It’s not uncommon for modern enterprises to have upwards of five or six different types of cloud in use. The motivation behind this is to improve performance and reliability wherever possible. A recent survey found that 33% of UK IT leaders stated their immediate spending priority was to invest in technologies to aid the migration of enterprise workloads to the cloud. These investments show increasing recognition amongst UK companies of the importance of cloud adoption to boost business performance. Companies are eager to explore any avenue that helps them achieve greater business agility.
A detailed and effective cloud strategy can empower organisations to make effective business decisions on a consistent basis. While it can add increased complexity to IT estates, charting a direct course through migration and transition can help businesses reap the many benefits that the cloud offers.
But what are the key elements of an effective cloud strategy that companies must take into consideration? While it is easy to get carried away with the overhyped assertions that “everyone is moving to the cloud”, how do companies discover the strategy that best works for them to increase its business agility?
Below are what we believe are four of the most crucial elements to consider when implementing a successful cloud strategy:
- Know where you want to get to
As with any business decision, leaders must know what the end goal is. The responsibility to establish a clear cloud strategy and identify the outcomes they hope the chosen cloud will deliver falls on business leaders.
For example, organisations must decide whether their company needs automated deployment with the ability to scale on-demand, and if they need a more agile development environment to accelerate new application testing. Business leaders must also anticipate what the distribution of applications should be and how to best support end-users too.
Is it a cost decision? Does the organisation need to shift from a capex to an opex business model? Organisations require a clear vision for future direction, and all strategic decisions must be based on this. So, when deciding on outsourced cloud solutions, business leaders must select a vendor whose processes, procedures, and abilities best fit their objectives.
- Understand your IT estate
IT teams need to know their entire asset inventory. Mature IT estates may include a variety of platforms such as colocation, clouds, and mainframe, and a careful analysis of each application is required if performance and functionality are to be maintained.
When it comes to migration, in some instances it will be straightforward. In other cases, the application can be refactored to allow for the new environment. Businesses must evaluate whether the best option is to keep the application “as is” and either continue to run it internally or look for a hosting vendor that can support it in its current state along with cloud offerings for a seamless, integrated solution.
- Consider the pros and cons of different cloud types
We’ve moved on from discussing the pros and cons of cloud computing and why an organisation should move to the cloud – we’re already there. As outlined, most enterprises have several clouds, but that doesn’t mean they know how to best leverage each one individually. As not all clouds are the same, companies have to choose between private, public, and hybrid options. In defining a cloud strategy, it is critical to understand the differences in operation, management, scale, security, and governance for each of these routes.
Business goals should drive cloud choice, not the other way around. For example, a hybrid cloud solution that helps match the IT estate requirements against different end-states that could be the shortest path to a best-fit solution for plenty of businesses. However, others might want to prioritise a scale out for applications, in which case a public cloud would be the best fit. The specific cloud solution must be tailored to fit the specific needs of a company.
- Consider availability and resilience
It may seem obvious, but the pandemic has highlighted that availability and resiliency are key for every business. Reliability encompasses the ability of a workload to perform its intended function correctly and consistently. This includes the ability to operate and test the workload through its total lifecycle and during unpredictable events. Underpinning reliability are the principles of availability and resiliency.
One strategy might include using the cloud for data vaulting, replication, and disaster recovery. In such cases, businesses must take a hard look at their recovery cloud vendor for details such as which applications are business-critical, demanding the high availability that comes from an active environment, and therefore not appropriate for cloud-based recovery. They must also consider which secondary applications could benefit from a failover or recovery approach versus a high availability solution.
Establishing a full picture
Companies will find themselves unable to implement a solid cloud strategy without a detailed understanding of what the business is trying to achieve with the implementation. As a result, business leaders and IT teams must ensure they are future proofing IT where possible and have a clear understanding of the current IT environment.
Organisations have a responsibility to look ahead and adopt tools that will keep them ahead of the competition, and this includes picking the right partners that will continue to benefit them years down the line. With the cloud consistently providing companies with a competitive advantage, companies can assure future successes by implementing a cloud strategy that boosts business agility and decision making.