The Cloud Strategy Formula: A Complete Guide
Organisations today can often become overwhelmed by the complexity, challenges, opportunities, customisation options, and roadmaps of digitally transforming their IT architecture. I mean, even reading that alone can be overwhelming, and to some completely foreign. However, with a few Google searches you can find all the information you need. So, understanding the task at hand can essentially be easy – but mastering it is a different story.
Today the cloud has become an integral part of not only an organisations IT strategy but the overall strategy. Why? Due to the ever-changing technological developments, digital transformations and needs of the new-tech-generation. Enterprises and organisations are slowly making the transition from on-premises data centres to the cloud. It’s no longer just about an organisation’s goals – it’s about their employees, clients, customers, patients, and their needs and wants too.
To meet these needs and adapt to these changes, you’ll therefore need to implement a practical path and strategy. Starting with a cloud strategy.
What is a Cloud Strategy?
On initial thought, you may think that a cloud strategy is a plan designed to define and set out how you will migrate to the cloud. Now whilst that is partly true, it’s not completely true. You see, a cloud strategy is more than just the “how”. It’s different from cloud implementation. It’s the what and the why too.
So, what is a cloud strategy exactly then? Think of a cloud strategy like an identification process, that prepares you for a fully optimised, innovative, and agile future.
A cloud strategy captures information about your organisation collectively. It looks at your current IT infrastructure, applications, physical assets, and facilities – identifying current technical estate and dependencies. As well as identifying the organisations values, objectives, and goals. From the information gathered, a cloud strategy will then establish the future-state – looking at the feasibility, risks, benefits, and dependencies – which determines the appropriate solutions.
Finally, a roadmap will be created. Representing the recommended hosting options and plans, based off your organisations current infrastructure, values and goals. A truly innovative cloud strategy provides insight and education, conducts research and analysis, and establishes a roadmap for not just any future – your future.
Why create a Cloud Strategy?
Along with any transformative change, the first initial stage is to understand. Understand the what, the why, the how, the what (again) and the when. The implementation of a cloud strategy will not only provide you with a strategic guide, but education and insight of the true transformational value of this modern technological move. A cloud strategy will provide your organisation with a clear foundation, enabling you to accelerate and achieve organisational goals.
In some cases, it’s more than just setting foundation. It’s educating all to understand the importance of making the move to cloud. Namely your board of directors, key stakeholders, and all team members involved. Valuable insight can be obtained from the vast analyses and assessments conducted throughout the cloud strategy process. Insight such as why making the move to cloud will be worthwhile. As well as how the cloud can provide your organisation with innovation, agility and most importantly, speed.
The real reason(s) for creating a cloud strategy will be completely dependent on your purpose-for.
For example, a cloud strategy can help with:
- Presenting reasons for investment
- Gaining insight into:
- The option(s) available that will best suit your organisation
- The value and opportunities the cloud can offer
- Challenges, and risks
- Flexibility (especially with modern-day remote work)
- Anticipating benefits and downfalls
- Providing education to all, of the cloud
Not having a cloud strategy in place can present many problems – problems in which you would not be prepared for. Preparing for your move with a strategy can help avoid potential issues and risks, enable smart and informed decision making.
The purpose of a Cloud Strategy
The purpose of a cloud strategy is to establish a roadmap – beginning to end. More specifically, it’s aim is to provide you with insight into your overall current state. Now, for some those answers could leave you hitting that [x] button and heading over to Google. So, let’s take a different approach. If you were to ask, “but what is the ultimate purpose of a Cloud Strategy? If you had to describe it in one word?” our answer would be: Discover.
The purpose is to discover everything.
It’s dissecting and analysing the organisations current state. The businesses functions, processes, and applications. The goals, objectives, and values – and whether you are on track to achieve, being held back or if these goals are presently (and realistically) unattainable.
Want some specific examples? A cloud strategy can:
- Identify key benefits of cloud service, specific to your organisation
- Help determine which services should be built, maintained, and managed internally
- Help determine which services would be built and managed via your CSP
Is there real strategic value to a Cloud Strategy?
The short answer: yes.
Many organisations today have adopted the modern-day cloud-first approach. However, many also never established an effective cloud strategy, which clearly states the “what”, “why”, “how”, “what” (again) and “when” of the cloud implementation, migration, and management.
