Modernizing with VMware Cloud on AWS

Modernizing with VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware Cloud on AWS transforms modernization into a steady, consistent marathon you can win on your first attempt

Modernization is something most businesses want to do, but it often takes a backseat to other business priorities. When leaders consider short term quick wins through application migrations vs longer term modernization initiatives – the appeal of speed frequently wins the decision making process.

However, much like training for and running a marathon, successful modernization requires gradual activity over a long period of time, as well as a high level of persistence – you can’t train for a marathon by running 400 meter sprints 6 times a day 3 months before the start. If you do try to make IT Transformation a sprint, you may fast-track the wrong priorities and end up with high costs, stressed staff, and poor results.

Expanding your options

Let’s say your organization has only a six month window to modernize due to an upcoming data center contract expiration. You believe it will take you a full year to modernize 100% of your workloads – potentially faster with accelerators like an influx of capital or a new CIO joining the company. What do you do?

In this scenario, you usually have two choices:

  • Attempt to accelerate the modernization or try to “sprint” without misjudging priorities
  • Reluctantly sign the renewal and ask to extend the timeline to a year to give yourself the best chance to succeed

Fortunately, VMware Cloud (VMC) on AWS offers a far better third choice:

  • Do not sign the renewal, and instead remove cost from the business by rapidly and safely moving your workloads to a like-for-like technical home within the six-month window

A rapid migration with long term results

Recently, one of our global enterprise customers had to evacuate a data center in three months. Their lease renewal was coming up and they did not want the long-term commitment. With the exit date set in stone, VMware Cloud on AWS was the best option for hitting their goal of cancelling the data center contract. 

With the flexibility needed to analyze each workload to the depth required, they successfully evacuated the data center in time and secured an additional 12 months to migrate over to native AWS. As a result, the company saved $1.8 million over a span of 18 months.

VMware Cloud on AWS allows you to migrate applications quickly with very low risk, with the opportunity to modernize over a longer period of time.

Analyzing the best execution venue for workloads

Ideally, you should be analyzing the best execution venue for your workloads on a regular basis. However, most IT professionals only consider the technologies currently available. While the venue may never change, it is important to be both aspirational and pragmatic about this analysis to ensure you are exploring all possibilities. 

Taking the time to evaluate your best execution venue can help you find the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) with the maximum business value. For example, your analysis may reveal that VMware technology that is reliable, performant, and well-supported is a better choice than microservices with event-driven compute and orchestrated containers.

In the data center renewal scenario above, if 100% of the applications are running in VMware Cloud on AWS and it is possible to perfectly map the utilization requirement, you may find that 75% are eligible for a complete refactoring. This would dramatically increase performance and reduce cost, leaving the remaining 25% of applications running as a dependable baseline. 

Common roadblocks to modernizing applications

During a marathon, there’s a big difference between stubbing your toe and falling down. A small misstep won’t prevent you from continuing on. But if you hit the ground, picking yourself back up and staying in the race is a lot harder. The same is true with a modernization project.

Working with an experienced partner can keep you running smoothly along your path to modernization. Here are three common pitfalls to watch for:

1: Out of Scope Responsibilities

Have you ever heard someone in IT say, “That’s not my responsibility?” 

Companies that try to tackle modernization on their own end up managing numerous vendors across departments. When an issue arises, vendors can often only confirm whether the issue is their responsibility. If it falls out of their scope, it is then up to the business to figure out how to solve the bigger problem.

This comes up often on troubleshooting calls. Someone will inevitably claim they can’t help because it is outside of their scope (“That’s a networking issue, and I’m a database guy so you’ll have to talk with someone else”). The statement may be factual, but it also reveals whether a vendor is a true partner to your organization – or simply passing the buck.

Make sure you find a trusted partner that strives towards business outcomes, and will assume responsibility as broadly as needed to get your issues resolved.

2: Forgetting about the Use Case

Organizations often start a migration or transformation by drilling down to the lowest common denominator of CPU/ RAM/Storage. However, beginning modernization with an understanding of what your users require will result in a solution that meets their needs. 

In addition, if you are only considering CPU/RAM/Storage and then try to pick up your application and put it on top of the cloud, you may miss critical business considerations such as licensing and networking. Remember, not everything maps one-to-one from a migration point of view compared to on-premises. 

Take time to evaluate what your workload truly needs before starting to modernize. This will ensure a smarter architecture and ensure a better user experience.

3: Underestimating the Benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware Cloud on AWS is an essential strategic solution for any organization utilizing VMware and embracing modernization. You may want to rush to the latest cloud native technologies, but gaining access to innovation requires thoughtful planning and execution. 

VMware Cloud on AWS can accelerate your digital transformation, making you more efficient, more secure, and more productive in the long run. 

Slow and steady wins the modernization race, and having the right team on your side can ensure you get across the finish line. Learn more about VMware Cloud on AWS.

Tom Spalding is Chief Growth Officer at Effectual, Inc. 

Bridging the IT Skills Gap

Bridging the IT Skills Gap

One of the most difficult challenges facing businesses today is bridging the “Skills Gap” in IT.

This is a phenomenon whereby a business’s desire to leverage new and expanding technologies is hindered by the lack of available talent and skillsets to architect, implement, and manage these technologies.

Businesses commonly navigate this gap through the use of outside consultants, relying on a team of high-performing individuals holding extensive experience within a specific domain. Engaging a consultancy to assist in the architecture and implementation of desired technologies accelerates adoption and provides breathing room for a company’s own staff to learn and practice the new technologies. This time to practice and learn should not to be overlooked and is essential to the success of any transformative process. The “Building a car while driving” metaphor comes to mind.

