Building a Bridge Across Clouds

If there is one beacon pointing to the future of enterprise technology, it is the cloud. And while many companies have already at least begun their cloud journey, there are still many questions around how best to navigate the journey safely, efficiently, and successfully. According to VMware and Dell Technologies CIO Bask Iyer, a short list of the most important of these considerations includes having the right people, the right vendor partners, and the right culture to ensure a safe, efficient, and successful adoption and integration of cloud solutions.

Start With the Right People

For Iyer, planning a successful transition to the cloud begins with having the right people. This may initially seem counter-intuitive because the cloud, by its very definition, is all about automation. Many legacy data center operations involve a number of manual processes; the automation of these processes is what differentiates modern data center and cloud management and operation.

As a consequence, having the right people in place is critical to the cloud integration planning process. A smooth and efficient workload migration is dependent upon IT staff who are open to the transformation in their own roles and responsibilities that a cloud-based model naturally entails. Ideally, says Iyer, they should be people who “are ready to learn and try new things—and to try them differently. Cloud offers a growth and learning opportunity for all, including CIOs like me.”

Take the Time for Romance

The next critical consideration on the path to the cloud is choosing the right vendor partner. The best advice is for a company to take all the time it needs to evaluate its potential partner and ensure that it is not hurried into a bad romance. The reason for this, Iyer explains, is that it is relatively easy to make the commitment to moving a company’s infrastructure onto a cloud. As he says, “All you need is a credit card.” The far more difficult challenge is to get out of that commitment if the move does not work out as planned.

Organizations crafting a careful cloud strategy are taking the time to ensure their vendor choices are cloud agnostic. In other words, Iyer says, “they are remaining vendor neutral.” As cloud platforms and technologies evolve, it is critical that organizations allow themselves the freedom to innovate and move across multiple clouds. Organizations need to ensure that they are not prevented from taking advantage of these opportunities because they are locked into a rigid, proprietary cloud architecture and software. Unlike the lyrics in the song “Hotel California,” customers want to be able to check out anytime they want—and be able to leave freely.

Build a Culture for the Cloud

A third critical consideration in cloud adoption is the recognition that moving to the cloud requires a culture change throughout the organization. Organizations that are successfully navigating their cloud journey are simultaneously creating a culture that favors cloud solutions. “They have learned to ask, ‘Why not the cloud?’” Iyer says.

Good leadership is the key to establishing a cloud-friendly culture. “The CIO needs to be in the lead,” Iyer states, “to explain the business benefits and flexibility the cloud offers.” But just as important, he continues, is the need to understand how cloud works technically and then, if needed, be willing to take some risks.

A common characteristic of many of the companies that have successfully adopted cloud solutions is that they started with a budget they considered inadequate for the task. “But,” Iyer emphasizes, “they have a mindset to figure out how to make it happen with the budget they have.”

Leading by Example

When it comes to talking about the cloud journey, VMware can present itself as a model use case. The company runs one of the largest private enterprise clouds in the world. “Every aspect of VMware,” Iyer says, “including all our R&D, runs on our private cloud.” Iyer observes that VMware is a typical enterprise company and that “most of our customers are CIOs like myself. They want to know how we run VMware.” The result, Iyer says, is that “we are a big use case for drinking our own champagne.”

“Customers don’t want to know theory,” Iyer says. “They want me to tell them how we at VMware run SAP. How we run Office 365. How we run Workday. How we go to SaaS.” VMware can use all of these use cases to show customers how its cloud solutions enable the company to gain security and agility, optimize costs, and accelerate business innovation.

For organizations preparing for their journey across clouds, the roadmap is clear: the right people, the right partners, the right culture, and the right bridge—VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture™. Follow these signposts, Iyer concludes, and the journey to—and across—clouds will be secure, efficient, and cost-effective. Bon voyage!