Controlling cloud spend presents numerous challenges at enterprise scale. Organizations that proactively and holistically manage their cloud environments get the most cloud for each dollar spent, and ensure ongoing, cost-effective cloud operations.
Too often, enterprises second guess their cloud investments as sizeable, difficult to parse cloud provider bills mount. Many organizations struggling to curb their cloud costs wonder if they made the right decision to move to the cloud in the first place.
Cloud cost optimization can be achieved—largely by identifying and remediating suboptimal cloud infrastructure provisioning and establishing cloud financial management best practices. It is possible for enterprises to enjoy the benefits of elasticity, high availability, reliability, and agility.
Cloud cost optimization is the net result of successful Financial Operations (FinOps) – a set of business practices that link controls over the variable spend model of cloud to financial accountability.
Successfully optimizing cloud costs requires the enterprise to master two distinct areas:
Intelligent Procurement of Cloud Services: Taking advantage of savings programs like cloud savings plans and capacity reservations addresses low hanging savings opportunities
Intelligent Optimization of Cloud Capacity: Intelligently matching your cloud workloads to the optimal instance and resource configuration
Approaches for FinOps include:
Reducing compute costs in the cloud by continuously rightsizing and strategically utilizing Reserved Instances and Savings Plans to take advantage of even greater discounts
Identifying and resolving hidden line items that may be secretly contributing to excess cloud spend
Building a culture of cost awareness and increasing cloud spend consciousness across teams through tactics like showback/chargeback and automated reporting
By establishing well-defined Cloud Operating Model and a FinOps organization or Cloud Center of Excellence.
Cloud cost optimization does not have to be complicated, but it does require a disciplined approach that establishes good rightsizing habits and continuously drive insights and action through analytics to lower your cloud bill and the bottom line.
Now a days it is quite common for companies to buy direct competitors or companies operating in adjacent industries, such that the target company would fit in nicely with the acquirer’s core business. M&A mergers and acquisitions typically involve a significant amount of due diligence including what obligations it is assuming, the nature and extent of the seller’s contingent liabilities, problematic contracts, litigation risks, intellectual property issues, and much more. This is particularly true in private company acquisitions, in which the seller has not been subject to the scrutiny of the public markets.
Recent M&A activity and litigation have highlighted the need for CEOs to conduct careful due diligence as to potential risks, especially investigating seller’s technology including data breach and cybersecurity issues, and intellectual property issues.
Following are the key areas the CEO should consider for technology due diligence for the target company:
Has the seller taken appropriate steps to protect its intellectual property?
What technology in-licenses does the seller have?
What software is critical to the seller’s operations?
Does the seller have sufficient IT systems, including computer, information technology, and data-processing systems and facilities, for existing and currently anticipated future needs?
Does the sellers has all the necessary compliance and security audits on it technology systems to minimize exposure from external threats.
A typical technology due diligence consist of reviewing seller’s technology organization, application and services management, operation and infrastructure management of its technology systems for business continuity and growth.
In today’s connected world, the chances of a hackers targeting any organization are extremely high. There are monetary and reputational risks if an organization do not have an appropriate cybersecurity plan. Cybersecurity is about making sure organization’s data is safe from unauthorized access or damage from both internal and external bad actors. The goal of any cybersecurity strategy is to ensure confidentiality, data integrity, and availability. The most common cyber security threats all organizations face are phishing, ransomware, and business email compromise attacks.
Phishing emails are sent by hackers, and they pretend to be from someone you trust like your bank or your local council or even a colleague. Their goal is to convince you to do something which they can use to their advantage, such as click on a link to a malicious website or provide login and other personal details. Phishing emails are one of the main methods hackers use to deploy ransomware and business email compromise attacks.
Business email compromise attacks target employees within an organization by sending spoof emails which fraudulently represent senior colleagues or trusted clients. The emails use social engineering techniques to issue illicit instructions, such as approving payments to hackers’ bank accounts or releasing confidential client data that can be leaked on the Dark Web.
Ransomware’s primary aim is to extort money from organizations and individuals who are infected. It achieves this by encrypting files that are saved locally and on shared drives connected to affected machines and then threatening to leak stolen confidential information onto the public internet. Once files have been encrypted, the user is notified and asked to pay money, typically in cryptocurrency, to obtain a key that will unencrypt the files.
To maintain organization’s operational integrity, a CEO with the assistance of his/her CTO needs to minimize these risks as far as possible when it comes to pernicious threats. A cost-benefit is a great way to assess projects because it reduces the evaluation complexity to a single figure. Risk management is all about managing uncertainties. When it comes to preventing costly cyber-attacks, there’s significant value to be found in investing upfront to avoid paying a higher price later.
