- Cloud services are fueling how the modern enterprise works.
- As new cloud services become available, and as adoption increases, the need for a strategy to help manage it all is only going to grow.
- If your enterprise is finding it difficult to navigate cloud adoption and sprawl, keep reading.
- The following five steps will help you first determine your goals, and then build a strategy to capitalize on them.
1. Gather input and define your need
A good place to begin is by gathering input from leaders across your entire organization. By exploring cloud needs beyond IT, you’ll have a greater understanding of how your cloud technology will be used and how to address the greatest number of demands, so you can get the greatest value from your investment. Benefits like cost reduction, business agility, and better data-driven decision-making benefit the whole organization—not just the IT department. It therefore stands to reason that the organization as a whole should be involved in the decision-making process.
This stage is also a good time to define the scope of what you need your cloud to do. Do you want to run development and testing in the cloud to leverage its flexibility and low cost? Would you move critical workloads to the cloud to scale quickly and provide reliable and high-performance service globally? How will you streamline delivery, management, and secure of your data? Among the many variables to consider, data sensitivity, data governance, and other compliance requirements should be considered.
2. Align IT strategy with business goals
Different business goals require unique IT solutions. If your business goals are around retaining customers, you may need different IT functions than if you’re growing your customer base. Here are a few examples of how your cloud strategy change across business goals:
Retaining customers: An always-on, scalable cloud solution will give you the ability to increase or decrease resources as needed from the cloud. This on-demand access gives you the agility to expand during peak hours or seasons, and then scale back during slower periods—saving you money.
Retaining employees: You’ll want a cloud with strong mobility capabilities and an integrated workspace so individuals can add or delete apps, have continuous remote access, and work efficiently wherever need be.
Boosting your workforce shortor long-term: For companies who need to hire quickly, cloud becomes a cost- and time-saving tool. Whether you’re looking for full-time, contract, or seasonal workers, streamlining cloud access means you can quickly and efficiently onboard new users from almost anywhere.
Saving time and money: Cloud lets you minimizing your reliance on physical hardware, which saves time and money. This on-demand access means you can dramatically improve the time it takes to go to market because you can launch, or turn systems on and off, almost immediately — instead of the months or years it takes to install costly hardware.
Targeting your efforts: With the use of big data, machine learning, and predictive analytics, cloud services offer a host of insights that let you focus your resources on the projects that pack the best ROI.
Expanding into new markets: Cloud environments makes for a faster, and more cost-effective way to move into new markets with substantial savings on datacenter, hardware, and software overhead, while simplifying the porting of application and data.
Ensuring always-on workspace: Part of creating a full-proof strategy is planning for a workaround in the case of downtime. While rare, situations arise, like unplanned outages or the inability to access data if a cloud goes down. In those cases, you’ll want to have the ability to quickly divert traffic or redirect access. Having a fast fail-over solution for critical applications will minimize disruption to the business due to unplanned network outages.
3. Create a strategy for deployment
Once you’ve obtained buy-in and assessed your scope, it’s time to conduct a gap assessment against your existing infrastructure: where you are now and what will you need your cloud infrastructure to be? It’s also key to look at leverage existing IT investments. What is currently cloud-ready and what improvements do you need to make to ensure your legacy architecture will be cloud-ready?
Keep in mind that cloud is like any other business tool — as you progress with your implementation, new issues will arise that can force you to re-evaluate your initial strategy. Rather than having to scrap progress you’ve made, having a solution with the flexibility to easily make adjustments will allow you to efficiently course correct as you move forward.
4. Create a plan for operations and adoption
You’ll want to start planning for how your cloud strategy will be rolled out and adopted by the people who will use it every day. Will they need training and or other information? What systems will it be replacing? Who will manage deployments and adoption? Who will be responsible for ensuring access to the apps and data your teams depend on?
Making sure your executive team is clear on your cloud framework, and how the organization should be using it, will help increase usage. Once you’ve outlined your framework, you’ll be ready to develop timelines and milestones, and you’ll be better able to communicate expected outcomes. It will also help remove a lot of the organizational ambiguity that often comes new systems, giving your teams the ability to move into adoption with confidence.