Huh? What kind of an analogy is this you might think, but bare with me and hopefully you’ll be inspired with five lessons learned from my personal experience.

First off, I like to travel the world, a lot. Learning about different habits, cultures, and ways of dealing with challenges. I’m writing from Vietnam, where I’m on holiday with my wife and two kids. Flying in to Hanoi, this is our first introduction to the hustle and bustle of Vietnam and its traffic. Here traffic seems to never slow down, a continuous flow of motorbikes, cars, bicycles, cyclo’s and more motorbikes. Just check out the video The Most Insane Traffic Ever in Hanoi to fully understand what I mean.

I found that we can learn a  great deal from this, in an analogy to cloud transformation. So on to the lessons learned and their applicability to an enterprises transformation to cloud:

1. Take a leap of faith

The first day you’re in Hanoi every tourist is overwhelmed with this, wondering how to get across even one street making your way to your destination. Sure, on some streets the Vietnamese have placed stoplights. But these seem to be interpreted more as guidance to slow down a bit than to come to a full stop, no matter the color of the lights. So you just have to go for it, taking a leap of faith that everything will be fine once you’ve crossed the street.

Lesson for cloud transformation; not knowing how your transformational change will be completed, just trust that it will and go for it. As an example I see many clients starting proofs of concept with our latest PaaS platform Bluemix exactly like this.

2. Keep moving!

Once you’ve decided to go for it, keep going is your most valuable lesson. This is exactly as all the other traffic participants do, they slow down a bit if really needed, change course a bit, but never stop completely. The traffic here is quite comparable to a flowing river, organic and fluid. So go with the flow, or “đi với dòng chảy” as that say in Vietnam.

Lesson for cloud transformation; If you stand still, you dead (figure of speech). Basically IT will never be the same (a previous blog post, in Dutch), changing at a seemingly increasing pace.

3. Continuously adapt along the way

With every motorcycle passed, and every step taken, there is more to come. So constantly adapt your pace and take the route of least resistance. Also carefully choose your point of departure, multi-lane streets need another strategy than narrow ones.

Lesson for cloud transformation; like IT projects, try to avoid multi-lane and complex crossings when possible. But sometimes you just have to. What can make your transition less permanent, more adaptable, is to use container services along your transformation like Bluemix adopted.

4. Celebrate success, gather lessons learned

Yes! You’ve made it, and practiced the first three recommendations. Probably you have made some observations, like taking extra caution of the odd tourist on a motorcycle trying to manage themselves. Or never to assume that a one way street would actually mean that traffic is only coming from one direction. Use these lessons, and head on to the next street to cross to apply your updated strategy.

Lesson for cloud transformation; Think big, act small. Now you’ve experienced your first transformation define lessons learned and update your strategy accordingly. A great asset I use for defining cloud strategy and capturing lessons learned is the IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture.

5. Embrace continuous challenge

Once you’ve gotten a hang of it, say your third day in Hanoi, you start to enjoy overcoming the challenge of crossing streets in Hanoi. You’ll navigate with ease to the water-puppet theater, one of its many street-food stalls or shops.

Lesson for cloud transformation; take and solve challenges as they come using a step-by-step approach, keeping your compass to your long-term cloud strategy.

I hope you’ve been inspired with this analogy and the lessons learned. If not, at least you’ll know now how to get around in Hanoi now ;-)​

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Edwin Schouten

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