“Day Zero” In The Cloud: Is Your Business Ready?
By Tim Stone
“So…how do we get started in the cloud and how will that impact our team going forward?”
It’s a question I get a lot on “Day Zero” as I’ve spoken with a lot of infrastructure teams and it’s clear from the tone I hear that there’s a healthy amount of fear associated with moving to the cloud. Since a migration is not 100% “real” yet to those asking, they’re working off of ideas and assumptions they may have – not all of which may be accurate.
To confront this fear, I like to ease into training a team by challenging them with some homework: Present them with a real business scenario in the environment that needs to be moved into the cloud (if we want to move SQL to the cloud, for example, how do we do that? How do we replicate the data?).
Then we come back and review each other’s design ideas in an interactive “Lunch N’ Learn” session. As a team engages in this review session, they’re learning about what’s effective and what has certain shortcomings. And in the process, we’re teaching team members how to wear a business hat to consider outcomes, not just a technical point of view.
Now Let’s Get The Rest Of The Business Fully Engaged
To better involve the rest of the company during a move to the cloud, we can create a framework for the business to utilize, including a method to track costs. For example, if you should happen to list 25 items that you expect to be in your bill from a cloud provider but you suddenly have 30 items in that bill, it might be time to go talk to Marketing as something new may have been deployed.
In a cloud environment, security is very much going to evolve over time, with different role-based permissions required. So set up security groups and create top-level IT permissions, then Marketing permissions and so on. This way, when these particular departments approach you, you’ll already have unique resource groups dedicated to them, including having their own people within that area set up with permissions.
As you create documentation around resource groups, budgeting, tracking cloud costs and more, it’s essential that you communicate with all the business units and keep them abreast of the developments in the cloud you have ready.
One more thing: Don’t forget to bring the CFO / Controller into these conversations too, because they’re not used to fluctuating line items – unless you’ve talked to them well ahead of time about how the cloud is going to bring about a new type of operational model. Getting this key individual’s approval early on is going to be very helpful for removing potential roadblocks to cloud migration.
How Will Jobs Change After A Cloud Migration?
Even though there are a few jobs that may start going away (think those related to data centers, for example), they also belong to people who have the most opportunity to start learning and applying new skills.
Other jobs will evolve by adding responsibilities onto the ones those individuals are already entrusted with. Here’s how a day in the life for 3 key roles might change when a company decides to migrate to the cloud.
Right now, you can find a Backup Engineer frequently coming into the company in the morning, going through data logs from the night before and making sure that all the jobs from last night successfully ran as planned. They might be recovering files from someone who accidentally deleted them. Or loading users on a new set of servers that were recently deployed.
As companies move to the cloud, the Backup Engineer is still performing those “housekeeping” functions to a degree, such as reviewing all the backup jobs to make sure they ran last night. But they also need to start thinking about their backup suite and understanding how data is trending.
Why? Everything in the cloud is going to have a cost that requires management. Even if you don’t have a specific budget, as the Backup Engineer, you should make your own. What are you including (and not including) in your costs of backup jobs? Keep that budget running for the entire year. This way, when you get to the official “Budget Season” at your company, you can approach a manager or director and say, “Next year, you’re planning on having 100 servers or 100 applications. Here’s what I believe the cost of that is going to be.”
The task of continually aiming to improve the method of backing up isn’t going away. Yet, with the move to the cloud, the Backup Engineer will have added costs to keep track of.
When a company moves to the cloud, this role really becomes the “Network & Security Engineer.”
These are the experts who, every day, are making sure that nobody without the authority is accessing the network. That includes looking at daily SIEM logs and evaluating utilization statistics as well as tracking how much data is being transmitted up through the express route or VPN.
In addition, they’re investigating anything that is transmitted to the cloud that might be unexpected and the cost implications of that. All the while, these individuals, much like the Backup Engineers, are still lending support on a housekeeping level to the Help Desk, responding to trouble tickets, performing vulnerability scans and troubleshooting traffic flow from an onprem exchange server up to Office 365.
Help Desk Technician
In a perfect world, the Help Desk Tech isn’t experiencing a significant change in responsibilities with a company’s move to the cloud rather than looking at a different and new set of “blinking lights” to respond to. They’re monitoring connectivity issues that are critical to keeping the business running but in addition, they may now also monitor new areas such as the status of applications and services in the cloud.
In order for this transition to happen smoothly, all of the support documentation of the organization needs to be updated so that the Help Desk Tech has the proper escalation and support documentation for all of those new apps. If this step is well executed, your end users and customers shouldn’t notice that your company has shifted to the cloud at all. To them, it’s business as usual.
For so many businesses, migration to the cloud isn’t a matter of if, but when. Companies would do well to embrace this fact now because it’s happening and the cloud isn’t going away. But even as you do engage in a migration, don’t try to “boil the ocean” by tackling a multitude of tasks at once.
Decide how your team will best work with or in the cloud, determine cost control measures and reach out to partners like ourselves at Silent IT on how to bring implementation of your cloud migration to life.
It’s rare to understand the intricate details of IT while possessing a keen business perspective too. But Tim Stone clearly has that combination, with career accomplishments for clients over the course of 20 years that include increasing annual sales by 25%, supporting 66 operational stores and delivering $3.5 million across 7 lines of technology.
Through the complex projects he takes on at Silent IT for healthcare organizations and in post-merger integration, Tim transforms internal IT departments beyond the traditional cost centers they so often tend to be.