Level up your Cloud Transformation with Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA)
For organizations moving to the cloud, fully embracing its benefits is not straightforward. Even with strong management buy-in and approved business cases, executional challenges are common.
Do the below challenges resonate with what you are facing now in your cloud journey?
- No single-threaded owner of cloud initiatives, impacting velocity of decision-making
- Unable to effectively prioritize applications to move to the cloud , impacting time to value
- Security and operations teams unaware of best practices to validate migration readiness, delaying review and approval process production readiness
- Infrastructure teams at a loss on which best practice migration approach to employ, resulting in inefficient processes and wastage of time & cloud costs
- FinOps teams question the cost viability of the cloud due to rising cloud costs, putting at risk entire cloud strategy
In this blog post, we will talk about Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA), a methodology that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has collected and codified to assist customers in resolving issues and roadblocks related to their cloud journey. In this post, we will share the following:
- What is an EBA and how it helps accelerate your journey to the cloud
- Types of EBA parties to address specific cloud journey challenges and outcomes
- What does a successful and effective EBA look like : Best Practices
- How EBAs have impacted customers – Some Recent Success Stories
- How to arrange for an EBA
EBA party and how it helps accelerate your cloud journey
Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA) is a hands-on and agile-approach to execute specific cloud objectives. We use this in workshops called ‘EBA Parties’, aimed at addressing friction points and blockers to an organization’s cloud journey. In these parties, customer and partners builders develop new ways of working and collaboration. Together they solve problems while learning best practices in an interactive and immersive setting.
First piloted in 2018, EBAs are a popular format now among AWS customers and partners. In 2022, we executed 268 EBA parties across 125 customers globally. As of this writing, we continue to receive requests to do more.
EBA parties specific to your cloud journey challenges
We have been innovating on formats of EBAs to match customer’ specific challenges throughout their cloud journey. The five commonly adopted formats or as well call flavors are outlined below:
1. Platform Party
Customers early in their migration, find themselves stuck with how to validate their AWS Landing Zone (LZ). They are seeking prescriptive guidance (e.g. Control Tower, Landing Zone Accelerator) suitable for their migration needs. They need guidance on areas including:
- Operating Model best practices
- Processes to follow
- Governance and Security Guardrails to set-up
The goal of a Platform party is to validate and ‘stress-test’ a newly deployed LZ. Intent is to get it ready for large scale migrations. The LZ is the starting point from which an organization can quickly launch and deploy workloads.
Sponsor for the Platform Party: CIO or Head of Infrastructure Operations
Platform Party Outcomes: Outcomes of a platform party include validation of security, operational procedures and policies enforced in the LZ. In some cases, the party also includes migration of 2-3 applications to test the foundation and new cloud operating model. The focus however, is to test, refine and document practices for replication for mass migration activities. A customer in Singapore adopted this party when upgrading its Control Tower and a host of guardrails to cover relevant regions and new accounts for its existing Landing Zone.
2. Migration Party
Migration Party is the most popular EBA format (51% of all EBAs globally in 2022). Migration party seeks to help customers build migration capabilities. The goal is to employ and document migration patterns (i.e. Migration Strategies) for future guidance and replication in large scale migrations. It is a great fit for customers, who do not have enough skills to execute a mass migration.
Sponsor for the Migration Party: CIO or Head of Infrastructure Operations
Migration Party Outcomes: Outcomes of a migration party include onboarding of 3-5 applications into non-prod and production environments. These applications are typically representative of the portfolio approved under the cloud business case. Runbooks document step-by-step operational procedures. These are tested for each of the employed migration approaches (e.g. Rehost, Replatform, Relocate, etc.) and refined for replication. Deliverables may also cover documentation and execution of automation approaches (e.g. Infrastructure as Code). In Indonesia, a financial services company accelerated migration of 10 applications from 9 to 6 months on the back of 2 migration parties run to support internal and partner migration teams.
