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Perspectives Edition 28
Perspectives Edition 28
Edition #28 | August 2023

Maximizing cloud: An operating model to drive value and efficiency

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Introduction: Cloud is now ‘BAU’ …  but enterprises don’t find it easy


Drawn by the promises of efficiency, cost optimization and infrastructure on demand, even in a tough economic climate, organizations are increasing investments in cloud-based services in a bid to boost organizational performance and resilience. But, as many are finding out, operating in the cloud comes with new complexities, and even higher costs, if migration is not grounded in a sound strategy.  


In this issue of Perspectives, Thoughtworks cloud experts break down the building blocks for a holistic cloud approach that enables organizations to manage risks, maximize gains and realize the cloud’s full potential.


Top ways businesses are revisiting cloud strategy in the current economic climate 

Source: Google Cloud Survey


The path to a cloud-first operating model 


Section i. Acknowledging reality, and making the difficult decisions  


A realistic assessment of adoption readiness is a fundamental first step for any enterprise embarking on the cloud journey. Legacy systems can prove to be mysterious black boxes that may tempt organizations to settle for a ‘lift-and-shift’ approach to cloud migration, but achieving greater gains often requires coming to terms with these systems, and effecting deeper change.


Tools such as assessment frameworks are available to help enterprises get to grips with their current ’business as usual,’ identify priorities and stumbling blocks, and create a roadmap for a smoother cloud journey.


Photo headshot of Sarah Taraporewalla Director of Enterprise Modernization, Platforms and Cloud, Thoughtworks
“Organizations have failed with cloud by concentrating on the easy things, not business value and risk.”


Sarah Taraporewalla
Director of Enterprise Modernization, Platforms and Cloud, Thoughtworks

Section ii. Fostering new ways of thinking 


The cloud journey can essentially be broken down into three parts – the build phase, the design phase, and the run phase – each with its own team and process challenges. Without a defined framework and guidelines for important practices such as security and compliance that run across all phases, the cognitive burden on each team will invariably increase and inefficiencies become more glaring as applications scale up.


Establishing firm policies and guardrails can give teams across the board clear guidance to navigate uncertainties and provide a solid foundation for resource optimization and reaping economies of scale.


Photo headshot of Rashmi Tambe Head of Enterprise Modernization, Platform and Cloud, Thoughtworks India
“If you’ve not thought about the building blocks – meaning you don’t have guidelines or frameworks for your application teams to migrate or modernize applications – everyone’s going to struggle.”


Rashmi Tambe
Head of Enterprise Modernization, Platform and Cloud, Thoughtworks India

Section iii. Coming to terms with costs, and asserting control


Preventing the cloud journey from derailing by cost overruns requires organizations to prioritize financial rigor. This can’t stop at pursuing cost visibility but has to extend to cost forecasting, which allows the enterprise to proactively align cloud investments to business value.


Effective cost optimization involves four mutually reinforcing stages, from getting the right data, to finding long-term fixes to problematic processes, and retaining those benefits by embedding a culture that encourages appropriate resource usage. 


The four stages of effective cloud cost optimization

Source: Thoughtworks


Section iv. Extending governance and security guardrails  


To make the most of cloud, organizations have to strike a balance between preventing loopholes and instilling overly rigid protocols that stifle innovation and create inefficiencies. Building governance and security into processes early and automating where possible to minimize friction or human errors are typically the best paths to achieving this goal. 


Another key to good governance is enabling observability across a comprehensive set of metrics that together equip stakeholders across the organization with a consistent understanding of where problems arise and what changes are needed. 


The eight key axes of observability

Source: Thoughtworks


Section v. The people factor


Long after the move to the cloud, keeping the right team structures and skills in place will prove integral to the organization’s continued success. From upskilling internal teams, to hiring new talent and working with external partners, organizations can pursue multiple approaches to creating the best formula for the right talent mix. 


Throughout the process, aligning teams to clear objectives and encouraging more open, cross-organizational communication will help propel the business’s cloud investments in the right direction.  


Photo headshot of Ajay Chankramath, Head of Delivery & Cloud Infrastructure practice, Thoughtworks
“One big challenge is that when we talk to organizations about cloud migration and the business, we’re usually talking with the technology people. It needs to be a more holistic conversation with product management, especially since it's a business value activity.”


Ajay Chankramath
Head of Delivery & Cloud Infrastructure Practice, Thoughtworks

Section vi. Measuring and maintaining success


Setting well-defined benchmarks and baking these into the cloud strategy from the get-go will ensure the enterprise has a shared understanding of what this strategy is designed to achieve. It’s important that even if technical, these metrics ultimately feed into business performance indicators, the ultimate drivers of any cloud migration initiative. 


Cost savings are an important consideration, but enterprises are beginning to grasp the potential of cloud to feed into more ambitious plans, whether they’re around sustainability or increasing the speed of development and ability to adapt to change for the long term.



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