Becoming Cloud First with the Help of Einstein

illustration depicting cloud services
illustration depicting cloud services

You only have to reflect on the words of Einstein to see that applying old ways of thinking to your cloud first approach will only limit your success.

“You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that you used to create it” is a saying attributed to Albert Einstein, one of the great thinkers of the 20th century whose legacy was to change the way scientists think about the world. Without his openness to new ideas and his preparedness to express them and back them up with experiments, we would still be constrained by classical physics and unable to explore the universe effectively.

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein’s quote advocates the importance of thinking outside the box when trying to fix problems and come up with new ideas. And its ethos and spirit can be applied quite effectively today when organisations try to make a shift to a cloud first model. That being said, we do see some organisations inadvertently limiting their own success by trying to apply old processes and ways of thinking to new technologies such as the cloud.

Implementing Change at Pace

Sometimes this happens because the change has been adopted quickly, which, of course is, often necessary. The pandemic is a clear example of this. In the last 14 months, many organisations have had to accelerate their cloud transformation plans, adopting cloud software such as Microsoft 365 at pace to facilitate remote working. For some, this has caused growing tension between stakeholders, with IT and Security teams trying to control the feature set, business users pushing for the features they want and Microsoft Product Teams continuing to upgrade and improve the services at an astonishing pace – meaning the goalposts are always changing. Applying legacy thinking and legacy IT behaviours when adopting cloud solutions restricts adoption, experimentation and business agility, as well as limiting access to new features and functionality. IT functions that try to operate resources in the cloud with the same control mechanisms, delivery and change cadences as their legacy on-premise services will ultimately limit the efficiencies and cost savings that can be generated by a truly cloud first model.

A Multimodal IT Approach

Gartner introduced the idea of a multimodal IT approach a few years ago where Cloud Services and DevOps style delivery are recognised as requiring a different, more automated operating model with a faster delivery cadence. While this is widely recognised by experts as the optimum approach, we are still seeing organisations who are developing code using DevOps tactics but then hit a wall when they try to deploy the code as they have to conform to the traditional delivery models.

While the multimodal IT approach is helpful from an IT delivery perspective, more change is required for organisations to maximise agility, innovation and ultimately their overall business performance. IT must be a critical part, not only of service delivery, but of service design too and both business and IT leadership must collaborate to create useful services for both customers and employees.

The Importance of Product Owners
This is where Product Owners become invaluable. Having Product Owners in place, who are accountable to business leadership and focused on creating and adapting services that deliver on business objectives, help to ensure that both IT and business objectives are aligned. Product Owners take responsibility for ensuring that services are secure, resilient and, ultimately, do what the business needs at optimal cost.

A Change in Mindset

We have traditionally believed that IT Systems must be protected from change and, when change is necessary, a heavy duty change management process operated under IT control is how it must be facilitated. However, in this new world, we need to consider how we move away from this mindset, understanding that services must adapt and change at pace, to maintain competitive advantage and remain relevant to customers. Ultimately, the role of IT is to make that happen in a secure, resilient and cost appropriate way using commodity IT. Make that change and cloud suddenly makes sense as a way of making your business more agile, flexible and ultimately successful.

Despite cloud computing being well after Einstein’s time (he died in 1955 at the age of 76), his way of thinking helps us to remember the importance of taking a step back and getting a new perspective. By challenging traditional ways of working and trying something new, organisations can digitise faster and realise all the benefits a cloud first approach can bring.

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