6 Steps for Planning a Cloud Strategy

March 21, 2022

Contributor: Christy Pettey

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

In short:

  • Design a cloud strategy that optimizes for business outcomes, including speed, resilience and agility.
  • Embrace distributed cloud to enable hybrid cloud architectures.
  • Grow public cloud skills internally and consider creative recruiting strategies to bridge the talent gap.

Today, nearly every IT organization uses public cloud, because businesses need the flexibility and scalability of cloud services to respond to rapidly shifting and unpredictable economic conditions. Rarely is that public cloud use optimized to deliver business outcomes, however. 

“Cloud adoption accelerated rapidly during the pandemic, and will accelerate still further in the years to come,” says Paul Delory, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “Cloud services let smart business leaders respond quickly to opportunities — or threats. Businesses that successfully exploit cloud computing will have a competitive advantage, and it might even determine whether they survive.”

Download now: Build a Strategy to Maximize the Benefits of Cloud Computing

In 2022, new advancements make it possible to improve cloud deployments and extend them to previously unsuitable use cases. IT organizations should consider these six steps when building, implementing and maturing cloud computing strategies.

Step 1: Design cloud strategies for speed and business value

In today’s uncertain business environment, organizations must be able to move quickly to seize opportunities ahead of the competition. Cloud services have an important role to play in making the business they serve more agile and, therefore, more likely to succeed.

Infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals often focus on perfecting technical architectures at the expense of the more important consideration: delivering maximum business value in the minimum time. Start by mapping cloud strategies to three key CIO priorities:

  • Strategy and innovation: Consider how cloud can solve business problems and enable new innovations.
  • Governance and security: Focus on adaptable governance frameworks that have the flexibility to handle different implementation demands and risk profiles. 
  • Mobilization and migration: Organize for cloud success and to support the transformation of the organization as a whole.

Read more: The Cloud Strategy Cookbook

Step 2: Prioritize a primary provider in multicloud architectures

Most organizations have fully operationalized at least one major public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS) provider. Now, many will look to add a second cloud provider for additional application use cases. Multicloud strategies improve flexibility, but they also increase complexity and cost. 

Manage multicloud costs and complexity by defining a strategy for cloud workload placement. Choose a primary, preferred provider, and then when the organization has business requirements that the provider cannot meet, add additional providers in an orderly fashion driven by specific business needs. Develop a cloud workload placement framework that matches needs with the right-fit cloud provider.

Step 3: Build resilience into application architecture

The spotlight on IT resilience is only growing brighter given the increasing frequency of cybersecurity threats, especially ransomware; the continuing organizational disruptions of the pandemic; and other natural disasters and catastrophes. Resilience is a business differentiator. If your competitors suffer through delays and downtimes, while your business carries on, then your IT services have created an opportunity to showcase the superiority of your product. 

Reliability has historically been the responsibility of operators, who ensured it by building disaster recovery capabilities into the infrastructure. However, reliability is increasingly a feature of the application code itself. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2025, 30% of enterprises will establish new roles focused on IT resilience and boost end-to-end reliability, tolerability and recoverability by at least 45%. Embrace modern IT resilience by shifting the focus to resilient application architectures, rather than individual service continuity. 

Step 4: Enable hybrid architectures with distributed cloud

IT organizations build private and/or hybrid clouds for many reasons: regulatory requirements, data gravity, the momentum of legacy infrastructure, limitations of staff skill sets or even project deadlines. However, complexity and unmanageability often doom private cloud projects. Organizations expect hybrid and private clouds to have the same ease of use, service consumption and integration opportunities as public cloud, but they rarely meet these expectations.

Distributed cloud is an answer to this mismatch. The solutions extend the same native public cloud services to local infrastructure, while remaining under the same management schema. These cloud services are distributed to locations able to meet hybrid and private cloud needs while retaining the advantages of classic public cloud consumption.


Step 5: Optimize for cloud-native with containers and serverless

In the beginning, public cloud IaaS was delivered exclusively via virtual machines. But today, new virtualization methods are taking hold, including containers and serverless computing. As cloud computing principles become more embedded in application development and infrastructure operations, containers and serverless will become increasingly attractive deployment vehicles for code.

Applications designed with cloud-native architecture require a higher degree of service discovery, programmability, automation, observability, robust network communications and security. Containers and serverless computing permit resource consumption to be better tailored to the actual requirements of applications. This improves infrastructure agility, automation, efficiency and cost optimization. 

Step 6: Grow public cloud skills internally to bridge the talent gap

Although public cloud infrastructure is hardly new, I&O technical professionals have not acquired cloud skills fast enough to satisfy the growing demand for cloud services. A lack of skills can delay or curtail a cloud project, inhibiting innovation. As it grows more difficult to hire skilled personnel, IT organizations will need to grow public cloud skills internally.

Read more: I&O Professionals: Develop Emerging Technology Skills in 6 Key Areas

Consider building a talent enablement program (TEP), designed to promote and develop the necessary skills and to cultivate the necessary roles within the IT organization. A TEP can help define skills the organization needs, improve recruiting efforts and direct technical professionals to the most critical skills they need to improve on or attain.

Additionally, look for creative ways to bridge the cloud skills gap. For example, organizations can look to their existing cloud community of practice to recruit internal candidates for cloud roles. Employees who wish to enter a cloud role can enroll in cloud provider training courses and eventually earn the opportunity to train on the job on a project basis. Pairing is also an effective way to grow cloud skills. Set up a skilled external cloud architect with an employee who does not yet have cloud skills but has solid general architecture skills, with the goal of developing the internal employee into a full-fledged cloud architect.

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