3. Modernization Party
The Modernization party is suitable for customers, who have completed one or more migration waves to the AWS platform, and are now looking to take advantage of the latest modernization trends. Builders may lack experience in adopting cloud native architecture, managed cloud services, databases and/or opens source technologies, and require prescriptive guidance on modernization strategy and a hands-on experience on the relevant AWS services.
Sponsor for the Modernization Party: Head of DevOps or Cloud Engineering
Modernization Party Outcomes: One or more applications rearchitected and re-deployed using containers or serverless architectures. Similar to a Migration party, runbooks specific to the technology and tools, are prepared and tested. Runbooks are refined and turned into reusable assets as guidance for future replication. A Vietnam customer successfully deployed 2 small internal applications using Amazon EKS to assess their DevOps team’s skills and capabilities in the domain.
4. FinOps Party
FinOps party is a new type of EBA Party that was introduced recently. This is a purpose-built EBA designed to address usage and spend optimization requirements of customers. This Party leverages on the AWS Cloud Financial Management methodology. FinOps parties were piloted with customers in Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia in 2022, and is being rolled out globally.
A FinOps party is designed to enable customers build operational muscle in the area of Cloud Financial Management. Intent is to achieve cost efficiencies and address Financial Management related blockers slowing down cloud adoption. Focus is on sharing and adoption of best practices on Cloud Cost Measurement & Accountability, Cost Optimization, Cost Planning & Forecasting, and Cloud Financial Operations.
This party has been impactful for customers who see a sharp increase in their monthly spend, usually after a large migration and may look to AWS to establish best practices on tracking their cloud usage and spends. They are keen to optimize their cloud usage (ex: rightsizing), adopt cost effective technologies (e.g. Graviton, GP3), and take advantage of commitment-based purchase options like Reserved Instance (RI) /Savings Plans (SP).
Sponsor for the FinOps Party: Cloud Operations Head or CFO or CIO
FinOps Party Outcomes: Outcomes of the FinOps Party include, cost savings achieved, best practices operationalized, adoption of cost and usage centric dashboards using AWS tools etc. A customer in Indonesia adopted best practices in cloud optimization on 3 applications which resulted into annual savings of $100K.
5. People or Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) Party
People party helps customers understand their preferred cloud operating model and guide them to build a foundational team called Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE). A CCoE’s main purpose is to develop the approach for implementing cloud technology at scale across the enterprise.
Also called CCoE party, this EBA format is a good fit for those, that lack single threaded leadership for cloud initiatives. Other challenges include, lack of accountability among the cloud teams, lack of clear cloud strategy. These challenges eventually slow down their execution.
Sponsor for the People Party: CEO, CIO or a Senior HR Executive
People Party Outcomes: Outcomes of a CCOE party include the formation of a foundational CCOE team. CCOE roles and functions are defined and documented. The organization’s cloud goals and strategies are also re-validated during the process. These were exactly the outcomes for a Brunei customer who decided to run this party, after months of struggling with stalled migrations. Key achievement was the establishment of a core team of cloud leaders appointed to oversee all cloud initiatives across the organization.
What does a successful and effective EBA look like : Best Practices
While EBAs are aimed at solving specific blockers and challenges faced by our customers, experience running multiple EBAs has taught us important lessons. First, EBAs can fail to achieve planned outcomes mainly because teams lacked governance in planning and tracking their execution against their plans and goals, during and after the EBA execution.
We recommend these best practices if you are planning an EBA. These recommendations, will ensure successful EBA planning, execution, results tracking and continuous adoption of practices.
- An EBA party must be sponsored by a senior executive. The sponsor (i.e. CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO), must have the authority to drive organizational-wide initiatives (e.g. Cloud Transformation). Without the Sponsor, participants may not be willing to invest sufficient effort and commitment and much less on follow through.
