We will deconstruct the journey, risks, and opportunities for each archetype in later articles

  • Cloud Avoiders - tend to distrust any (public, private) cloud services.  They cannot control them and usually are skeptical of any cloud benefits.  We call members of this archetype "Server Huggers".  The IT organization sees itself as in the data center business and as its competitive advantage. 
  • SaaS Only - Does not see technology as a core competency nor a competitive advantage. IT has always been a significant cost center and SaaS is a convenient way to transition out of the data center business.  SaaS only clients see IT as difficult, costly and frustrating...a necessary evil and seek to "outsource" it.    
  • Cost Conscious - typically manage application portfolios that are bought "off the shelf" rather than developed.  As a system integrator rather than a development shop, they typically focus on cloud unit cost and see most cloud as simply more costly.   Will typically only adopt a cloud service if it is financially advantageous.  
  • Cloud Opportunist - covers many mid to late adopter organizations.  Cloud is intriguing and something to be considered, but application placement is determined case by case based upon a specific use case, capability or requirement.  Deployment to the cloud is architected per business service or application.  An example is an enterprise committed to maintaining their own application and Data Center investments while leveraging a cloud service provider to develop machine learning capabilities.  
  • Cloud Developer - Usually startup organizations, an enterprise division, or an early adopter team.  This archetype is specifically focused on groups who develop their own applications rather than buy.  Embracing modern pipelines such as DevOps and CI/CD along with a strong preference on microservices, a Cloud Developer usually makes architectural decisions specific to the project rather than the enterprise, to move faster and not let IT get in the way.  
  • Cloud First - Typically an aspiration for enterprises moving to cloud, and may be a stop in the longer journey.  Cloud First organizations architect one or more clouds for scale, usually through a governing and supporting team called a cloud center of excellence (CCoE).  This organization might embrace a hybrid mix of traditional, private, and public cloud services, but is transitioning entirely to public and private cloud services over time.
  • Cloud Native - Has transformed its application portfolio to support cloud native services such as containers, serverless, PaaS services and tools.  A Cloud Native organization has embraced a single major cloud ecosystem and has optimized around that Cloud Service Provider.   Cloud Native members are traditionally larger startups and cloud early adopting enterprises who are fully committed to driving rapid innovation.  They are definitely out of the data center business and struggle to grasp why anyone still is. 
  • Multi-Cloud Enabled Portfolio Managers - Enterprises who aspire to support multi-cloud portfolios tend to be larger enterprises who can more rapidly achieve the necessary critical mass to support the foundational requirements of multiple cloud native deployments.  Typically, they are looking to balance best of breed capabilities with an actuarial view (those life insurance guys who can tell us within +-10% of how long we are going to live based upon the pattern we fall in)  of applications and infrastructure.  

In each of these archetypes, the urgency and maturity level are unique and more importantly frame the path of their cloud journey.  Please join us as we explore each of these archetype patterns and their potential cloud journeys.  

Which ones will your enterprise be?  Stay tuned where we will discuss the journeys from one archetype to another.