6 Steps for Planning a Cloud Strategy

July 30, 2019

Contributor: Christy Pettey

How organizations can advance the use of cloud across the business.

Cloud has become the foundation that enables businesses to transform, differentiate and gain competitive advantage. Many organizations are now focused on cloud-first strategies as they turn their attention to advancing the use of cloud services across the business. Forty percent of organizations in North America alone plan to spend the majority of new or additional funding on cloud, according to a recent Gartner survey.

“ If you have not developed a cloud-first strategy yet, you are likely falling behind your competitors ”

Gartner recommends that organizations continue to mature their cloud-first strategies — where the cloud is primary, prioritized and promoted. "If you have not developed a cloud-first strategy yet, you are likely falling behind your competitors,” says Elias Khnaser, VP Analyst at Gartner. “IT organizations have moved past asking whether applications can be deployed or migrated to the public cloud. Instead, they are commonly accepting the pace and innovation of cloud providers as foundational to their business.” IT organizations should look at these six steps when building, implementing and maturing cloud strategies.

Download IT roadmap: Cloud Migration

Develop a cloud-first and multicloud strategy

A cloud-first strategy should extend beyond the purview of the IT organization. It must be understood and embraced by the whole organization. Thus, IT organizations must focus on more than just the technical steps required to implement a cloud-first strategy. They must evangelize the merits of cloud to business leaders to help them develop and extract business benefits that will yield a competitive edge and greater profitability.

“Cloud first” does not mean “cloud always.” For some organizations, the long-term goal may be to move all applications out of their data centers. For others, cloud-first may mean moving a subset of applications to the public cloud. “Regardless of the approach, it is important to prioritize investments to advance the organization’s use of cloud services,” says Khnaser.

Continuously practice workload placement analysis

Historically, assessments have been performed with a heavy focus on feature comparisons to alternative solutions because the placement of the workload, for example, in the on-premises data center was typically a foregone conclusion. However, in the era of cloud, new expanded options for placement and ownership of stack elements come into play, and established workload life cycle management models must be evolved. 

Continuous workload placement analysis involves reassessing workloads at a regular cadence, evaluating whether the current execution venue sufficiently meets the organization’s needs and if migrating to an alternative model provides higher value without adding significant risk to the organization’s operations.

Plan for cloud adoption maturity

Cloud projects are complex, and although it takes time for organizations to develop the skill sets necessary across all of the functional areas affected, they must also continuously improve processes to progress through their path to maturity. “The most successful organizations carefully plan out a multiyear effort to improve upon their cloud adoption, and do so by focusing on multiple streams of work across several phases of maturity,” says Khnaser.

Establish multicloud governance and management processes

Governance of cloud computing is challenging even with a single cloud provider involved and becomes even more challenging as organizations move toward multicloud. Cloud providers offer on-demand, self-service resources with endless capacity, making it difficult for organizations to gain visibility into, and manage, what is being consumed. As a result, organizations must govern not only consumption of cloud services by provider, but also consumption across cloud providers. Without visibility into consumption, it is impossible to govern and manage the environment.

Develop a multicloud management tooling strategy

Organizations can develop a cloud management tooling strategy by selecting and adopting the most appropriate cloud management solutions. Creating a coherent cloud management tooling strategy requires a well-defined, systematic approach to solidify requirements and to matching tools to these requirements. The aim is to minimize the number of tools needed while fulfilling all management needs.

“ Organizations should prioritize the use of the cloud platform’s native toolset ”

“The best strategy is a combination of solutions, based on the required degrees of cross-platform consistency and platform-specific functionality,” says Khnaser. “In all cases, organizations should prioritize the use of the cloud platform’s native toolset, augmenting that where needed with third-party cloud management platforms, cloud management point tools, DIY solutions and outsourcing.”

Evaluate multicloud SaaS integration requirements

By continuously evaluating requirements, organizations can present the optimal choices to those responsible for extending and integrating SaaS solutions. Organizations may get a better return from an existing SaaS offering by shifting some applications and integrations to it, rather than using a PaaS technology that might have a cost per solution. However, organizations need to continuously evaluate their requirements and compare them with the capabilities of a SaaS offering to maintain the optimal mix of SaaS-provided capabilities and PaaS technology.

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