IT departments are excited about the benefits of a multi-cloud strategy, but this strategy also presents a number of obstacles. In particular, updating legacy systems, the growing skills gap for employees, and managing the numerous apps and cloud software continue to be menacing opponents.
Let’s face these IT foes by identifying some Easter eggs that will unlock the best strategy.
#1. Upgrading Legacy Systems
To increase efficiency, decrease cost, and bolster security, IT departments are replacing their company’s legacy systems. Here’s an illustrative example: somewhere in your company building, there’s a closet packed to the brim with heavy, outdated legacy telephony hardware. It’s burdensome—especially as it ages—costing you thousands of dollars in hardware upgrades, and bringing in specialized technicians to manage the system. Not to mention the hundreds of hours the IT department sacrifices to keep the system updated and effective.
Enterprise are saving time and money by clearing out that closet and upgrading their legacy systems to a cloud-based solution. In a cloud solution, you hand off all that responsibility to the vendor, usually to dependable and professional Hosted VoIP company. Like in the example with business phone systems—with a cloud solution, you’d no longer need to buy hardware or keep it on your premises. Your IT department also rids itself of the headache, risk, and effort involved in keeping that legacy business PBX system alive.
(To see an in-depth breakdown of the benefits upgrading your legacy systems, check out the TCO comparison of Hosted VoIP and a legacy PBX system).
Replace those legacy systems with cloud-based solutions is simple.
- Identify legacy systems slowing you down and draining your pockets. (Use this excellent systematic model to identify legacy systems in Antoine Buteau’s article.)
- Find a smart, professional, and innovative solution.
- Pitch the idea to your boss/company purse holder.
- Make the switch.
Note: As your company transitions from its legacy systems, you’ll often adopt more than one cloud-based solution. In fact, 85% of enterprises utilized a multi-cloud strategy in 2017.
#2. Filling in the Skills Gap
Companies matriculating to cloud-based solutions ultimately contribute to the widening skills gap in the industry. Because the Cloud is a fairly new technology, many IT employees aren’t ready to make this leap with mid markets and enterprises. Not to mention that once inundated in the quagmire of day-to-day work tasks, employees struggle to find time to learn about the new and exciting ideas in their field.
For a lot of mid-market IT departments, the solution is hiring new employees. This is a reasonable strategy, but it costs thousands of dollars to find and hire a new employee. You must be wary of growing too dependent on this expensive strategy, so in tandem to your hiring strategy, you need to institute a culture of agility and learning.
For example, when you hire, make clear your expectations for employees to research, learn, and adapt to the quickly changing IT field. Here are a couple of ideas to invest in your current employees and keep this widening skills gap at bay for your IT employees.
- Conferences: Set aside money in your budget to send your employees to an IT conference every year.
- Schedule Research Time: Set aside a specific time for employees to research and learn about recent developments and skills in IT. (It’s up to you how much time you set aside and how you hold employees accountable for doing research. You can designate a loose research quota for each week, provide weekly research topics, hold meetings to discuss findings, or compile your findings on a google.doc. It’s up to you.)
- Classes: Set aside money in your IT budget to enroll employees in online or local university classes. They don’t have to enroll in an expensive university course. Some of the best learning resources for IT employees are on YouTube.
#3. Consolidating Tools
As your company transitions from legacy systems to the Cloud, you’ll encounter the difficulty of managing all of these new cloud-based solutions. “With the growing enterprise of startups, and growing pains that comes with that, centralizing apps that departments have purchased for their needs can become troublesome,” says Dee Jarvis, IT Manager at Jive Communications.
Gmail. Creative Cloud. SalesForce. The list of software and logins goes on and on. Multiply that by 500 Jive employees, and swinging the lasso needed to bring down that massive bull of cloud applications is quite daunting.
Jive’s IT department currently is tackling this common IT obstacle, so I talked to Dee Jarvis about his strategy for consolidating cloud apps for your company employees.
- Meet with each department head to determine what apps they use and need
- Select an IDaaS provider
Jive currently utilizes Google to manage our cloud-based identities. Using the SAML standard, Jarvis and his team can connect to many different cloud apps and manage user logins in one central location.
Navigating a Multi-Cloud Environment
As mid-market companies adopt this multi-cloud or hybrid strategy, your IT departments will at some point face the three obstacles addressed in this article. First, you’ll need to make the transition to the Cloud by identifying your company legacy systems and replacing them.
As you commit your IT department to this multi-cloud environment you should prepare your team for this transition. You need to ensure that you have the employees with the necessary skills, and that you establish a culture of learning and agility to embark on this new frontier.
Finally, you’ll encounter the last obstacle: living in this multi-cloud environment you’ve built. Consolidating tools is just one aspect of living in a multi-cloud environment, but it’s a good place to start. Because ultimately, this multi-cloud environment should save your department money and time, and simply employees lives by consolidating apps and tools into one interface.