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What Is a Cloud Operating Model?

What Is a Cloud Operating Model?

The cloud operating model is a conceptual representation of the techniques and processes that enable cloud computing to execute on business or organizational objectives. Understanding how you want your business to operate in the cloud is critical for laying out the architecture that will support its daily operations.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what cloud operating models can do for your business or organisation.

What is an operating model?

An operating model is a conceptual framework for designing and creating operational processes.

Why are cloud operating models important?

The meaning of the term “cloud operating model” is evolving from a basic description of cloud processes to a new vision of using the cloud model in an adaptive, flexible way, and delivered through public, private, on-premises, hybrid, and edge deployments.

Part of the cloud operating model vision is defining cloud processes around business objectives—not preferred technologies or legacy processes. This viewpoint will require integrating teams and systems, reimagining processes for greater agility, developing new management structures, and even redefining the culture within IT teams.

The requirements of an optimum cloud operating model and its systems should address these areas:

Cloud experience

  • Cloud storage service should be based on service outcomes and assurances, and not limited to technology assets or specifications. 
  • Consuming services or service levels that deliver the capabilities needed.
  • Having limitless access to those capabilities wherever and whenever they are needed.
  • The ability to link technology services to business models that continue to adapt to changing markets.

Cloud economics

  • Optimizing cost by using flexible payment models that are linked to the resources actually used, as opposed to what has been deployed or what is available to use.
  • Gaining additional advantage by offloading commercial and operational risk to providers.
  • The services consumed should provide continuous assurances of scalability, reliability and performance, with penalties for any under-delivery.

Cloud operations

  • High degree of API-driven automation and DevOps scope, with self-service interaction.
  • Visibility and control of the storage estate, enabling real-time decision making, or even automated policy-driven decisions about workload placement and estate management.
  • Having the practical ability to move data to where it needs to be, and to flex up consumption of storage when needed most, and flex down when not needed.

What challenges can the cloud operating model address?

As technologies, markets, and user expectations continue to rapidly evolve, many organisations are finding that outdated habits of cloud management—such as siloed teams, slow change management, default redundancies, and reactive, patchwork system growth—are liabilities in an era when agility and flexibility are essential.

Cloud migration, initially viewed as an either/or proposition, has become much more complex. While the use of public cloud resources can offer cost and flexibility benefits, the public cloud may not be considered secure enough for some uses or perform well enough for others—for example, a user that needs to access AI solutions in real time.

What are public vs. private cloud operating models?

The first iteration of the cloud operating model meant simply storing data with public cloud service providers. Next, applications, platforms, and services were hosted with providers and accessed over high-speed networks by dispersed users. Eventually, as the security, latency, and flexibility limitations of the public cloud became apparent, organisations responded by creating their own private clouds, either through dedicated services from CSPs or on their own premises.

Today, the best cloud operating model for some organisations is a customized hybrid cloud, with different elements of operations exploiting the strengths of public, private, hybrid, and edge clouds.

How is a cloud operating model different from a cloud adoption framework and a cloud operating architecture?

These terms are frequently used interchangeably. A cloud adoption framework is a set of procedures and best practices to help organisations achieve cloud adoption success. Cloud operating architecture is the combination of the design, components, systems, and resources that make up cloud deployments. As noted above, a cloud operating model goes beyond these approaches to include delivering value and meeting business objectives.

What are the benefits of a cloud operating model?

A carefully planned-out cloud operating model makes businesses more efficient, more agile, more resilient, more focused on customers and business outcomes, and ultimately, more profitable.

What are the steps needed to create and implement a cloud operating model?

The people, processes, and technology necessary for carrying out a successful cloud operating model will vary from organisation to organisation. In general, implementing a new cloud operating model requires reimagining and redesigning everything about achieving business objectives via the cloud.

The biggest challenge in implementing a new cloud operating model may be managing and getting buy-in from teams and people that need to step into new roles, accept new priorities, and collaborate in new ways.

In addition, organisations need to embrace the agility and flexibility that the cloud operating model can enable. In other words, it’s essential to accept the certainty of ongoing change—in markets, customers, products, and even whole business models—and to take a role in leading these changes.

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