Avoid Repeat Mistakes with Cloud Native Adoption

As enterprises start to embrace cloud-native solutions linked to real-time analytics, AI/ML, serverless and blockchain use cases, they need to avoid repeating the same mistakes that were made when migrating applications from on-premise to cloud.

It is probably fair to say that many enterprises have started or are well into their journey of cloud adoption. This journey can take many forms, but most are driven by the desire to compete in a constantly changing digital world that involves ‘migrating’ a legacy estate of applications and services from on-premise solutions to cloud-based services.

The challenges along the way have been significant. A number of organisations have struggled to recognise the benefits they expected from cloud adoption for a number of reasons. These include the following which have been highlighted by many organisations and research companies:

  • Lack of a connected business vision and cohesive executable strategy
  • Focus purely on cost savings and tangible financial returns with a rigid business case
  • Ignoring or underestimating the impact on people and process (operating model) as well as the technology
  • Desire to change too quickly by boiling the ocean (bulk DC to cloud migrations)

As a result, there is a minor trend indicating a shift back to on-premise for some organisations, as the perceived promise of cloud nirvana has not surfaced (1).

This is not the fault of the public cloud offerings, where adoption is still on the increase, but of the organisation’s inability to recognise and execute the change required across the whole business. Moving applications and services back to on-premise won’t solve the problem of being able to compete in a constantly changing digital world, in the same way moving them to cloud without addressing the operating model impact won’t.

Despite this minor trend, I would suggest that cloud adoption is in the maturity stage when analysing against the innovation adoption curve (2). That said, most of this adoption is still in the category of DC to cloud migrations, at least in the enterprise space. This phase is what I have defined as the First Wave of Cloud Adoption (Fig 1).

Fig. 1 First Wave Cloud Adoption Curve (DC Migrations, Containers, SaaS)

(7) Derived from Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovation

We are now entering the Second Wave of Cloud Adoption that isn’t focussed on DC migrations, even though migration projects are not reducing at this time. Enterprises are now starting to recognise the value proposition from leveraging ‘cloud-native’ technologies, such as serverless (FaaS), IOT, AI/ML and blockchain.

If you look at the innovation adoption curve for the Second Wave (Fig.2), it is interesting to note that enterprises are already in the early adopter/early majority phase in comparison to the First Wave (3). Also, the rate of change from innovators to majority adoption appears to be quicker than the First Wave, as enterprises are adopting Data, AI/ML as cloud-native solutions with fewer inhibitors to adoption (4). This Second Wave curve (Fig. 2) demonstrates cloud-native adoption.

Fig. 2 : Second Wave Cloud Adoption Curve (Serverless/FaaS, AI/ML, Data Insights)

(7) Derived from Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovation

This is an exciting development with enterprises believing the Second Wave will be easier than the first due to being cloud ‘native’. As a result, they can accelerate without the worry of any legacy “chains” holding them back.

It is true this opportunity is exciting, but CIO’s and CEO’s need to avoid making the same mistakes as they did with the First Wave. It is important not to underestimate the impact on the overall business, in particular, the people and process. If enterprises continue on this path without addressing the impact on the business and the overall operating model, then the result will be the same.

In fact, it can be argued it will be worse as much of the Second Wave is being driven by the business themselves (5) with more innovation opportunities coming from functions such as BI, Business Development, Supply Chains, Finance and not Technology (6).

The drive of adoption by the broader business is encouraging and shows the pervasive nature that the cloud brings and the business benefits that follow. That said, it highlights how critical developing and evolving an executable cloud strategy is to businesses. This strategy needs to include the cultural change and operating model impact on an organisations employees and current processes. Although important, it is not something that can change overnight and enterprises can’t try to ‘boil the ocean’ again in their eagerness to recognise the benefits of cloud-native adoption.

This is definitely a strategic change that takes time. However, the planning and definition of that strategy, the impact of the change on the organisation and making a start on the execution needs to happen now, if enterprises are going to avoid becoming the laggards in this Second Wave.


(1) 451 Research Customer Insight: Future-Proofing Your Colocation Business
(2) Gartner Market Insight: Finding Growth Opportunities in Cloud
(3) 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Digital Pulse, Budgets and Outlook 2017
(4) 451 Research, Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation 2017
(5) 451 Special Report: A Look at 2018 Workload Trends
(6) 451 Research : Workloads migrate to cloud – but public cloud is just one destination
(7) Derived from Rogers, Everett. Diffusion of Innovation 1962

  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital-transformation
  • cloud-native
  • Change Management