Best Fit Technologies Blog

Peeling the Onion

posted by Marc Kagan   [ updated ]

As I eluded to in my earlier post “Teaching an old dog new tricks,” developing a cloud strategy for an existing enterprise is a bit like peeling an onion.  There are many layers to work through, each getting progressively more complex (sophisticated) as you work toward the center.

Crawford is a well-oiled machine after 76 years in business.  They are a truly global enterprise with operations on nearly every continent (no Antarctica yet).  For an organization like this, starting the journey can be a daunting task.  Where to begin?  I am not sure there is a “right” answer.  Let me share a high level view of how I am approaching it - for the sake of clarity, much of this is running in parallel:

  • Gather Data (see Teaching an old dog new tricks)
  • Analysis / Assessment
    • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
      • Inventory
      • Economics
      • Non-economic value factors
  • Business Case
  • Tactics
    • Identify POC’s
    • Experiment
  • People plan
    • Cloud evangelism
    • Skills assessment
    • Education
      • Leadership
      • Engineers
  • Strategy
    • Guiding principles
    • Top down vs bottom up
    • Partner strategy
  • Implement
  • Review, adjust, repeat

To mix metaphors for a moment – while its helpful to have a global vision, you don’t need to boil the oceans and solve for every eventuality all at once.  The reason I mentioned peeling an onion is that I believe this process will be iterative and many steps will continue to repeat as our journey progresses from one layer to the next.  A cloud strategy should be a living plan that evolves with the business needs, and incorporates new technology and capabilities where appropriate.  Don’t expect a great epiphany where it all becomes clear.  The most important step on your journey is the first one.  Start where you can and go from there.

In the coming weeks I hope to visit each of the bulleted items outlined above in more detail.  Please stay tuned and as always – please provide feedback or ask questions.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

posted Jun 15, 2017, 3:42 PM by Marc Kagan   [ updated Jun 19, 2017, 12:42 PM ]

I recently signed on to work for Crawford & Company developing their (public) cloud strategy.  As coincidence would have it, on my first day the team celebrated the company’s 76th birthday complete with birthday cake (bonus).  AWS (Amazon Web Services) likes to talk about the “stages of adoption” and the “cloud journey.”  Whichever you prefer, Crawford is an old (mature, not tired) dog looking to learn new tricks.

Day 1 – where to begin…  I started the journey by doing a brain dump of what data I want to gather: what does the infrastructure, network, governance, and security foot print look like, where is everything physically, how does it fit together logically, what does it cost, are there any burning issues?  I know this journey is going to be like peeling an onion, the best place to start is the outer layer and work my way in.  For me the process starts with gathering data because I know unraveling their complete infrastructure inventory is likely to take time and, it provides a great entry point to meet key people throughout the organization.  Besides, its hard to do analysis without data…

One (of many) things that jumped out at me during the first week – Listen Carefully.  Be sensitive to any gap between what people say and what they do.  The people I am working with are all top-notch professionals.  That being said, mature corporate environments have well trained antibodies built up to preserve the status quo.  Everyone is supportive and excited to embrace a future that includes cloud technologies but the realities of keeping the lights on often necessitates the purchase of new hardware, software, etc.  Every new capital expenditure further complicates the cloud TCO comparison.  Topic for a future blog article – how do we break the CAPEX cycle…

I have a number of topics I would like to document as this journey progresses.  Please check back to see how its going and hopefully learn something along the way.  If you have any (non-proprietary) questions, please let me know.

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