- There must be a lead (“EBA lead”) appointed by the EBA sponsor to work with AWS and partners to formulate EBA objectives, agenda, and identify participants and stakeholders. An EBA is doomed to fail if there is no ownership. EBA leads (up to 2 persons) should own its execution and ensure alignment of its outcomes to a business objective.
- Establish clear and business-aligned EBA outcomes and metrics that will be tracked and exposed to senior management for continuous adoption; e.g. applications to migrate and modernize, amount of cost-savings to achieve, use of infrastructure-as-code (IAC) in infrastructure provisioning to improve staff productivity and reduce configuration errors, etc. These outcomes are important and tangible deliverables that link the EBA activity to a business goal.
- An EBA aspiring to accomplish one-off outcomes is not optimal. EBA outcomes should establish practices that will be scaled, tracked and exposed to senior management for continuous adoption and improvement. It’s not an EBA you are doing, if nothing in your objectives aim to accelerate an activity or process, adopt a best practice, or optimize savings or efficiency.
- Formulate granular party agenda that translates into goals and cohesive tasks organized in workstreams. Do not stop until you translate your EBA goal into tasks, grouped into a cohesive set of workstreams, organized by the hour and with named task owners and workstream leaders. Without structure and task ownership, EBA teams will waste effort and time sorting this out during the EBA party.
- Allow sufficient time (at least 4 weeks) to plan the party with AWS and partner teams. This ensures alignment across groups (e.g. Application Owners, Infrastructure, DevOps, FinOps teams) on goals, objectives, tasks and outcomes. In EBAs we have seen, lack of alignment among stakeholders has led to blockers and issues during execution causing undue delay and friction, and eventually to failed outcomes.
- Optimize distribution of cross-functional skills. Maximize cross-skilled builders by considering them for command center roles. Having them sit in a single workstream during the EBA will get them pulled out to assist others and impact overall progress. Take the opportunity to appoint another builder as workstream lead in such scenarios.
- Ensure relevant representation from all key functions (e.g. Support, Security, Finance) required to accomplish your workstream objectives. Their absence or non-participation could be a blocker to your progress.
- Don’t forget about your theme (i.e. any party theme) and about making EBA fun (e.g. Play Kahoot games, use Cowbells to celebrate task completions). The theme fills in the gaps. When energy is low, when progress is not going as expected, inject fun activities to refresh and fire up teams.
How EBAs have impacted customers – Some Recent Success Stories
One of the main reasons why EBAs are so popular is that they deliver results in an Accelerated timeframe for our customers. Some recent examples from Asia Pacific include:
Telkomsel, the largest Telco in Indonesia leveraged 2 EBAs in 2022. In their 2nd EBA held in September, they launched 4 applications into production through a migration party. They also conducted a FinOps Party at the same time, where they deployed cloud usage and spend dashboards to gain cost and usage visibility, and establish accountability. They achieved a sizeable cost savings implementing optimization tasks and proudly shared their success on Linkedin. One of their builders even published an article on his learnings and insights on cost optimization strategies.
Route Mobile, a leading Indian communications platform service provider offering Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions, deployed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that would have otherwise taken 3 months to build & deploy, in less than 12 hours. They did this via an EBA modernization party executed in August 2022. They achieved 66% potential savings on infrastructure cost and a 60% performance improvement in reduced latency. CEO, Rajdip Gupta celebrated the effort in driving growth at scale through an EBA Party on Linkedin.
AWS helps enterprises address their challenges by leveraging EBAs for specific cloud challenges. Customers and partners develop new ways of working and collaboration to solve problems and unblock migration issues. The faster enterprises unblock their path to the cloud, the more likely they maximize the value of the cloud.
How to arrange for an EBA
If you want to know more about EBAs and how you can leverage this approach, contact your AWS Account Manager (AM) or Customer Solutions Manager (CSM). Learn more about impact of EBAs from Chief Architect of SAP Concur talking about transformation with EBA with his teams. Other EBA-related resources you can check out are : Using Experience-Based Acceleration to achieve your Transformation and Get to Know EBA.