Essentially, a cloud strategy – your cloud strategy – is an indispensable asset. It looks at everything you currently have, value, and require and establishes a plan, guide, and roadmap to your future-state – ensuring no conflicts, errors, or failures. Without a cloud strategy, your organisation lacks vision, understanding and the ability to make informed decisions with any challenges that may or could arise. Consequently, presenting many issues i.e., wasted time, money, and resources; further reducing productivity.
Your Cloud Strategy Formula
There are many stages to be covered when creating a cloud strategy. However, whether you decide to embark on this transformational journey yourself or bring in a team of cloud strategists to do this for you the same applies.
Typically, you can break the stages down into 5-phases’:
- Discovery: Identification and Analysis
- Current State
- Future State
- Road Map
- Implementation and Management
The first two stages, Discovery: Identification and Analysis and Current State, work hand in hand and focuses on understanding.
You may know that migrating your products, services, business functions, processes and more would be beneficial to your organisation. But truly understanding why you wish to move, and how doing so will benefit your organisation will help create an efficient and effective strategy to do so.
Start with answering some simply, but invaluable questions:
- Why does the organisation wish to move to the cloud?
- What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
- What are the organisations goals, values, and requirements?
- Are they currently being met?
- No – what needs to be done to meet them?
- How can the cloud help achieve the organisations requirements, objectives, and goals?
- Are they currently being met?
- What is your current infrastructure like?
- What do you wish to keep on-premises (if anything)?
- What are you happy to migrate to the cloud?
- What dependencies do you have?
- How much is your organisation currently paying for current assets and services
- How do you wish to migrate to the cloud?
- What method(s) are you aware of?
- What methods have you considered?
Within this stage, consider conducting interviews with all key stakeholders to gather a detailed understanding of the organisations current IT/IS estate, asset inventory, architecture diagram and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Ultimately, the Discovery and Current State stages helps provide true, accurate and valuable insight into the organisational infrastructure, architecture, current costs. Better allowing you to plan for your Future State, exploit valuable opportunities and benefits and save money too.
The third stage, Future State, focuses on analysing and understanding the information gained from the stages prior. Based off the information gathered, you will look for opportunities to optimise. Furthermore, you will look at the risks, the benefits, feasibilities, dependencies and determine the appropriate route and opportunities for the Future State.
Specifically, within this stage you will conduct:
A cloud platform comparison
- Are you aware of the cloud vendor options available to you?
- Which cloud service providor (CSP) and model best meets your requirements?
An application assessment
- Are your current applications suitable for PaaS, IaaS or SaaS?
- What applications are you happy to remove and replace – if any?
A future look into your TCO
- Conduct research into current vs. future state and the costs that will need to be made, but also consider the bigger picture – it may cost more initially, but save and improve ROI in future.
A future look into your architecture
- Create a conceptual architecture diagram – assists teams to better understand the recommended future and provides a preview of the proposed future.
The fourth stage, the Roadmap, considers all stages prior and establishes a high-level transformation and migration plan. The roadmap will represent the hosting option(s) and plans for each service, group or services – all that will meet your organisations needs and requirements.
Within your roadmap, you should have:
- Your assessments, data and findings
- A blueprint of some kind
- This will provide visual representation of the complex processes, with lofical steps to achieve planned outcomes
- Costs and TCO
- Presenting the return of investment (ROI) of the proposed digital transformation
The final stage, Implementation and Management – for some, this stage could also be referred to as an ‘Exit Strategy’ – brings everything together. More specifically, this stage focuses on the ‘How’ and the physical doing.
Moving an organisations services, resources and data is an extremely complex move and requires extensive planning. In fact, it is extremely rare. But for some organisations still utilising legacy infrastructures, it’s a real necessity. There are many things to consider, but ultimately, this stage focuses on being prepared for the implementation and ensuring there is a plan for every aspect of the move – from days, to timings ensuring that normal day-to-day organisation running(s) are not interfered, that productivity is not interrupted and data governance, legislations and regulations are intact.
So, who needs an ‘Exit Strategy’? Organisations that are planning to move away from the public cloud – or even organisations who may consider opt for a public cloud CSP, but change their mind in the future – require an exit strategy.
In fact, several regulators (based within the EU and comes financial services) mandate them. And it’s all to do with contracts.
Within this stage, focus your Exit Strategy on answering the what’s and the why’s, but ensure that the how’s are in extensive detail, focusing on workload-specific reasonings.
Cloud Strategy – How to start your journey to the Cloud – Shaping Cloud
Cloud infrastructure vs data centre – which is right for your business? – (shapingcloud.com)
Migrating to the Cloud – 5 of the most common mistakes made (shapingcloud.com)
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