Over the past decade, cloud computing has become the new normal for organizations in almost every industry. The proliferation of cloud-based services, one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend, continues to reshape how enterprises operate, invest in and manage their computing resources.
Achieving a successful cloud transformation journey is complex requires months of careful planning, preparation and change management. During the early stages of cloud adoption, many business leaders and IT decision-makers tend to focus on cloud services, tools and features that can help modernize their core business systems and eliminate inefficient processes. While these considerations are essential to cloud migration, it’s also important to understand how your existing service management strategies must change to suit the new environment.
Taking full advantage of cloud-based resources and digital transformation is about more than integrating the latest technologies; it’s about building an enhanced service management framework that can deliver consistent, reliable results in the long term. As organizations integrate more cloud services and third-party providers into their operations, CIOs and other executives need to develop formal strategies to situate cloud investments in the context of business decisions and operational goals. They will also need to make sure their service management processes are cloud-ready before making the transition to a hybrid or full-cloud environment.
Here are six steps every organization must take to ensure their service management is cloud-ready:
Step 1: Assess your ITSM environment
Before new cloud-based services and platforms can be successfully integrated into a legacy environment, IT leaders must determine the “as-is” status of their existing IT service management (ITSM) policies and practices. This step is crucial for locating inefficiencies, identifying areas where more visibility is needed and anticipating compliance issues that may stem from cloud migration.
Keep in mind, ITSM processes are essential to the end-to-end delivery of IT services to both employees and customers. Every new cloud service added to an organization’s workflow will need to be actively managed by a team of in-house cloud experts, third-party service providers or some combination of the two. Without a deep understanding of their current ITSM policies, companies can quickly lose control over workloads in the cloud, leading to subpar service, unplanned downtime and missed business opportunities.
Step 2: Map out service architecture and business processes
After assessing their current ITSM environments, organizations will have a stronger understanding of the interrelationships and dependencies of their legacy systems. These hidden connections often go unnoticed until a problem arises, preventing IT leaders from maintaining a proactive posture during cloud migration. For example, haphazardly moving data to cloud-based storage can prevent users and applications from accessing business-critical information, which often demonstrates a lack (or need for) effective organizational change management (OCM). It also speaks to the importance of data classifications, dependency mapping and ownership of the configuration management database (CMDB).
To stay one step ahead of integration roadblocks, key decision-makers will need to take a full inventory of data and applications that are vital to daily operations. Failing to think through these complexities may force organizations to move workloads back to the cloud later down the line. In fact, research from security provider Fortinet and IHS Markit found that 52% of companies that moved workloads from the cloud to on-premises systems did so because of performance or security issues.
Step 3: Select cloud services that solve specific business needs
The cloud services market is constantly expanding as large tech firms and small startups release new technologies and platforms tailored to modern enterprises. According to Gartner, around 28% of spending within key enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022, but not all cloud providers are created equally. The highly competitive nature of the cloud services marketplace has created new challenges for organizations looking to use cloud-based IT to solve specific business problems. As a result, companies can unintentionally invest in services and features they won’t actively use, or underinvest in core technologies that serve as a foundation to their broader cloud transformation initiatives.
Striking the right balance between different cloud vendors is crucial to the success of any cloud migration, especially when it comes to budgeting. Instead of prioritizing specific cloud solutions, business leaders must select cloud service partners that can help solve specific challenges and future-proof their core IT systems. Of course, this can be challenging when using multiple cloud service providers, as it often drives additional requirements for cloud broker capabilities and may complicate cost optimization processes.
Step 4: Prioritize seamless cloud integration
Moving to the cloud offers a variety of benefits for today’s enterprises, from lower operating costs to greater visibility over business-critical workflows. However, the key to successful cloud adoption is the integration between different tools, applications, business processes and data stores, not the IT services themselves. This is particularly important for organizations that rely on several different cloud vendors. Anticipating cloud broker requirements and putting well-defined service integration and management (SIAM) strategies in place is key, whether companies operate hybrid or multi-cloud environments.
Although many cloud vendors promise seamless integration and out-of-the-box services, it’s important to consider how new technologies could cause workstream bottlenecks that impact productivity and service delivery. CIOs and other decision-makers should strive for transparency during every stage of the integration process to ensure new cloud services fit into their computing environments and ITSM processes. This will require a comprehensive integration roadmap for ITSM strategies and the management tools that support them, including the alignment of the cloud management platform (CMP) with specific ITSM technologies.
Step 5: Incorporate AI and ML anomaly detection
Automation has become a dominant trend in the cloud services market as more organizations seek to eliminate (or streamline) manual processes. Advanced anomaly detection and AIOps allows organizations to respond to emergencies before they happen, reducing disruption and unplanned downtime. These predictive capabilities taken in conjunction with the service value focus of ITIL 4 provide a more holistic picture of IT-enabled service delivery and more oversight of key management workflows.
As organizations embark on their cloud transformation journey, IT leaders will need to consider how artificial intelligence, machine learning and anomaly detection can enhance their management capabilities. With advanced anomaly detection, organizations can anticipate outages hours before they impact employee- and customer-facing applications, allowing IT staff to make necessary changes to ward off performance and security problems.
Step 6: Develop a more automated service management lifecycle
Even after an organization has integrated cloud-based services, they still need to actively manage their resources and workloads to remain adaptable in the face of shifting market trends and ITSM needs. Business services and applications aren’t static — they require constant monitoring and retooling to deliver the uninterrupted service employees and customers expect. Rather than leaving management activities to a third-party vendor, organizations should create a framework that can help them identify, define, manage and automate their IT services on their own.
Developing a personalized digital management lifecycle can give enterprises a competitive advantage and help locate hidden inefficiencies that impact the user experience. If technology is the lifeblood of modern organizations, service management is the connective tissue that holds everything together.
With Unisys’ Digital Service Management solutions, you can streamline your cloud migration journey and remain adaptable in the years ahead.