Point of View

A Cloud Native mindset avoids swapping one technical debt for another

April 19, 2021

IT leaders can side-step costly challenges in cloud adoption if they maintain a OneOffice Mindset within a structured, innovation-focused journey to cloud-native culture – and beyond.

Despite all the marketing noise around technological capabilities such as containerization and microservices, the journey toward cloud-native operations offers greatest value when it takes in culture, people, and processes.



Lessons shared in the HFS Webinar: Accelerating and Consolidating Your Cloud-Native Future, highlighted the realities and risks of being dazzled by low-hanging, easy-option operating efficiencies of the Cloud.

Mark Smith, IT & Change Director, at The Ardonagh Group – the UK’s largest independent insurance broker – told how his initial shift to the Cloud had missed out on some key benefits – as identified in Cloud 1.0, Exhibit 1, by Yesh Subramanian, SVP and Head of Digital and Cloud Solutions, Mphasis. Mphasis has served as the digital transformation partner for The Ardonagh Group.

Exhibit 1: Mphasis observes results are built on secure foundations in a planned journey

Mark said his initial 2016 move into the cloud was a lift and shift with much consolidation for easy wins. Moving to Microsoft Azure allowed him to see what systems were being used for what purposes – leading to the removal of around 200 applications. What was more of a challenge was infrastructure transformation. And that was down to mindset.

He said: “Our cloud architecture mirrored our physical architecture. Over time that was the anchor that weighed us down with a new technical debt.”

From the original technical debt of his legacy/on-prem servers, he found he had landed himself with a similar challenge.

“Just under half our servers had a technical debt problem. Our shift to the second phase (Cloud 2.0 – the phase HFS describes as Cloud Native – Exhibit 2) was driven by that tech debt – it was holding back our transformation and actual day-to-day operation.

“We needed to change our mindset! We had to look at the problem through cloud eyes.”

Mark’s team solved their new challenge by looking at it by tech stack across the estate, rather than office-by-office.

Exhibit 2: Becoming Cloud Native is both a technology and a cultural shift

Source: HFS Research 2021

In this second phase of cloud adoption – Cloud Native – Mark’s team has been able to benefit from cloud analytics to identify innovations delivering new value. For example, he could now apply dynamic servicing – slashing the cost of the 80 Citrix servers he had been running full time – now only paying as and when they were needed.

And during the great COVID-19 Work-From-Home, cloud analytics has enabled much more than simply showing how many people are on the network using particular apps at any time. The team was able to use the data to identify who was doing well when working remotely, how they were doing it, and then scaling the benefits by sharing their innovations to others across the business.

Moving to the cloud brings business and IT together

Mphasis’ Yesh Subramanian says moving to Cloud Native allows you to become the data-driven, evidence-based organisation you want to be.

“You can‘t fluff here, you can see a very clear way of how things work or don’t work – and that means there is no ambiguity between the business and IT. Successful cloud-native transformations show three characteristics, easily recalled as the 3Ms: Mindset, Mental Models and Metrics – which subsequently drive speed, cost reduction and innovation.”

Cloud helps break silos in line with HFS’ OneOffice vision.

Tom Reuner – SVP Research at HFS believes as well as the need to change mindset and train people in the new technologies and in the culture, complete with cross-functional teams, we will also need enterprise-wide service monitoring to make sense of all the new complexity the emerging Cloud Dynamic (Exhibit 2) is bringing with it. That will have to be automated and AI-driven, with self-healing remediation becoming normal – a rapidly changing environment that human-only manual responses will prove too slow to command.

The Bottom Line: The journey toward cloud-native operations is more about culture, people, and processes than technology.

We can learn from the missed benefits of organizations that set out on the journey with cost-savings in mind. They tell us that greater business advantages are available from changing their mindset – viewing their challenges through ‘cloud eyes’ and innovating at speed in a Cloud Native culture.



Sign in to view or download this research.


Lost your password?


Insight. Inspiration. Impact.

Register now for immediate access of HFS' research, data and forward looking trends.

Get Started