Only a future-ready cloud strategy can avoid future shock

The public cloud services market is expected to double from $70 billion in 2015 to more than $140 billion in 2019. The reason — more and more enterprises (even small and medium-sized businesses) are recognizing the massive cost savings, application flexibility, and security advantages of cloud systems, in comparison to on-premises systems.

Cloud Strategy

Application directors are tasked with the responsibility of chalking out future-ready cloud strategies for their enterprises, keeping in mind tight constraints around budgets. This guide attempts to lay down the ground rules that can help IT leaders envision and implement a future-ready cloud strategy.

Outline clear business goals before onboarding vendors

Outline your key business-IT goals before you begin your cloud transformation meetings with vendors. Agility of IT in terms of mobility and application access is a major motivator for enterprises. Scalability for managing seasonal fluctuations in user traffic and resource requirement is another guiding factor.

Cloud service vendors and partners are often guilty of attributing all cloud benefits to all cloud solutions, which is not the case. IT leaders would do well to develop metrics and use them in all vendor discussions, to be able to gather quantifiable claims instead of ambiguous promises of a better system.

Evaluate your business-driven IT needs of datacenter consolidation, automated data backup and recovery requirements, and viability of different models of reducing costs by moving to cloud. Whether you’re virtualizing infrastructure, moving business-critical apps to cloud, or moving your data to the cloud, these evaluations help you understand the current state of IT, and the right cloud service partners who can tune their services to help you achieve your critical business and IT goals.

Map business functions with cloud benefits

Another key analysis that can strengthen the future readiness of your enterprises’ cloud strategy is to understand the business services and functions that are most compatible with the cloud. Then, look to identify your business functions that can bring in immediate benefits via moving existing applications to the cloud. In fact, this tight mapping of cloud services to business functions keeps costs in check and reduces payback periods, handing CIOs vital cards to get more IT budget allocations to drive the next phases of cloud transformation.

Cloud Strategy

Also, this analysis helps your IT decision makers understand the parts of the business that will need significant modifications to be made cloud ready. This will drive cost savings and agility.

Public, private, and hybrid cloud – the critical choice

As soon as you take your cloud strategy meetings into the next gear, you’ll be faced with choices among public, private, and hybrid cloud options. How to make future-ready choices? These points will help.

Public cloud solutions from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure prove ideal for SMBs and enterprises making their first forays into the cloud. These public cloud services enable enterprises to realize highly customized hybrid cloud ecosystems where they can retain critical on-premises applications on private clouds.

Private cloud solutions are more appealing for enterprises with huge concerns around data security and compliance such as PCI DSS and HIPAA. The cost of ownership of private cloud solutions is high, although it hands over complete control to the enterprise, which might be necessary depending upon the type of business you have.

A hybrid cloud strategy generally presents the best of both worlds to enterprises looking for a sustainable cloud strategy. This strategy also hands you the flexibility of leveraging third-party services to manage security for your cloud applications along with the option to move more applications to the public cloud in the subsequent phases.

Strengthening cloud adoption with automation

Your choice of cloud service options will be followed with important decisions regarding the technologies you onboard to derive the maximum value. In a public or hybrid cloud setting, you will need right infrastructure and peripheral services to make things work. There will also be security and compliance issues that will always demand your attention.

During migration and after, there will be several continuous menial tasks such as scripting, testing, and manual labors in the system. There are automation tools that can eliminate the manual effort from all these tasks. This is where you will need to push for automated migration instead of manual migration.

Manual migrations are error prone and can leave several gaps in your cloud implementations and adoptions. Automated migrations are quick, error free, and can even map security rules as they exist today to the cloud version of applications.

We are in the middle of a massive wave of hybrid cloud models adoption. This means that IT teams are burdened with responsibilities of understanding the nuances and differences among different cloud types and IT needs.

Don’t forget employee buy-in

All employees in your company must buy-in to whatever cloud strategy you choose, and this often becomes your biggest challenge. Everyone, right from finance to end users, is affected. This again connects to the first suggestion we placed, that is, to understand business goals before embarking on the flight to the cloud.

Considering the mammoth nature of the IT budget, work hours, and effort that is invested in adopting a cloud solution for an enterprise, employee buy-in is a must. The best way to ensure this is to have teams with representation from all employee groups sign off on clear business goals. And keep on inviting their feedback after the cloud strategy is implemented. Resentment from employees after the first phrase of your cloud implementations will only weaken the foundation of the entire transformation project, so watch out.

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