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Hey, cloud execs: Stop sidelining your network team

Dana Iskoldski
Dana Iskoldski

A new report reveals four key issues that contribute to the rift between cloud teams and traditional network infrastructure teams.

There’s an underlying success gap preventing many organizations from realizing the full benefit of their investment into the cloud. In fact, the latest research from Enterprise Management Associates and BlueCat reveals that approximately 72% of enterprises struggle to reap the full benefits — leaving them wondering what went wrong in the cloud adoption journey.

An essential factor to cloud adoption success is often hiding right under IT execs’ noses: closing the gulf between the traditional network infrastructure team and the cloud team. Failure to support collaboration between these teams can lead to at best, missed opportunities, and at worst, severe organization-wide issues. 

In fact, after surveying 212 networking and cloud professionals in March, the research found striking consequences stemming from dysfunction between these teams. In the past year alone:

  • 73% of surveyed organizations suffer security or compliance issues, such as regulatory fines or data leaks 
  • 89% suffer IT operations challenges, such as delayed application rollouts and poor user experience
  • 82% suffer business problems, such as customer churn and lost revenue.

Without proper collaboration between teams, building hybrid and multi-cloud architectures that are agile, high-performing, reliable, and secure is out of the picture.

So, how can IT executives break down the silos and narrow the gap? Often, there are only a few key issues at play. Once these are identified, taking the necessary steps towards easing dysfunction becomes much easier.

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Issue 1: You’re not leading both teams into the relationship.

According to the research, organizations that achieved success with the cloud were twice as likely to say that leadership had been successful in supporting collaboration amongst them. Supporting collaboration means helping these teams align around mutually-beneficial goals. This can seem difficult to do, when a whopping 41% of cloud adoption is not driven by centralized leadership, but rather by scattered groups like developers, non-technical leadership, and individual business units.

Paying lip service to collaboration is not enough.  IT executives need to personally get involved in building bridges at all levels, and not leave it to middle management, who often become defensive of the rote way of doing things.  Solution: IT execs should take care to include themselves in the process of developing the relationship or risk exposing a gap in the ecosystem.

Issue 2: You’re sidelining your network teams.

Consider this: a DNS or IP addressing design mistake made early in an enterprise cloud project can take as many as five years to recover from. The research found that 88% of respondents believe that the network team should have visibility and input into cloud design, and cloud success was also correlated to this response. 

Unfortunately, the research also showed that the network team is more likely to be left out of conversations about the cloud. Leaving network pros and their wealth of institutional knowledge, and understanding of foundational principles, out of the cloud journey prevents everyone from seeing into – and rectifying – the full extent of issues arising from cloud adoption efforts until it’s too late. 

Solution: IT execs should highlight the benefits of bringing network teams along. Respondents listed that benefits span from areas such as security, compliance, networking (specifically, DNS and IP space management), and more. 

Issue 3: You’re not unifying critical functions, like security, compliance, and DDI. 

Most enterprises now fully unify security and DNS management, and almost half unify compliance management across on-premises and cloud networks. There’s a reason for this. Without a streamlined approach to these core services, there’s a major risk of fractured processes across the board.

Unification of IP address space management is particularly important to address. While this is difficult to do well, nearly all of the unsuccessful enterprises in this research prefer to keep IP space management siloed, meaning that not doing so is certainly a bad strategy. Equipping teams with the processes and tools needed to centralize core services is vital. For example, BlueCat helps enterprises unify management of their DNS, DHCP, and IP real estate, which helps directly address some of the challenges that harm a hybrid cloud strategy. (There are, of course, many other examples.) Successful cloud adopters were twice as likely to say their toolset for managing the challenges of networking in the cloud is very good.

Solution: IT leaders need to ensure critical functions are unified and not siloed.

Issue 4: You’re not ensuring your teams have the proper skills and knowledge.

Overall, there are two crucial training priorities: learning about the network features of individual cloud providers, and broadening knowledge around network security concepts. Cloud teams often have a limited understanding of networking, and network teams are not up to date with the tools and solutions that cloud teams use, so both teams must become educated on the other’s skillsets.

They should also be given access to technologies and tools used by their peers in the other silo. Not only does this prevent animosity, but it also allows for visibility across the entire suite and ensures you’re gaining the full value of the cloud adoption initiative by not leaving network teams behind. 

Solution: generate high level understanding across the entire organization of different teams’ functions and value to the broader mission.

Moving to the cloud is a serious investment that requires the engagement of both cloud and network teams, and the understanding that adopting a new technology often includes collaborating and building upon what is already in place. Rarely is it a process of just discarding the old and embracing the new. To get it right and maximize the investment just takes the right extra effort and understanding. 

Dana Iskoldski is Senior Corporate Communications Manager at BlueCat. Since 2018, she has been developing the organization’s media relations, influencer relations, social media, and content programs. Dana lives in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, volunteers as the lead on PR and communications with TEDxToronto, and is often reminded of how little she knows on the tennis court.

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