This skills gap is not limited to businesses looking to implement new technologies. Ironically, this conundrum has not bypassed IT vendors, and it is fairly common to see the same gap between IT Sales Professionals and the technologies they’re selling.

It is fairly common to see a gap between IT Sales Professionals and the technologies they’re selling.

The Team Approach

IT vendors separate the necessary skills to govern a sales cycle (commercial skills) with the knowledge and expertise of the products they’re selling (technical skills) by partnering a commercially skilled employee with a technically skilled employee. This approach has permeated the market to such an extent that prospective clients now expect their vendors to show up Noah’s Ark style, two by two.

There is still a struggle to find technically skilled people to accompany commercially skilled sales staff. Mitigation strategies have a certain effectiveness; teaming four or five commercially skilled individuals with a single technically skilled employee allows IT vendors to maximize the effectiveness of their expertise. Technically skilled people are not super-human, although some of the most brilliant deserve to be classified as such, and they can only support so many client conversations, differing sales cycles, and solutions. Eventually “Something’s Gotta Give”. This mitigation is merely a stop-gap solution. The underlying issue is still prevalent; all businesses need a certain number of technically skilled individuals to remain competitive. The fight for talent continues.

IT vendors are also trying to address this gap by putting a ‘paywall’ between prospective clients and technically skilled individuals, charging clients for their employees’ time and experience to assess their current needs. This solution lines up neatly with the consultancy approach. If you have something a business wants, don’t give it away for free. This also places more responsibility and pressure on the commercially skilled individual, forcing them ensure they qualify a true need with their clients before requesting a potentially limited resource. When a client opts to pay for the time and experience of a technically skilled individual, they are showing real intent to form a business relationship.

This approach fails when commercially skilled individuals don’t qualify the needs of a client in detail and overpromise on the capabilities of their technical counterparts. Again, these technologists are not superhuman and come with a caveat – ‘Magic Wand Not Included.’

It is now the responsibility of a commercially skilled individual to gain some measure of technical skill.

Without a technically skilled individual in the room when qualifying questions are being asked, commercially skilled individuals can be forgiven for misunderstanding the technical requirements of a client. In these scenarios, sales may inadvertently offer a solution to a client need that their product or service does not solve. This can lead to perpetuating the classic salesperson stereotype– just agree to anything in order to close a deal.

At effectual, our approach to sales, which we believe is shared by the majority of our peers, is to avoid this at all costs. At no point do we want to have a client conversation that starts with “But you said…”. This stems from a desire to do business openly, honestly, and with integrity. Recognizing that not every client is in need of what you are selling is vital.

The Importance of Professional Development

With this context, I’d like to address the crux of how I personally went about bridging the gap. In order to avoid overpromising, underdelivering, and starting a client relationship that is doomed from day one, it is my belief that it is now the responsibility of a commercially skilled individual to gain some measure of technical skill. In fact, I’ll phrase that more strongly: gain as much technical skill as necessary so you can speak with confidence or reply with “I don’t know but I’ll find out.”

Commercially skilled individuals may have raised their eyebrows, adopted an incredulous look, or stopped reading altogether, and that’s fine. Nowhere in a commercially skilled employee’s job description does it state they need to be technically qualified or expected to perform two job roles for a single salary. There is a logical line of thinking that emerges here. If they were hired for the skills they have already acquired, why would should they be expected to develop skills in a different discipline for a role they have no intention of performing.

My argument however is simple: why not? Broadening your horizons is never a negative, and learning new skills, gaining empathy for other people’s challenges, and respecting their achievements is never a bad thing. Meeting your current and potential clients halfway or the whole way is never a bad thing.

With technically skilled individuals being in such high demand, and without enough of them to go around, surely being able to operate without them creates a competitive advantage. I’m not suggesting that the commercially skilled pivot entirely and a embark on a drastic career change, only that a little knowledge is empowering, and a lot of knowledge is powerful. Watch as the atmosphere of client meetings change from “I’m being sold to” to “this person knows what they’re talking about.”

A little knowledge is empowering, and a lot of knowledge is powerful.

You can gain a better understanding of exactly how a product or service can assist a prospective client, identify incompatibility early on, and qualify out with confidence. It takes an expanded skill set to understand when the fit is not right, and it takes integrity to step away.

Earning the Respect of Your Clients and Your Team

Technically skilled individuals who play the yin to commercial individual’s yang will be Sales’ biggest supporters. I know this from experience and have made some wonderful friendships as a result (I hope they’re reading this). Operating with more autonomy doesn’t mean you are trying to replace them, just helping to ease their burden. When you finally do request help, they know it will be an interesting challenge, an opportunity for them to impart some knowledge on someone keen to absorb it, or to get creative with a solution because the standard approaches aren’t working.

How do they know all this? Because they know that when you ask, you’ve already ruled out the most common technical approaches. You’ve met them halfway.

I don’t presume to speak on behalf of my better qualified and more experienced technical counterparts, but I hope they’ll agree that they get the biggest kicks out of solving tough challenges, not answering the same questions over and over.

Yes, I feel it’s important for commercially skilled individuals to bridge the gap between commercial and technical skills. Selfishly, it’s for their own benefit for now, but it’ll soon become a necessity as the market-wide skills gap continues to grow.

Tom Spalding is a Strategic Account Manager at Effectual, Inc.