From our work with thousands of organizations around the world, all of whom are at different stages in their cloud journey, we’ve identified patterns and best practices for mature cloud management practices. While many of these tactics start by focusing efforts on regaining control of your cloud’s complexity (improving visibility into your cloud environment is huge here), they ultimately transform into company-wide strategies aimed at driving long-term innovation and success.
Leading organizations are establishing a formalized Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), sometimes known as a Cloud Business or Cloud Strategy Office, to drive their cloud maturity roadmap. The CCoE is a cross-functional working group that governs the usage of the cloud across their organization and fosters open communication and collaboration across all functional areas of the company (learn more about building a CCoE here).
Once your CCoE has been established, stakeholders from across the organization must drive consistency and find opportunities to share best practices amongst different teams and lines of business. An effective way to do this is to adopt a framework that can be used to drive improvement in key areas.
The four phases of cloud maturity
Each functional area of your organization’s CCoE—financial management, operations, and security and compliance—will move independently through these four phases of maturity, and it’s important that your CCoE thinks critically about what these four phases mean for each functional area.
Most organizations struggle in the cloud as a result of poor visibility into their (ever-growing) decentralized multicloud environment. Without visibility across their entire cloud ecosystem, it’s difficult for organizations to do things like accurately predict and forecast costs or identify security vulnerabilities in a timely manner. While we’ve seen most organizations focus on tackling cost first in regards to visibility, usage, configuration, performance, and security are equally important areas for organizations to spend time prioritizing. While every organization’s cloud maturity roadmap will look different, gaining visibility into each functional area is a crucial first step.
Optimization, which is the process of finding opportunities to be more efficient, spans across all facets of your organization’s cloud practice. Identify opportunities to reduce your spend (e.g. deleting unattached EBS volumes or deleting old snapshots) and freeing up employee time by making operational improvements (e.g. how much time would you save if you stopped manually calculating potential Reserved Instance savings?) are just a few areas where you can tackle low-hanging optimization efforts.
This process may be manual at first, which is why it’s important to document your approaches so that other teams can take advantage of your lessons learned when they go to implement similar optimization efforts in their own projects.
Cloud governance and automation
Governance consists of defining the ‘ideal state’ so you can monitor when drift occurs. Typically, your organization’s ideal cloud state is an optimized one. Build governance policies that monitor your environment for resources and actions that don’t align with your optimization efforts, and then automate the response and remediation of those policies to ultimately free up your employees to focus on more critical tasks.
It’s common for our customers to find that changing existing processes can be challenging. Start small at first by mandating that all governance policies require manual approvals before any automated remediation action is taken. As you (and your teams) become more comfortable, you can advance to more hands-off workflows, where governance policies take action to remediate a problem automatically, without stakeholder approval, and a simple follow-up notification is sent out alerting team members an action was taken on their behalf. If your organization hopes to scale their optimization efforts, automated governance needs to be a part of your future roadmap.
With all the optimization and governance efforts you’re making across the different functional areas of your organization, it’s important that you’re able to clearly show how your cloud strategy is driving business-wide transformation and impacting your organization’s corporate goals. This alignment is crucial for understanding how all the changes your organization is making ultimately impacts your bottom line.
For example, this could include understanding how your cloud KPIs are directly linked to COGS and margins (cloud financial management), new product innovation/competitive win rate (cloud operations), and compliance with industry standards (security and compliance).
Where are you?
At any point in time, an organization is likely to straddle different areas of maturity across cloud financial management, operations, and security. Your organization could have just started working on building automated governance policies to improve its operations (having already gained visibility and worked through optimization efforts) but are still working on improving visibility into their security posture—and that’s ok.
The biggest challenges we’ve seen when talking with our customers often relates to people and processes, rather than the technology itself. Reimagining tools and processes that have worked for many years is never easy but with strong cross-departmental collaboration (spearheaded by the CCoE), you’ll be able to start streamlining workflows and marching towards a more mature, successful cloud ecosystem.
Read our whitepaper Benchmarking Your Cloud Maturity: A Framework for Best Practices to learn more about where your organization plots on the cloud maturity curve and access best practices proven to help organizations be successful at each phase of cloud maturity.