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The 5 principles all successful cloud teams utilise

  1. Make sure you are doing cloud for the right reasons

Cloud can help your enterprise accelerate your time-to-market for key new products and features. It can help you unlock your mountain of big data to personalise engagements with your customers in real time. It can lower your IT cost base and streamline your application ops processes to be more efficient, reducing dependencies on infrastructure support teams. If none of those pique your interest, take your pick:

So, think outside the box – for example, by picking the number of deployments in production per day as a marker of success. If you are doing the same amount of releases as you would on-prem, then your cloud project is not a success. This highlights that strategy and practice have diverged.

Pick an application or project that best showcases this reason. Set Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and most importantly, measure your progress. This will not only allow you to gauge success, but also drive the right decision making. Give yourself the opportunity to pause and reflect.

What are OKRs?

Objectives are significant, concrete, action-oriented and inspirational while key results are the measurement. Think what does this organisation want to be in the world, and what does the world need this organisation to be?


See this TED Talk by John Doerr for a more detailed exposition: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_doerr_why_the_secret_to_success_is_setting_the_right_goals

  1. Turn executives into cheerleaders 

Transformational projects are hard. They require commitment from all technology and business areas. Without executive buy-in, people will just revert to their day job and the whole initiative will become a “side-of-the-desk” exercise.

Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, is of the opinion that “the single biggest differentiator between those who talk a lot about the cloud and those who have actual success is the senior leadership team’s conviction that they want to take the organisation to the cloud”.

Inertia is a very powerful blocker in large organisations. Change needs to be driven through awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. Cheerleaders in the form of executives can evangelise cloud and ensure that the organisation’s culture embraces the evolution.

Here’s Prosci’s view of change management through executive leadership:

  1. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel

AWS offers the broadest and deepest set of services, the most comprehensive suite of security capabilities and compliance certifications, and the fastest pace of innovation. The range of AWS native services are broad, and each service goes deep. Most importantly, AWS will out-innovate your organisation. They have an infinite amount of resources at their disposal – they will outpace your innovation tenfold. So get on the AWS innovation bus.

To put it in perspective, in 2014 AWS released 516 significant services and features. In 2015 AWS launched 722 features and services. In 2016 AWS launched 1 017 new services and features. In 2017 and 2018 they doubled that. The pace of their innovation is only accelerating.

Download this interactive PDF to navigate the plethora of new services launched at AWS’ re:Invent 2018 conference, like S3 Object Lock, Lake Formation, managed Blockchain, Control Tower, Security Hub, KMS Custom Key Store, Outposts, Forecast and many, many more.

Common patterns are emerging and there is now some consensus on best practice. So, give careful thought to the services and tools you choose. There should be a valid reason why you are not using AWS native services. Transit gateway and Control Tower are two examples of AWS Native services that will help accelerate your landing zone implementation and allow you to go to cloud quicker.

  1. Put your people first

When it comes to cloud adoption, the biggest challenge isn’t technology – it’s the people and processes that must change and adapt to that technology. Identify cultural strengths already in your team to be the enablers of change. In addition, listen to your customer. It’s all about the developer and application-team experience. Identify your early adopters and get them on a learning path immediately.

Here are some training tips:

  • Ensure active engagement immediately
  • The best results are achieved through a mentored ramp-up program
  • Assigning a mentor builds a foundation of subject-matter experts
  1. Address the elephants in the room: data privacy, risk and security 

Navigating the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) around data sovereignty and privacy with cloud in a regulated environment (like financial services) can be tiring.

The truth is that once you have assessed the risk of storing and processing data in the cloud, the types of controls required become clear and, in some cases, relatively easy to implement.

One of the initial challenges you will face is how to communicate the fact that cloud-like agility (time-to-market) and autonomy does not have to preclude the governance and control required in an enterprise-level financial services or listed company.

If cloud is implemented correctly, there is no trade-off between control and freedom. Risk teams need to be educated on what the real risks of cloud are. Once they have been, instead of being known as the “Dr No’s” of your organisation, they too can become your cheerleaders.