Modern IT Management in a Cloud-First World

By Brad Ellison| February 26, 2021

The cloud has become a foundation that enables digital transformation, market differentiation and competitive advantage for all types and sizes of businesses. As businesses continue to leverage the cloud, it is imperative for IT departments to follow suit and determine how to deliver “Modern IT management.” To be successful, IT needs to obtain and allocate the proper staffing and skillsets to execute and manage cloud-first strategies.

How Has IT Management Changed in the Cloud?

To thrive as an agile and innovative organization and adapt to the ever-changing landscape that the cloud represents, businesses need to evaluate their existing IT teams and pivot to a structure that creates more business value and reduces management burdens and costs. Despite their desire to leverage the speed, scalability, and economic value of the cloud, many mid-sized organizations have been slow to change their IT management strategies to reflect the business realities of today.

A Modern IT management strategy enables the IT function to address the ever-present risk and opportunities that come with adopting cloud strategies.

  • Architecture and Advisory – IT needs to guide the organization on emerging cloud technologies, industry trends and best practices that align to defined business needs. Because the need for rapid innovation has become a new mandate for companies of all sizes, IT needs to continuously evaluate new capabilities and technologies and quantify where they may fit into the mid- and long-term goals and objectives of the organization. Immense business value can be created when this process is well understood and orchestrated.
  • Governance – As described by Microsoft, with any cloud platform, there are governance disciplines that help guide the proper level of automation and corporate policy across cloud platforms. They need to be well-understand and mapped to the specific organization’s needs, especially in a model where your operational costs vary depending on how much you are consuming in the cloud.

Here are critical governance guidelines to consider as part of your modern IT management strategy:

  1. Cost Management – Cost is a primary concern for cloud users. Develop policies for cost control across all cloud platforms, including development of policies for business unit charge backs.
  2. Security Baselines – Security is a complex subject and unique to each company. Once security requirements, cloud governance policies and enforcement are established, apply those requirements across network, data, and asset configurations.
  3. Identity Baseline - Inconsistencies in the application of identity requirements can increase the risk of breach. The Identity Baseline discipline focuses on ensuring that identity is consistently applied across all cloud environments.
  4. Resource Consistency – Cloud operations depend on consistent resource configuration. Through governance tooling, resources can be configured consistently to manage risks related to onboarding, drift, discoverability and recovery.
  5. Deployment Acceleration - Centralization, standardization and consistency in the deployment and configuration process  can improve governance. When provided through cloud-based governance tooling, they create a cloud factor that can accelerate deployment activities.  
  • Optimize Spend - As organizational needs change, so do cloud requirements and the opportunities to optimize cloud spend. Evaluating past performance and consumption to predict future need is the first step to understanding, managing and optimizing cloud investments. IT organizations need to be educated and prepared to tackle right sizing the existing cloud footprint, pre-committing purchases on cloud resources to maximize savings and identifying and removing waste and unused cloud resources.   
  • Security and Health - While the continued evolution of cloud technology presents new opportunities for growth, it also create a new set of cyber risks that business executives and IT leaders must learn to overcome. It is important for IT to perform a regular security gap analysis across its cloud footprint against industry standard frameworks such as NIST, CIS, PCI, etc. and to then make recommendations to the organization to address existing risks. Once the security program and strategy have been defined, they can be incorporated into the governance model described above.

Investing more money into a largely reactive IT support system is no longer cost-effective or sustainable and can cause business leaders to start looking outside the organization for a better solution. A Managed Services Provider can bring the necessary skills and experience to deliver every bit of value the cloud has to offer from strategy, to migration, to ongoing support and management.