How to Develop a Cloud Strategy
Gartner predicts that 70% of companies will have a formal cloud strategy by 2022.
Businesses are embracing cloud technologies for better performance and agility. Without a well-defined strategy, you may face challenges in cloud adoption.
Cloud strategy aligns the business goals across teams. It helps in a successful digital transformation. You get a clear roadmap on how to optimize resources & cloud usage.
To build a cloud strategy, you require planning and analysis. The strategy document should be concise & regularly updated.
It should identify the benefits of cloud services for your business. You also get to assess risks, costs, and business outcomes.
This article guides you on how to build an effective cloud strategy for your company.
Overview of Cloud Strategy
A cloud strategy defines the role of cloud computing in a company. It allows a systematic approach to the cloud. You can plan on how to use cloud services efficiently.
A suitable cloud strategy combines business goals and IT models. Different teams have to coordinate together for the cloud initiative.
Cloud strategy should not be mistaken for a cloud implementation plan. It is not an IT-only strategy that migrates everything to the cloud.
It works as the decision framework of cloud adoption. As you progress, the strategy will evolve.
Some of the components of the strategy include:
- Setting your unique business goals
- Defining roles & responsibilities
- Creating a roadmap
- Communicating with stakeholders
How to Develop a Successful Cloud Strategy
1. Establish a Vision for Cloud Strategy
Establish the purpose of cloud adoption early in the process.
It starts by analyzing your current business status. You can use brainstorming sessions and SWOT analysis. You can also include cloud assessments.
Get insights into your current IT architecture, applications & governance. You can map out the services that are to be built internally. The other services are then moved to the cloud provider.
To build a clear vision, consider these aspects:
- Reasons for moving to the cloud
- Business outcomes that the company seeks
- IT readiness in adopting new technologies
- Learning metrics that show progress & gaps
The stakeholders & teams must have a shared vision of the cloud strategy.
2. Understand Cloud Models & Services
The strategy document must define the cloud terms clearly. Non-IT teams & business leaders should agree on the definitions.
Add an appendix section that follows official cloud-related terms. Keep the terms consistent in the document to avoid any confusion.
Introduce cloud deployment models & services to the team. State which types of cloud computing will work best for your business.
Here are some types cloud computing models & services:
Cloud computing models:
- Public cloud
The most common type of cloud computing deployment model. The cloud resources are owned & managed by the cloud provider. The storage, hardware & network devices are shared with other companies.
Examples include Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure.
- Private cloud
The cloud resources are used exclusively by one company. The hardware & software are maintained on a private network.
It offers more security & control over the cloud infrastructure.
- Hybrid cloud
The hybrid cloud is a mix of public & private cloud models.
Critical applications & confidential data are stored on the private cloud. It will offer more data security. The general data is stored on the public cloud.
Cloud computing services:
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offers server, storage, and networking services on demand. You don’t have to maintain on-premise data centers.
Platform as a service (PaaS) offers hardware, software & infrastructure. You can develop, run and manage applications easily. It offers servers, networking, OS, database, and so on.
Software as a service (SaaS) provides licensing software hosting by the provider. You can use cloud-based applications over the internet.
All the servers, middleware & software are stored on the provider’s data center.
3. Business Objectives & Cloud Service Strategy
Cloud services should help achieve your unique business goals.
Analyze which applications should be optimized using the cloud. For example, applications that require high security but low latency can stay on-premise. In contrast, applications with heavy workloads are moved to the cloud.
Check which business goals your company needs:
- Faster product release in the market
- Competitive edge
- Improving operations
- Improving IT security
- Business survival
Cloud computing allows high availability and global scaling. You get easy access to servers. However, to leverage the power of the cloud, it must align with your business needs.
Check your consumer demands, industry, & location factors. Consider the legal regulations of your target country.
The strategy must include these factors. It will help make critical decisions like choosing a cloud provider.
4. Cloud Strategy Team Collaboration
Companies make the mistake of not using cross-functional teams. Expertise from HR, finance, and legal is helpful for the strategy.
Teams should see how cloud services benefit their specific departments.
The cloud migration team will require a diverse skill set. Some will only focus on migration. Other teams will focus on innovation & costs.
You will also need high-level infrastructure specialists.
The technical expert team comes with:
- Application developers
- DevOps engineers
- Data scientists
- Cloud architects
Cloud adoption may affect business processes & consumer interactions. That’s why collaborative efforts are required.
5. Investment Strategy
Around 82% of survey respondents said that cloud spendings are one of the main challenges in enterprise cloud computing. With an increase in cloud budgets, cloud waste is also expanding.
You must work with the IT & finance leaders to devise the investment strategy.
Identify which pricing models will work best for cloud adoption. For example, if you choose the service IaaS, the pricing models are mainly pay-as-you-go. SaaS is usually based on subscriptions.
Ensure that there is cost transparency. Create forecasts for any sudden cost spikes. Assess the risks of cloud costs like paying for unused resources or complex billing.
6. Risk Assessment
The strategy document should identify potential risks and ways to reduce them. Major cloud providers do secure the services. However, it is the company’s responsibility to secure its data & applications.
Some of the risk factors come with:
- Security & compliance
- Data integration
- IT roles for security
However, the strategy document should not stop cloud initiatives due to security worries. Gartner’s VP Jay Heiser noted that “Excessive security fears can result in a lost opportunity.”
Add a risk management section in the document. You can also add tangible actions that reduce risk exposure.
7. Exit Strategy
An exit strategy defines how to move away from the cloud. It ensures that cloud services are replaced without damaging business operations.
There can be many reasons for cloud exit like:
- Move to a new cloud provider
- Avoid vendor lock-in
- Bringing workloads back on-premise
The exit strategy will outline data ownership, backups, and so on.
Getting out of the cloud services is a complex task. The strategy should provide exit methods that are specific to your applications.
8. Implementation Plan
The implementation plan creates a roadmap for cloud migration. The strategy should offer a step-by-step process of cloud migration. You can evaluate dependencies, costs and prioritize tasks.
The framework focuses on assigning workloads & resources. It also defines schedules, milestones & sequences of the migration process. The IT team can add best practices and customize the new tools.
As it is a long-term activity, you must keep track of the progress. Documenting the process will help assess roadblocks and find opportunities.
With the increase in cloud adoption, many companies are opting for a cloud-first approach. However, they do not have a framework that communicates the “what” and “how's” of cloud adoption.
Creating a cloud strategy is essential when moving to the cloud. It helps to use standard practices and optimize cloud costs.
You also reduce potential risks & combine business goals with cloud services.
The non-IT teams should also be ready for the cloud. Cloud strategy brings a general vision to the company. It sets a game-plan to use the cloud services effectively. You can use the tips mentioned in this article to develop your cloud strategy.
To gain more insights into cloud computing, check out the CloudPanel blog.