Basically we’re seeing the era of cloud pilots and proof-of-concepts in the enterprise drawing to close, especially around IaaS and to a certain extent PaaS. CIOs are recognizing the need to incorporate cloud into the IT portfolio. They’ve either become believers themselves, or more likely are responding to the increasing amount of experimentation that business users are doing without their help.
Whatever the reason, enterprise IT now needs to figure out how to industrialize and scale cloud services across global operational footprints. There have been teams and independent groups adopting cloud, or driving to new DevOps continuous release models on their own initiative. Now the question becomes how do you leverage these models and make them accessible to the organization at enterprise scale? How do you achieve the benefits of agility and faster time to market across a global organization?
While this creates a whole set of challenges for CIOs, one of the biggest is how to how to align the organization around the opportunities, the challenges, and the answer to the question “why?” While cloud and DevOps may be easy to pursue at a team, departmental or group level, driving change for large enterprises will require significant commitment and resources. Transformational change never comes cheap.
So how do CIOs “herd the cats” that have been experimenting with next generation models? How do they bring along business or IT executives that still only have the vaguest idea of what cloud and DevOps can do for them? How do you align a diverse set of internal constituencies all around a common vision that is bound to drive disruption? There are three fundamental things that IT leaders need to do:
- Educate – first, CIOs need to educate business and IT stakeholders around the fundamentals of the cloud. This isn’t about explaining what Salesforce.com, Amazon AWS, or a private cloud does – at this point almost everyone will have at least a rudimentary understanding. Instead, organizations need to have a shared, common understanding and framework for discussing cloud and sources of business value. This is critical not just for unlocking opportunities, but also properly aligning expectations around what cloud will and will not do.
- Lead – second, CIOs need to have a vision for cloud and DevOps and what it will enable for their organization. Which services and platforms? Why? What is the strategic and business rationale? What do they mean to me as a business stakeholder? Painting a clear and compelling vision for cloud transformation is critical to driving adoption, and also to avoiding the dreaded scenario of a new private cloud that ends up only 30% utilized. After years of casting a skeptical eye towards cloud, IT leaders now lead to explain why they’re now on board, why it’s important, and why the business should believe them.
- Sell – finally, CIOs need to have an internal marketing and communications program for “selling” their vision. As any marketer will tell you, a successful rollout or launch is not a “fire and forget” mission. CIOs need to have a ongoing approach for communicating the value of cloud, DevOps and next generation IT transformation to their organization, and metrics for measuring impact and success.
Cloud and DevOps is more about business transformation than it is technology, which makes it different than client / server, the internet, and other waves of change that have hit enterprise IT. Communicating the impact of this change to business and IT stakeholders will likely be a key success factor for CIOs as they drive cloud and DevOps transformation.