INSIGHT 08: Adopting Multi-Cloud (Part 3)
In this series “INSIGHT: The Technical Director’s Perspective” I’ll share my years of hands-on experience to demystify the Cloud and help you gain control over your IT roadmap.
Digital Transformation is a strategic business decision that every organisation must undertake to remain competitive in an ever-changing global market.
Organisations that haven’t already begun to lay the foundations for a digital-first, multi-cloud future are already on the backfoot. And those too slow to change will fall by the wayside as more agile and forward-thinking competitors replace them.
Therefore, business leaders must understand why transformation is imperative for the organisation to grow and thrive.
They must recognise the positive impact that multi-cloud has on the business in terms of provisioning and processing times, business continuity, resource optimisation and more when used as part of a greater Digital Transformation initiative.
To do that, you need to be able to measure and showcase the business benefits of adopting a multi-cloud approach to IT.
Here are the business benefits of multi-cloud that you can measure, qualitatively and quantitively, to demonstrate its return on investment.
Finding core metrics
The first place you should start is your IT ticket system.
If your business has been using your ticket system properly, you should have a backlog of tickets that give you detailed information into current IT issues and reveal any patterns affecting end users (for instance, an increase in tickets during rollouts).
Whether they’re logged with your internal team or an external IT support company, you can analyse this data and use it as a benchmark to gauge the success of your multi-cloud rollout.
It’s important to dig deep for meaningful metrics, but not to waste time searching for everything that you can measure. Focus on the touchpoints that matter most to the productivity of end users and the security of your systems.
To do that, talk to stakeholders in every business unit.
Work with them (and an external consultant if necessary) to map out every business process, looking for ‘pain points’ as well as general improvements that you can make.
Mapping core processes
Firstly, you want to identify the processes you want to map. Underperforming tasks, business-critical roles and tasks that directly impact your end-users or customers are all great places to start.
Secondly, bring together the right people to map out these processes. This should include the stakeholders and external consultants (if necessary) as previously discussed. However, you should also include those performing the tasks. You want to talk to those who manage as well as those who do.
Thirdly, gather the information necessary to map out that process.
Where does it start and end?
What are the steps required to get from A to B?
In what order do they happen?
What are the inputs and outputs of the process?
And most importantly, who does what, when, where and how?
Finally, you want to draw a baseline process map to get an idea of what staff are doing and how. Here, you can look for bottlenecks and places for improvement.
How can multi-cloud improve each task?
Can hosting in private cloud reduce app loading and data processing times?
Would an external IT team be better suited to managing infrastructure, so there are more internal IT resources dedicated to resolving staff issues?
Combining data from your IT ticket system and from mapping out core business process will give you an unbiased view over your existing environment, creating a basis from which to measure the success of change created by adopting multi-cloud.
Measuring business continuity
Another two figures to measure (and a critical part of any business continuity plan) are the business’ Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO).
RPO is the point in time at which your systems need to be able to restore back to, whether 1 minute ago or 1 day ago depending on your reliance on data, in the event of data loss or downtime.
RTO is the length of time (downtime) required to restore individual or groups of systems and services that an organisation deems acceptable to get the business running again.
These two figures allow you to measure the time it takes to recover key services when invoking your disaster recovery plan.
Business Continuity is an important part of any digital transformation endeavour, and resiliency is one of the key reasons for adopting a multi-cloud solution.
Not only are you reducing your single points of failure, but you are also removing your dependency on one vendor or solution.
Rather than hosting everything on-site or with one provider, multi-cloud empowers you to seamlessly blend multiple providers platforms, in different geographical regions, without impacting on business efficiency.
For example, one of our customers hosts business critical data in their private cloud on-site, whilst using Synextra’s managed DRaaS.
Our DR solution uses live replication of data that, in the event of invoking DR, they can spin up in virtual machines on our infrastructure.
Data loss is reduced to seconds and downtime is reduced to minutes.
An effective multi-cloud solution should mitigate downtime and data loss for your business too.
Key executives and senior management will always be working to improve the fiscal efficiency of the business.
They are, obviously, concerned about the cost of IT.
So, it’s crucial that the cost of the transformation is well-documented and easily converted into digestible actionable information for all stakeholders.
Every business decision will be influenced by the financial upside any new solution can deliver and how much is will cost to achieve.
Therefore, you need to know the current and future state costs, as well as transition costs, for everything from hardware to staff.
Establishing current-state costs
Establishing the current-state costs includes the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), not just the cost of purchasing your current infrastructure.
The TCO can include, but isn’t limited to, the following items:
- The infrastructure that stores and processes data and applications, including servers and storage
- Any software and applications that used, including software licenses
- The network that these services use, from the internal LAN to company-wide WAN, including site connections
- Current operating costs for maintaining applications and VMs
- The cost of powering IT – Not just fluctuating energy costs, such as those for powering and cooling servers, but fixed costs associated with real-estate and square footage occupied by on-premise IT
- Any external, outsourced workloads and costs, such as service management, external help desks and remote hands
- Overhead costs associated with project management
Some of these costs will decrease, especially when migrating to more efficient, right-sized environments in the cloud.
Determine future-state and transition costs
The next question is: how does the future-state differ?
The TCO of any future solution will encompass the above cost-factors. A cost-benefit analysis will compare these prices to what they would be in the future state.
In a multi-cloud environment, you will have to calculate these costs per solution, as they are likely to be lower individually, but costs can be duplicated and pile up if left unsupervised.
Finally, what costs will your business incur during the transformation?
- Overlap or ‘swing’ infrastructure. This includes any additional hardware or temporary cloud solution required for the migration
- Additional software, such as running licenses in parallel
- Any network changes required for the transition, such as additional vLAN
One last point to consider is both internal and external staff time required to complete the transition. An external resource can usually complete a transition in a quicker and cheaper manner when you factor in the day-to-day tasks of internal IT staff.
Measuring important data beyond just the long-term cost savings of adopting multi-cloud will help you validate the transformation process to all stakeholders, even those stuck with legacy mindsets.
Not only to prove to stakeholders the return-on-investment (ROI), but to also encourage further investment for the next ‘stage’ of transformation, as discussed in the last section.
This ‘business case’ will also provide the context of the transformation, as well as the benefits to stakeholders within the business.
And with a shared vision and the support of the stakeholders, you too can successfully implement multi-cloud as part of your digital transformation plans.
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