Those of you who know me, know I tend to keep hold of a topic once I've got it. Cloud Services is just one of those things. So here is (another) blog post from me on why your business needs to spend more time thinking about what is best for them, and less time following others into "the Cloud" because "everyone is doing it".
Today, most organisations will be consuming Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) in some form. For SaaS and PaaS, much of the Cloud orchestration (if there is any), is invisible to you. As a consumer, you only experience the resulting "service" and pay for what you use. This can be incredibly convenient, but it does not mean that everyone has everything running within a cloud-orchestrated environment, it just means that most organisations are doing something which involves the use of Cloud Services. This is where statements like "98% of companies are in the Cloud" come from.
Cloud Services can help organisations achieve some amazing things which you couldn't do cost effectively before: Machine Learning, Big Data Processing, IoT transaction processing etc. This isn't so much moving to "the Cloud", as achieving more with it. By taking advantage of Cloud Services, organisations are adding to what they already do to improve their services. They are making use of vast amounts of resource for a relatively short time and achieving more. In this way, healthcare providers are able to save lives that would not have been saved before; government departments can process and present data to citizens (and act upon it) in ways not previously possible; small businesses can deliver enterprise-level services at a much lower cost, enabling them to compete with larger competitors and more besides. The investment and rate of development in this area is truly impressive. These are services which you can use on your own terms, to deal with your specific requirements. Generally speaking, you don't need to transform all of your existing services to benefit from the Cloud.
Many organisations will choose to operate their own Cloud Model on their own terms, many will offload the responsibility to a global third-party provider and some will use a nationwide or local cloud provider. You could call all of this "the Cloud" - it's not about where your data or applications are (contrary to popular opinion), it's about how changes and updates are orchestrated and automated flexibly within your organisation.
Some organisations will need to continue as they are for a while, whilst they get other things sorted out. This is okay too - your business is your priority. Many applications do not play nicely with a true Cloud operating model today. The model relies on workloads which are able to deal with operations on a dynamic sliding scale. Applications may have dependencies on particular services which are difficult to replicate in a Cloud model right now. This is where many organisations see value and lower transformational risk from a Hybrid Cloud approach.
Rather than say "how fast can we get to the Cloud?", the more important questions should be:
I've seen companies who really flourish with a Cloud Operating Model, but those who have been most successful have either made sure they can either Orchestrate or Automate workloads themselves effectively or; made sure that they can exploit those Cloud Services which specifically address their needs.
Remember, Cloud is not really where you put your IT-stuff, it is how you operate it. There is a lot of misconception on this point alone.
In 2016, Dropbox moved most of their data and services from AWS into their own dedicated platform (read more here). Does this mean that they moved "out of the Cloud"? No. Their services are architected in pretty much the same way. They just worked out that at that point in time, it was better for their business to operate their own Cloud Architecture. Have they abandoned AWS? No. They still utilise it for many aspects of what they do. They've just worked out that, as their business has transformed, elements of their business are a great fit for the Public Cloud and some elements are better served by something within their complete control. They have determined that this Hybrid approach is best for their business right now.
I'll close this post with one last point. The most important thing when looking at any technology decision is to keep your own business in mind. Saying you are "going to the Cloud" for the sake of external credibility is understandable, just be prepared for one tricky question: