Being a cloud player has become crucially significant for enterprises as cloud services enable business leaders to act swiftly in response to opportunities or threats. According to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, the global cloud computing industry is estimated to increase at a CAGR of 16.3% from USD 445.3 billion in 2021 to USD 947.3 billion by 2026. Businesses that leverage cloud computing effectively will be able to gain a competitive advantage, and their survival may even depend on it.
In the new era of the cloud, businesses migrate to the cloud for a variety of reasons. Some believe that switching to the cloud entails gaining access to the greatest enterprise-level technology without having to pay for the overhead associated with handling, maintaining, and managing the underlying infrastructure. Others (such as startups) place a high priority on their capacity to scale quickly and react to market demands. And some are just following the herd. Regardless of the reasons, every business that decides to migrate to the cloud needs a cloud strategy to function effectively and financially in this setting.
Embarking on a cloud journey requires businesses to navigate pitfalls and opportunities that are unique to their business, and no two cloud journeys are alike. It is important for businesses to map their business’ needs to their IT capabilities and build a clear cloud strategy to better understand which departments would benefit the most from the agility of cloud computing. In this blog, we’ll look into what is a cloud strategy and the steps for building a cloud strategy.
Why do you need a cloud strategy?
While many businesses have employed a “Cloud-First” approach, not all of them have a clear strategy that explains the “why,” “how,” or even the “what” of cloud adoption. While the cloud-first approach provides them with a boost at first, but over time it lacks sustainability and retention qualities. This is due to the fact that businesses often confuse or make the mistake of equating the shifting IT systems to the cloud with the transformative approach required to get the full benefits of the cloud. Cloud adoption is more popular than ever, and it’s important to have a cloud strategy that guides your organization through the transition to the cloud, balancing the expected advantages with safety nets to lower risk exposure.
Without a cloud strategy, businesses and individual users will just have to embrace productivity-boosting solutions as and when they become available. Many businesses have already encountered this as “Shadow IT.” Without a cloud strategy, businesses will lack direction when adopting cloud services, which results in technology silos, non-standard solution implementations, non-optimized costs, and increased risk from improperly configured environments. In this blog, we will walk you through the essential steps necessary to create an effective cloud strategy.
What is a cloud strategy?
A cloud strategy is an action plan that an organization follows to successfully host its IT infrastructure in a cloud environment. The cloud strategy outlines the cloud’s architecture, development plans, and governance model to ensure effective performance of its infrastructure, workloads, and applications. The cloud strategy will define the role of the cloud within your organization and should be updated and shared throughout your organization.
Depending on where your business is at and why you’re moving to the cloud, your strategy will change. For instance, if you’re a new company, one of your goals can be to move quickly and expand your clientele. Different expectations may exist for a more established business.
Without a cloud strategy, a company may try to accommodate a plethora of options that frequently compete with one another and fail to drive the company toward attaining its main corporate goals. In the absence of a cloud strategy, a company lacks measurable business goals and the right focus for the most important problems that need to be resolved.
Often, organizations have difficulty defining their cloud strategy or integrating it with their overall business strategy. As a result, they struggle to derive meaningful commercial value from transitioning to the cloud. In the following sections, you will find a step-by-step guide to developing a cloud strategy.
How to develop and plan a cloud strategy?
Many businesses have failed to appreciate the true financial advantage, innovation potential, and ecosystem value cloud platforms give because they implemented one-off or short-sighted cloud solutions, following the trend of the IT sector. In the emerging business environment, companies can only become purpose-driven, resilient, and adaptable through employing strategic, enterprise-level decisions related to cloud computing.
David Linthicum, author of Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide, 2009 and Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting, says:
“If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you are right. Cloud computing is based on the time-sharing model we leveraged years ago before we could afford our own computers. The idea is to share computing power among many companies and people, thereby reducing the cost of that computing power for those who leverage it. The value of time-sharing and the core value of cloud computing is pretty much the same, only the resources these days are much better and more cost-effective.”
Cloud services should assist you in achieving your unique business objectives. Identifying your business objectives is the first and most important step in developing a cloud strategy. Once the business’s goals are established, it can use those goals to create realistic targets and determine its capabilities. Furthermore, it can also assist in lining up future cloud plans by defining the goals and benchmarks that a company or enterprise must achieve.
Build your business justification – Businesses need to outline their main objectives and carry out a deeper analysis and an understanding of their organization practices and create a business case to justify their investment for cloud adoption.
Align cloud strategy with business strategy – The main goal of an effective cloud strategy is to align with a company’s business strategy. This means examining the business model and strategy of the company to determine how it fits into a digital and/or industry ecosystem.
Capabilities mapped with business objectives – Business capabilities define an organization’s identity and personality by articulating its areas of expertise. This includes both tangible assets like applications, technical architecture, hardware, and operating systems; and intangible assets such as skills and information, thought leadership, and technological support. Develop the abilities required to get the company, culture, workforce, and environment ready for upcoming changes.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are recommended practices to follow. Before embarking on a big, enterprise-wide technology transformation, it is vital to understand your company’s current state with regard to cloud service adoption and how such a change is expected to influence the organization and its finances.
The goal of analyzing the current state is to gain a better understanding of the business IT architecture by defining its technical maturity as well as any variables that need to be changed or rebuilt along the way to a successful cloud implementation. The assessment of the current state includes IT enterprise architecture, digital infrastructure, applications, data governance policies, metrics, and more. While an internal survey can be utilized to gather some information, a more effective study can be performed using a “Shadow IT Discovery” tool.
Assess the Company’s Readiness – The introduction of new technology necessitates an evaluation to see if your business meets the requirements or not. A continuity and performance strategy, security compliance, and trustworthy internal IT services all need to be checked as part of the examination of each company’s security and availability in general.
The desired state will be built upon the output of your assessment of the current state. Your stated objectives and end state might be reached via a phased approach (if there ever is an end state). The likelihood is that your ability to transition to the desired state will be constrained by your current state.
Create a roadmap for cloud adoption – The right roadmap outlines the plan for moving from the current state to the potential desired state. It covers the appropriate cloud technology delivery options for your organization—public, private, multi-cloud, or hybrid—as well as which providers to consider. Businesses need to carry out adoption planning, migration suitability assessments, and application strategies by utilizing proprietary technologies.
Businesses must create a vision for cloud-enabled enterprise architecture. This addresses both the business and technological aspects of cloud deployment. The Desired state assessment must cover key areas such as architectural blueprint for future Cloud Technology Platform, Application Strategy, Network provisioning for each Cloud-centric environment, Shared Service dependencies, Security Posture, ITSM (IT service management) & Service Desk integration, Orchestration and Automation. Furthermore, businesses need to create a comprehensive implementation plan that tackles governance and security concerns. And include risk management in everything they do.
- Public – offers both a standard and on-demand service. Available to all types of users but poses a significant risk if mismanaged
- Private – Also known as “internal cloud,” this type of cloud is used solely by one firm. Just one corporate entity is allowed access to the system and services. Hardware and software are kept up to date via a private network. It provides greater security and control over cloud infrastructure
- Hybrid – A hybrid model that combines the private and public cloud models to allow greater flexibility in workloads at the local level. It also necessitates a significant expenditure in terms of hardware upkeep
- Community – Accessed by a specified group that has comparable concerns about computing cloud security, rationale, and compliance. Its collaborative structure throws the model’s accountability and control mechanisms into question.
Selecting the right cloud service provider (CSP) – It is important to choose the right CSP. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are three of the most powerful CSPs. However, there are many others, like IBM, Oracle Cloud, Ali Baba, and Fujitsu. Regardless of how large and reputable these providers are due diligence must still be performed to guarantee that what they offer matches the customer’s intended objectives.
Gap analysis entails detecting gaps and dependencies in proposed cloud solutions to ensure that there are no impediments to implementation plans. An in-depth assessment of the cloud investment and architectural planning needs to be carried out to evaluate and streamline the planned cloud strategy with all the relevant deliverables. Risk assessment needs to be carried out to determine and validate potential issues that may likely occur and prioritize them in accordance with their likelihood of occurrence to create a risk mitigation strategy/action plan.
An exit strategy outlines how to leave the cloud and makes sure that moving away from the cloud won’t impair business operations. There could be various reasons to leave the cloud, including switching to a different provider, avoiding vendor lock-in, complying with regulations, and moving workloads back on on-premise. An exit strategy must also outline data ownership, backup, and portability. The exit strategy enables readiness and planning in the event that a cloud decision needs to be rolled back or amended.
The implementation plan creates a roadmap for the transition to the cloud. The implementation plan must offer a step-by-step process for the transition to the cloud. A proper cloud implementation necessitates the establishment of a management framework capable of properly organizing and distributing cloud capabilities in order to deploy an integrated cloud strategy. Businesses must keep track and document progress as it will help them assess roadblocks and find opportunities.
Before you dive into cloud adoption, it is critical to understand what the drivers are for your firm to transition to the cloud and what solutions these drivers require. Outlining your present solutions, establishing your intended outcome, and developing efforts based on the gap will give you a solid and sound cloud strategy.
Developing and implementing a cloud strategy is a time-consuming process that requires patience, collaboration, research, and documentation. And this process is crucial to the long-term effectiveness of employing cloud services to assist a company’s digital transformation.
Organizational transformation necessitates collaboration between IT teams, business teams, and application development teams. The sooner stakeholder teams can be involved in the strategy’s development, the more likely it will fulfil their needs, earn their support, and foster the kind of cooperation needed for organizational success. Regardless of how technology advances, a strategy should always address the fundamental questions of what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, and how we will know if we are successful.