Most of the larger organizations have cybersecurity roles within the organization to drive Cybersecurity initiatives for the organization under the guidance of their CTOs. Smaller organizations usually implement cybersecurity strategies by employing outside cybersecurity firms.
In the era of digital economy and continuous change the success of any organization depends on the leadership team. One of the most challenging and important role to hire in the leadership team is the CTO role. The challenge for most CEOs is what are the top skills that are most important for the CTO to be successful with their organization. Following are three phases of fast-growing company as described by the Stanford School of Business. In my career I have experienced these stages, from early to late. This graph gives a good overview for any CEO who is looking to hire or promote within to the CTO role.
The success of organization heavily depends on how close the product strategy is aligned with the tech strategy. Following are few steps a CEO should expect from its CTO to ensure both tech and product strategies are aligned for a successful execution.
A good tech strategy clearly links tech initiatives to business goals.
Tech leadership should provide a concise way for stakeholders to digest how tech initiatives are supporting the organization. There should be a communication plan.
A well-crafted tech strategy is critical to enhancing business stakeholder satisfaction and building relationships with business stakeholder.
Tech strategy should be driven based on the business context.
There should be prioritization matrix to help make project decisions in a holistic manner that allows for the selection of the most valuable initiatives to become part of the tech strategic roadmap.
Focus should be on innovation and creativity only on what creates sustainable competitive advantage.
The tech leadership should achieve operational agility and excellence through the adoption of best practices, simplification, and standardization.
There should be focus on workplace culture where people want to be, not have to be.
The success of most organizations rely on how successful they are on executing on their technology strategy. Most CEOs are not highly technical, but they are responsible for leading companies whose success are highly dependent on the strength of their technology.
Following are few steps a CEO can take to foster healthy relationship between its tech and business teams.
Hire a CTO with proven record in building and leading teams of world-class engineers and has successfully lunched products into the market.
Make sure that the technical objectives of the organization are clearly defined.
CTO has defined a clear technical strategy with consensus from the rest of the leadership team.
Tech execution path must be planed and communicated by the CTO and presented to rest of the business.
CTO should also add value to non-technical areas of the business-like marketing, finance and HR.
A smooth flow of communication between the business and the tech should be established. There should be no room for any communication gap between them; and even if there are any, an efficient CTO is expected to fill the gap.
The CEO should value the CTO’s contribution and provide him/her with ample opportunities and freedom to grow intellectually without second-guessing.
Over the years public cloud has given a way to curb data center expenditures for organizations of all sizes. While the pay-as-you-go model of cloud computing brings significant opportunities for savings, it also requires new approach to minimize waste and optimize spending. In the absence of advanced planning these anticipated cost savings can become a huge expense for any firm to manage if left unchecked.
Following are few tips for a CEO to be aware when reviewing organization’s public cloud budget with his/her tech leadership:
Ensure clear business outcomes and KPIs are defined by the tech leadership using value-to-spend analysis.
Make sure your CTO has presented you with a clear public cloud strategy that is based on workload dependencies rather than focusing solely on usage and capacity patterns.
Cost of services that best meet organization’s needs and budget are calculated using the cost calculator offered by the public cloud provider.
Make sure the tech team has the expertise to develop applications specifically for the cloud. Leveraging cloud-native services and optimization initiatives can quickly achieve desired efficiencies.
Services should be provisioned using auto-scaling services. Auto-scaling can automatically adjust capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost.
Prepaid discounts for reserved instances should be included in the budget. This option provides considerable savings, particularly if capacity is known or it can be accurately predicted.
There should not be any cost for unused instances.
The above-mentioned controls sand efficiencies can be handled by the internal tech team or by a managed services provider who can help optimize and manage the cloud spending and efficiently provision your cloud resources.
There have been rapid and exciting developments in the fields of Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine learning (ML) for the enterprise. But the developments present an unavoidable question for the CEOs “Where should investments be made to enhance intelligence in an enterprise”.
Following are the key points to consider when thinking of how to extract the most business value from AI/ML enhancements in your organizations.
Hire technical leadership either full time or fractional basis who has a track record in delivering AI/ML initiatives.
Leverage AI/ML services from vendors like Azure and Google (build vs. buy approach).
Understand your business uses cases with the greatest impact areas e.g. customer engagement, employee empowerment, workflow improvements or operations optimization.
Make sure your team understands your organization’s current data sources.
Identify business cases for quick wins for the business. e.g. automating tedious and boring back office finance operations.
By starting on the the Intelligent Enterprise journey, you can make it easier for your organization to become more customer focus, more flexible, and more response to the market demand so they can not only compete but excel in this new experience-driven intelligent economy.