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The Power of the Platform

Industry News from Cloud IT

The Power of the Platform

May 11, 2016
By Accenture Cloud Insights
Accenture Cloud Insights

Companies migrating from legacy IT to cloud can use a lift.

The great data center migration of 2016 is on as companies move their IT systems to the cloud. However, the road is proving to be anything but smooth, with various issues hamstringing migration efforts. Struggles with multiple cloud vendors, complex combinations of new and legacy technology, limited visibility on consumption, security challenges, noncompliance and cost management difficulties are among top migration complications.

Enterprises are struggling as they embrace the bold new world of cloud, still encumbered with the day-to-day details of their traditional legacy operation. The crux of the problem is that they have operating models designed for the old world. But these outdated models don’t support the new as-a-service world. What’s becoming clear is that to achieve the plug-in, scalable, consumption-based services to meet specific business outcomes that as-a-service promises is not merely a matter of flicking a switch or lifting and shifting workloads.

Many companies are discovering that cloud migration requires a refreshed look across the business, particularly at IT tools. And more are finding they require some form of cloud management platform (CMP). CMP represents a set of capabilities and services comprising cloud provisioning, automation, orchestration, billing, analytics, governance and policy to manage risk and costs as a single entity. An intelligent, highly-evolved CMP can help reduce the complexity of the technology landscape and facilitate as-a-service operations for digital businesses—a control plane for the move to cloud.

Beyond convenience, agility and speed, a mature CMP offers numerous advantages for getting to cloud:

Freedom with control. A CMP integrates public and private clouds, legacy applications and infrastructure, providing services such as configuration, backup, patching and antivirus, helping bridge the agile and traditional IT worlds to choose the most appropriate solution. 

Often, when deploying some apps to cloud, there is a tension between operations and oversight. For example, while a DevOps team can move to a continuous integration and deployment model, IT Ops may want to initiate an approval process to ensure proper spend and configuration oversight, which can slow the process significantly. While traditional IT processes work in weeks and months, cloud operations are measured in seconds and minutes. A seasoned CMP helps integrate operations between these two worlds by imposing automated limits or quotas, controls and two-way integration with processes such as configuration management database and service management.

Improved speed with service blueprints. Standardized, pre-integrated services developed from proven practices and methodologies ensure quality delivery. Cloud application blueprints improve IT productivity and speed of delivery while mitigating risk with support for multiple cloud provider templates. Companies can quickly request, configure and provision simple virtual machine blueprints or full enterprise business application stacks.

Capacity and cost management. The shift from upfront purchasing to monthly consumption represents a huge cultural change in most organizations. Controls and intelligent analytics help companies plan for, control and manage costs in the month they occur, giving them greater governance over spend. These services help prevent dramatic cost overruns typically caused by misunderstanding the spending or usage model, or not realizing the scope of cloud operations. It also allows for streamlined chargeback to cost centers and the ability to sort multiple vendor bills tied to universal tags.

For example, many companies run their IT resources 24/7 when they only need a fraction of that, creating tremendous waste. When moving to cloud, overprovisioning (due to perceived low costs) is acceptable at first because it enables agility, but it needs to be paired with the right analytics to arrive at a standard baseline. An intelligent CMP can help establish limits, budgets, automated reclamation of resources, alerts and other mechanisms to keep consumption transparent and manageable.

Expert guidance. A CMP can help companies navigate the evolution and mix of a growing number of providers, offering intelligent analytics and data for performance optimization of all resources. When coupled with expert advisory services, it can deliver superior business value.

The cloud is getting bigger with hundreds of services available from the big three—Google, Amazon and Microsoft (News - Alert)—each with a variety of performance, costs and security features. For example, one service provider structures its costs so that archiving is inexpensive but retrieval is not, which can cause bill shock. In other cases, providers charge for unused cloud resources, such as IP addresses, requiring regular culling to prevent waste. A CMP can deploy and maintain the proper settings and regularly audit and remediate them to keep cloud secure and cost-effective.

Keeping track of these elements, providing expert advice and executing the right operational tasks are key to realizing the value of cloud. Otherwise, it becomes another static cost to the business.

Governance. Companies can use a CMP to comply with newly defined policies and procedures, manage resource allocation across countries and support required reporting, so they can focus on more critical business needs. It’s critical for any organization moving to cloud to provide permission sets and operational integrity, which enables access to appropriate services required for individual projects.

Cloud policies range from security, export compliance and data privacy to operational controls, requiring resources to be tagged with rich metadata to aid reporting and auditing. Native cloud consoles provide basic information, but many lack tagging—or the tags are incorrect, resulting in errors and delays. A CMP provides a variety of tools to build rich metadata to enable proper reporting and auditing, driving a variety of best practices through automated policy execution.

Security and service operations. A CMP can help ensure operational integrity, high service levels and consistency across firewall rules, software version control, maintenance fixes, and virus and malware protection.

Just as with traditional IT services, cloud requires monitoring, patching, securing, backing up, and remediating drifting configurations. A CMP can provide both managed and automated services to ensure that the right resources get the right services, enabling availability, security and cost savings.  

Cloud offers unprecedented opportunities for enterprises to make a real transformation, to catch up to the more nimble players that are building digital partnerships, designing deliverables based on market outcomes and generally disrupting their markets. And a well-designed, trusted and tested CMP is an optimal way to get to cloud faster, with far fewer difficulties that ultimately doesn’t just enable the new, but also accommodates investments in the old. A good managed CMP provider helps enterprises place both feet firmly in the new, as-a-service world.

By Michael Liebow, Global Managing Director, Accenture (News - Alert) Cloud Platform and Rodrigo Flores, Managing Director, Accenture Cloud Platform

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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