You know optimizing your cloud infrastructure is an ongoing project—but how to plan and implement changes effectively may be less clear.
Effective change management smooths the transition to the cloud and gives organizations better insight throughout the process. Given the monumental changes associated with moving to the cloud, you need a change management strategy to manage risk and minimize wasted effort or cost.
What is cloud change management?
Changing infrastructure and moving to the cloud is disruptive and introduces other changes within organizations. Cloud change management is the methodology and processes used by organizations to plan and manage these changes. Through change management, you can protect your company from some of the typical pitfalls and challenges associated with moving to the cloud.
With the right best practices, companies can understand and anticipate:
Cloud adoption and frequent changes impact different areas of your organization differently and to different degrees. For instance, some departments may only use your cloud for storage as an alternative to old-school filing cabinets while others are using extensive resources for DevOps. And don’t forget about the customers who may rely on your product. These use cases have different needs and should be approached and planned differently.
With the cloud in use, your organization may have to set new internal policies for employees and should consider how changing compliance should be managed. If, for example, your organization is subject to PCI, GDPR, or HIPAA compliance, part of your change management would involve anticipating how these regulations impact your cloud transition and use. You will also need a policy restricting cloud use—so no one uploads their comedy video collection to their personal work cloud account.
Setting goals for how you transition and optimize the cloud is important but difficult without the careful planning associated with good change management. Understanding how change management works in your organization can help you choose the right goals and decide how you want to track and implement them.
By building clarity, your organization is in a better position to manage change moving forward.
Cloud change management vs. traditional ITIL change management
Because the cloud inherently changes how your organization operates, cloud change management is different from traditional IT change management, although there is some overlap.
ITIL change management and the need for a cloud change management framework
Traditional IT change management, as defined by AXELOS Limited, sets best practices in IT service management (ITSM) and describes what an organization needs for successful IT change. By reading each ITIL volume, you can see how companies traditionally understood IT change in terms of a lifecycle.
- Service strategy: The first book shows how to craft a strategy, understand the business value of change, and create your goals and requirements.
- Service design: Next, you would define your policies and documentation as well as create a plan based on your service strategy.
- Service transition: In this volume, you create a smooth transition with continuity of service.
- Service operation: From here, you work on streamlining service and ensuring operations meet expectations.
- Continual service improvement: Finally, your organization focuses on improving service on an ongoing basis.
Although you can still use ITIL volumes to help you define cloud change management, cloud infrastructure’s inherent properties and capabilities create the need for a new change management strategy, though the sentiment is still applicable.
Differences between ITIL and cloud change management
ITIL is focused on service transitions—moving from one vendor to another, adding a new data center, or getting all of your departments on board with a new platform. This framework stops short of issues that are specific to cloud transitions and improvements and does not reflect the cloud’s possibilities.
For example, ITIL change management involves establishing a business case for additional computing resources, but building a new data center is a more significant step than simply provisioning more cloud service.
Cloud change management, as understood by the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF), is segmented into different areas of focus instead of a lifecycle with different stages. These AWS CAF perspectives show another way to describe cloud change:
- Business: IT strategy is no longer separated from your business model but is seen holistically as an active part of your business.
- People: Internally, you encourage your team to adopt cloud skills.
- Governance: You bring together governance of the organization itself and of your IT.
- Platform: From your business goals, you strategically build your principles, policies, and tools—shaping how your company uses cloud technologies.
- Security: Developing your controls and modifying them to fit your business and use of the cloud, you prepare to fix non-compliance areas as they arise and plan for security changes.
- Operations: On an ongoing basis, you ensure that your perspective and approach to operations is meeting your business needs and the needs of your customers.
Since AWS CAF is compatible with ITIL change management, you can draw whatever from ITIL is valuable for your business goals. AWS CAF represents a cloud change management strategy you can use to shape cloud transition in your organization and your ongoing use of the cloud.
Why you need a cloud change management plan
The cloud transforms organizations—for example, a company that relied on quarterly releases can now continually roll out new updates. If that’s the case, the impact of new deployment models and business processes introduces changes within the rest of the organization. The more change is anticipated and accommodated, the better you’re able to adapt to challenges, reduce downtime, and position your team to successfully transition to the cloud.
The benefits of a change management plan are significant.
Benefit from Agile
- Deploy more often: Cloud technology helps organizations use Agile methodologies and shorten development cycles.
- Leave old deployment models: If your organization is still relying on traditional methods that no longer align with your business goals, cloud change management can help with the transition.
Prepare for rapid deployment
- Automate more: Automation can help with the testing needed for shorter deployment cycles. A cloud change management plan incorporates automation to enable more testing than would be possible manually.
- Improve collaboration: Working together more closely helps with the shorter development cycles since there isn’t time for communication silos that can delay a rollout.
- Embrace the lifecycle: The entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is in view when your change management strategy is prepared for rapid deployment.
Bring business and IT together
- IaC flexibility: By helping your organization benefit from infrastructure as code, a cloud management plan can help you more effectively plan business and IT activities through horizontal architecture.
- Shift to service: Go from a product to a service mindset, taking ownership of the results your business gets for customers.
- Adapt roles: Given the multitude of human resource and team role changes that the cloud can introduce in an organization, a change management plan that outlines responsibility changes and needs helps reduce confusion and leaves your team better prepared for the work ahead.
Potential challenges with CCM and how to overcome them
Cloud change management challenges often have some common threads—not enough or siloed communication, an inhibited approval process, or other traditional business processes and practices that don’t play well with the rapid movement and complexity of the cloud. Finding the right solution for your organization means doing a deep dive and applying cloud change management principles to come up with customized approaches.
Looking at these examples, you may find ideas for how cloud change management can help with your cloud transitions.
Lots of cross-departmental involvement
If every decision requires a level of input from stakeholders that slows down your organization, consider finding a way to involve stakeholders earlier. You can establish pre-approval for certain tasks and scenarios such as DNS updates to improve flexibility.
Too much cloud complexity
Using visuals can help your teams communicate important changes and discuss events. You can use Lucidchart Cloud Insights to collaborate on important issues together as an organization and allow everyone to see a visual of your current and future cloud architecture diagram.
Not meeting goals
Some organizations are working with old goals that no longer reflect business needs. Your team could be siloed, or resources could be mismatched. If you are managing cloud change without a change management plan developed for the cloud, your plan may not be ideal for a successful transition.
Misuse of cloud resources
Having clarity within your organization by crafting policies to guide cloud resource use helps with compliance. If your team is using the cloud to store personal photos or develop their own personal coding projects, your cloud management plan should include appropriate policies. Consider establishing a process for creating and managing cloud use standards.
When you can account for and manage cloud change in your organization, you are encouraging flexibility and giving your teams what they need to successfully use cloud services. The right change management plan becomes a working document and a set of best practices that adapt with your business.
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