Cleaning Out and Cleaning Up: cloud offers the chance to standardise

We have mentioned in recent posts, that a move to externalise services, whether outsourcing or cloud based, represents a major opportunity to clean up the assets on the IT balance sheet. This is a chance to rigorously go through the data centres and find all those servers running barely used legacy applications, unused environments that need to be archived, or purely redundant kit. Any IT manager who has overseen a large data centre move knows just how much “rubbish” can be cleaned up during a move… for non-IT specialist readers, just think about what was binned the last time you moved office or house.

Cleaning out and cleaning up does not just apply to hardware assets, but also to software, storage and processes. A well run project to move to cloud based services will also take the opportunity to improve and standardise operations throughout the IT stack. The starting point is a rigorous inventory – it is surprising how poor the inventories of assets are in organisations and how mixed up the balance sheet can be on what is owned by IT. The inventory must go beyond the physical assets, to the entire stack of software and versions, the larger the operation, the more likely that the software stack will be running multiple patch levels and versions in all the environments. Transferring or outsourcing a diverse estate is possible, but will be complex and likely costs more, so it is an excellent opportunity to converge on a reduced complexity level and move to some form of standard build or standard software operating stack. In fact this need to standardise is both an opportunity, but also a major contributor to the inertia in the market when it comes to cloud adoption or even traditional outsourcing.

Even when there are standardised hardware and software stacks many organisations will suffer from disparate and varied processes for managing the environments, whether monitoring, administration or other support processes. These will clearly change and adapt with any move to use cloud based services, the enforced governance and improved processes are a major benefit from any move. This standardisation of the entire IT value chain is why the cloud brings such major benefits to organisations. The providers have to standardise to remain cost-effective and keep the environments in line with the market, which, in turn, means their customers are both disciplined but also future-proofed. Initially this may feel like a burden and challenge, but once the organisation has adapted the rigour of one way of working, it can major benefits to the end user business customer.