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5 Ways To Build A Successful Cloud Strategy

Does your business plan to adopt cloud services? Cloud computing adoption has various benefits to a business and its customers. It can enable a business to scale and react to market demands faster, and streamline services – thus making its customers happier. To ensure successful cloud adoption, enterprises should have a well-calculated strategy.

A cloud strategy is a documented plan that acts as a roadmap guiding businesses in deploying cloud services. It ensures the enterprise has a clear insight into why it’s considering cloud services and the reason behind the specific models they choose. By preparing a cloud strategy, business executives will have a reference to communicate the cloud adoption plan to different teams. The roadmap also empowers users to align cloud computing to business goals, therefore, increasing productivity and minimizing costs.

So, how do you build a cloud strategy for your business? Here’s a look at the 5 steps to building a fail-proof cloud strategy.

1. Determine your business objectives and goals

At the end of this exercise, the business should be able to explain how cloud computing services will enhance its business objectives.

Start by identifying the departments whose functions you wish to make cloud-based. Look at the services they offer or the business functions involved and write all the goals you intend to attain.

For instance, your company might need to leverage cloud services to:

  • Gain a competitive edge
  • Quicken product release
  • Improve daily operations and customer service
  • Improve cyber security

It’s possible to come up with other business-related benefits and more areas where cloud adoption can help. Look into your industry trends, location factors, and consumer demands to see what other areas can benefit from cloud services.

Finally, identify the specific metrics that your organization can monitor and evaluate to determine whether it is attaining its goals.

Highlighting business goals and objectives helps determine whether cloud computing services are worth your investment. Also, looking at business goals points out what operations and aspects of your business you'll need to prioritize during the cloud deployment. All these aspects will guide you in answering whether your business is ready for cloud services deployment.

2. Put together a cloud strategy team

It’s helpful to collaborate with different teams and departments since they can highlight challenges and opportunities in their fields of operations better. They’ll easily point out the specific benefits a cloud service can bring to their departments. Your team should comprise business lawyers, human resources, and finance specialists. Divide the team into different groups and assign each an area of focus. They can look at migration, cost management, and innovation. That’s why team members with different skill sets are crucial.

A fail-proof cloud strategy will also require the input of digital engineering services experts such as app developers, cloud architects, and data scientists. During migration, the changes will affect some business processes, which might interrupt consumer interactions. A competent and inclusive team will work cohesively to minimize downtime.

3. Adopt a suitable cloud model and service

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every business looking to move its functions to the cloud. It’s helpful to identify your needs and research cloud providers to see what options they have. Consider your existing IT infrastructure, cyber security, cost, and internal Service Legal Agreements (SLAs) when assessing available cloud models and the providers. Deployment models of cloud computing include public, private, and hybrid:

  • Public - in this model, the provider owns and manages the cloud resources. Businesses will share cloud storage, hardware, and network equipment with other companies. Entrusting other businesses to manage your critical data and applications involves a higher level of risk.
  • Private - commonly referred to as “internal cloud”, this framework involves cloud resources designed for a specific company. Access to the system and services belongs to the company. This model ensures better control and security but usually limits the number of users.
  • Hybrid - combines public and private models to enable greater flexibility. Hybrid models store critical applications and sensitive data on private servers. This model guarantees improved data security, but it is expensive to implement and maintain.

You’ll also need to evaluate different cloud service models. They include IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS
Cloud computing service models are:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) - relieves businesses of the obligation to manage data on-premise by providing on-demand storage, server, and networking services.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) - provides infrastructure, hardware, and software. Your business will only need to create, run and manage its applications without acquiring servers, databases, or networking.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) - businesses don’t need to own servers, hardware, and software. SaaS enables businesses to access cloud-based applications via the internet.

Businesses should define the deployment and service model they choose clearly in their strategy document. State why the chosen model is the best option for your business.

Choosing a provider

When partnering with a provider, beware of vendor lock-ins and services you don’t need. Don’t go for long-term binding contracts since your needs might change as your firm grows. Consider multiple vendors depending on each vendor's specialization.

When picking a provider, consider their tools and resources, client support, cost, and scalability. Go for a competent provider who can customize solutions to your existing infrastructure and business needs.

4. Highlight potential risks

When building a strategy, identify the risks a move to the cloud might pose to your business. One of the main concerns will be data security. Other aspects that may prove risky will include:

  • Unavailability of services
  • Compliance issues
  • Data integration incompatibilities  
  • Increased IT demands

Instead of aborting your mission because of the fear of potential risks, add a risk management section to your strategy. Highlight tangible measures your business can take to mitigate each of these risks.

5. Include an implementation blueprint

With the insights above, what steps can your organization take to move its operations to the cloud? It’s important to highlight them in this strategy document. To come up with the implementation steps, evaluate what the process will depend on, the costs, and priority tasks.

Assign workloads and resources
Create schedules for different milestones and the sequence in which each stage of the migration process will occur. Consider the number of functions your business is deploying to the cloud when allocating time and the level of compliance.

Adopt cloud deployment best practices
Let your IT experts and the cloud services provider’s support team help highlight the best practices to observe. They can customize new tools to match existing infrastructure.

Identify gaps and
During implementation, monitor and document the process. You’ll identify gaps and modify the strategy based on the roadblocks and opportunities discovered with the current plan.

If you create a solid cloud strategy, you’ll enjoy the benefits of cloud services. Assess your business situation and prospective cloud services. Then, plan meticulously before moving IT functions to the cloud.