How And Why Tech Leaders Should Strive For 'Cloud-Savvy' Strategies

  • 05/11/2020

Over the past few years, I’ve witnessed organizations across many industries rush to the cloud to reap its benefits. I’ve also seen business leaders reconsider and move back on-prem when they realize the cloud doesn’t fit every need. MarketsandMarkets research predicts that the cloud computing market will burgeon, and deploying cloud infrastructure is a reigning mentality, but business and IT leaders need to stay smart about their deployment options. One size doesn’t fit all, and workloads themselves change over time, so the right cloud choice today might not be the right one tomorrow. Cloud-savvy strategies that address businesses’ unique needs will lead the way. 

There are many factors on a leader's mind when they evaluate which infrastructure will match their business: Do we have the tools we need? Which vendor should we select? What roles will we need to fill? And most importantly, have we accounted for all the right pieces to build and sustain a cloud strategy? With so many elements to consider, here’s what to keep top of mind when working toward a flexible, agile cloud solution and team.

Ensure interoperability: match the cloud on the left (public) with the cloud on the right (private).

Many organizations adopt a cloud strategy only to realize it’s not quite as smooth or seamless as they’d imagined. Leaders often face challenges in managing both environments, from app and data mobility issues impacting agility to operational silos slowing down response and innovation.

It’s important to begin by making private and public cloud infrastructures symmetric. Ensuring your public and private environments look and function the same allows the flexibility to move applications where they make the most sense without needing to rearchitect them, which is often extremely expensive and time-consuming. It can also significantly simplify your operations because your IT team won’t need to manage completely different environments, while policy for improving security can easily apply across both cloud and on-prem. 

It’s worth investing in tools to help you accomplish this symmetry: The right hybrid and multicloud solutions can provide a nearly identical experience across both private and public cloud. Without that, even the best-designed technology solutions won’t solve the operational problems that often plague organizations struggling to manage different cloud environments. Ultimately, application portability, license portability and operational simplicity are the hallmarks of a successful hybrid and multicloud strategy and the key things to consider when selecting a solution. IT leaders should start by asking whether their organizations’ business-critical applications will be easily moved to the right environments. Will they be able to take advantage of their existing investments? Will their current IT team be able to manage them? Once they have clear answers to these questions, they’ll be able to find a hybrid or multicloud solution that works not only on paper, but also for their specific needs.

When hiring, think generalists instead of specialists.

In Daniel Epstein’s book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, he shares stories of how athletes Roger Federer and Tiger Woods rose in their careers. Golf prodigy Tiger Woods (who he says could already beat adults at age 5) did little else during his formative years, knowing his golf talent would bring him success. Roger Federer, on the other hand, was reportedly a “sports mutt,” dabbling in all different athletics and dominating the tennis landscape despite not having put in as many hours of practice as typical world-class athletes. Epstein notes that specializing in a certain discipline might mean advancing quickly, but it might also mean a faster path to burnout. Those who experiment with multiple career options are often more employable and in control of their careers than those who don’t because they enjoy greater confidence and more holistic experiences.

The same tends to go for IT generalists — in the cloud era, being cloud-savvy often means hiring big-picture, cross-disciplined thinkers. It’s a constantly changing tech space, and generalist hires tend to stay with the company for longer because they can quickly adapt to any new routes their roles might take. The long-term success of an IT employee now depends on their ability to understand how technologies interact and pivot with shifting times.

Thinking bigger picture also means hiring more for soft skills than leaders had previously for tech-forward roles. As mentioned in this Inc. article, leaders are placing an increasing emphasis on hiring for emotional and social skills. These soft skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking and communication, will only become more necessary and valuable as skills that are uniquely human (and that no robot can automate). McKinsey even notes that skills such as creativity, innovation, negotiation, leadership and empathy will be in higher demand to drive more complex activities in the age of AI.

Introduce ways to free your team’s time.

A key component of a cloud-savvy strategy is providing your team with the resources and time to stay on top of new skills they need to do their jobs well. If your IT department spends 90% of its time keeping the lights on, applying patches and completing other time-consuming tasks that add little value but need to be done, they’ll never have time to pick up skills that help move the needle.

Adopting the right infrastructure that supports automation can reduce and ease day-to-day management tasks for IT teams of all sizes and in all industries. You can use automation to shift from “the dull and the dangerous,” as McKinsey put it, “paving the way for more engaging work and learning.” Your team can easily automate routine tasks, such as provisioning, upgrades and scaling of applications, to ensure the team can focus on more strategic activities.

The past few years have brought cloud-first to the forefront — and Covid-19 this year has made it even more important to support a flexible, remote workforce. Consider these three points, and strive for a cloud-savvy strategy to help take your team to the next level. Cloud has introduced complications to our modern workflow, but strategic changes can help your team make the most of its benefits.