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“That’s the Cloud sorted then – let’s talk about Blockchain…” Part 1 – Industrialisation


December 19, 2018


Thinking digitally – making it happen

The digital tech industry is often a victim of fashion. Cloud however, has evolved beyond the fashion wave and moving into mainstream. It’s more than two years since Cloud dropped off Gartner’s annual list of top ten strategic technology trends, and over ten since Amazon came up with AWS as an innovative way to monetise its spare IT capacity.

Ancient history, right?

Mmm…sort of. The concept and basic implementation are now old news, but the full industry capability is still emerging. If I was a systems engineer, I’d probably say that the Technical Readiness Level way outstrips the System Readiness Level. This is because it takes a while for the whole life-cycle management and support ecosystem to gather around the tech. If I was a capability manager in the military, I’d say that the equipment and infrastructure may have been sorted, but not the rest of the capability; organisation, supply chain and logistics, regulation, personnel and interoperability.

More critically, while a single Cloud installation might be able to achieve high readiness levels, the last few years have shown than no Cloud is an island. Cloud ecosystems are a more realistic expectation and there’s no (and never will be) any way to articulate ‘readiness’ of such a diverse and volatile environment. This means user organisations themselves must take responsibility for Cloud (and non-Cloud) architecture, integration and service delivery – and get themselves into a state of ‘readiness’.

Cloud ready?

This is the first in a blog series that explores why Cloud capabilities remain a relatively small part of the digital estate compared with legacy. Interestingly, when researching the question “What is the Cloud: Non-Cloud ratio of the overall digital estate?” there was almost nothing to go on. It’s also interesting that no-one seems to be asking this question – or tracking the answer.

Most research seems to focus on “If you are planning on using at least some Cloud, then…” – i.e. relative growth/adoption from a baseline limited to new systems acquisition, and covering topics such as maturity, public/private, single/multi, £/$ growth of the Cloud market.

I did however come across some projections; in 2017, IDC predicted that by 2020, more than 50% of spending on IT infrastructure will remain on traditional data centres. (Note: this only covers Infrastructure as a Service – probably the most mature Cloud capability.) IDC also predicts that by the same date, only around 50% of Software as a Service (SaaS) capabilities will be sitting on Cloud platforms and infrastructure.

So, back to basics then

Looking at a few ‘as-is’ Enterprise Application Architectures I’ve worked on over the last three years, about 10% of the total estate could reasonably be called ‘Cloud-based’ or ‘Cloud-enabled’.

Pretty unscientific I know, but even if we doubled that…or tripled it…

Even the highest estimates for new digital capability deployment suggest that less than a quarter of new deployments are Cloud architectures – and that is just the new stuff. This figure seems low given the number of   declared ‘Cloud First’ and ‘Cloud Native’ public declarations and strategies.

But why?

Cloud covered

This series is for anyone grappling with the practical challenges of turning opportunity into reality. Rather than offering traditional bleeding edge thought leadership, it is aimed at those responsible for driving scale and adoption by dealing with ‘whole system’ issues (i.e. people, process, culture, behaviour, capability AND technology). In short, industrialisation – reality rather than potential.

My next blog identifies the key enablers of Cloud industrialisation from the core economics to the challenges of portability, migration and service management.

Hope to see you there!

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