Cloud computing is an increasingly popular technology. Companies of all sizes and industries are migrating from traditional on-premise to the cloud. The main reason for cloud migration is the many benefits companies wouldn't get with traditional data centres, including scalability, flexibility, and security.
In fact, according to a recent McKinsey survey, most respondents (such as CTOs and cloud-program leaders) expect that within the next three years, more than half of their applications will be in the public cloud. Despite the growing number of companies that have adopted cloud computing, it isn't a decision that should be taken lightly. Many factors must be considered, including what you need, your budget, and what benefits you expect from using the cloud. Having a cloud strategy in place will ensure you make an informed choice.
A cloud strategy is a business plan that outlines an organisation's overall approach to migrating, deploying and managing its applications and data in the cloud. It defines how the company will use cloud technology, how it will benefit, and what risks it might encounter. Adopting clouds is an ongoing process that evolves with your business needs and keeps you aligned with achieving your goals.
There are various cloud strategies available, and the one you choose should align with your business needs as well as your scaling capability. The following is a more detailed look at four main types of cloud strategy.
A single public cloud strategy is one in which services are provided only by a cloud provider. As a result, computing, storage, and software are available on a pay-as-you-go basis. This cloud strategy is viable for businesses that want to maintain legacy software and infrastructure while focusing on essential business functions.
The single private strategy outlines that all data and applications hosted on the cloud belong solely to the business. The technology stack compatible with your action plan will be available through an on-premise cloud provider's data centre. This strategy is ideal for organisations concerned about data security and unwilling to risk moving their data.
A hybrid cloud strategy combines the features of both public and private clouds, offering the possibility to maintain some applications on-site while moving others to the public cloud.
An organisation employing a multiple-public strategy uses the same type (private or public) of more than one cloud service model, such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, from more than one cloud provider. It is one of the most popular strategies because it offers a seamless cloud experience.
The potential value of cloud services is tremendous. However, the cloud is more than just a new way to do things; it's also an economic model that requires careful consideration.
Cloud adoption can be facilitated by a robust strategy that considers that merely transferring information from on-site servers will not ensure seamless or any functionality. The economics of running applications in the cloud differs from more traditional models, something many businesses fail to consider when planning their cloud migration strategies.
By following some of the most important lessons learned by McKinsey, businesses can ensure a successful transition to the cloud.
When some companies move to the cloud, they often simply migrate existing applications with minimal or no redesign. Such approach means that most of the technical and operational inefficiencies of the old applications are retained, preventing a business from taking advantage of the cloud's dynamic infrastructure.
The benefits that can be reaped in the short term pale in comparison to those that companies could capture in one year, such as time to market, access to advanced capabilities, and innovation. Investing more time in foundation development, app remediation, and automation could lead to a 15% – 25% increase over short-term gains.
Traditional IT infrastructure for most enterprises is based on a capital expenditure model with long-term demand planning. Costs for consuming additional capacity are minimal, and companies use average costs and utilisation rates to evaluate their cost-effectiveness.
On the contrary, cloud service providers have shifted the paradigm to an operational cost model in which businesses pay for what they use. Therefore, companies must adapt and learn to develop a dynamic approach that optimises their marginal costs by selecting cloud services that best meet their current workload requirements.
When companies move to an operational expenditure approach, they often budget for future spending based on past patterns. It can result in more than a 20% discrepancy between forecast and actual expenditures, resulting in poor allocation decisions and the need for difficult rebudgeting.
Organisations should tie it to business priorities for better forecasting and budget planning for the cloud. Effective forecasting requires organisations to establish unit economics for their core applications, such as calculating customer cost per customer. This approach requires a shift in mindset towards a consumption-based model and a competent finance operations team capable of understanding the business drivers of cloud spending and its impact on unit economics.
Successful cloud adoption can be especially useful for workloads with variable consumption to allocate resources more effectively. For example, a video-streaming company that analysed the relationship between the cost of cloud services and business demand drivers accurately predicted future cloud consumption 95% of the time.
Companies that fail to differentiate between workloads that would benefit from on-demand scaling and those that wouldn't end up missing out on potential savings. Thus, companies need to evaluate their workloads individually to determine if elasticity patterns could help them save money on the cloud.
Businesses should be aware that they often overestimate their cloud utilisation. It can lead to increased expenditure because most companies end up with lower use rates than expected. While some enterprises with advanced cloud architectures have utilisation rates of over 60%, most companies fall below 30% and sometimes below 10%.
An infrastructure supporting higher use rates makes it possible to achieve them. However, all too often, the business's cloud economics and architecture are developed independently, resulting in utilisation rates that the underlying infrastructure cannot support. To avoid this problem, companies need to establish a close relationship between the cloud business case and the transformation of their architecture.
It is not recommended that every workload be moved to the cloud. Some workloads, such as storage services on custom-designed on-premises infrastructure, can be more valuable if left on-site. Companies with a small number of massively scaled workloads need to be careful when deciding which ones to migrate to the cloud.
The following steps should be taken into consideration by businesses when developing, implementing and maturing their cloud strategy. It is a general overview that can be adapted to the specific needs of a company.
Outline your specific business objectives and goals, and explain how cloud computing will help you achieve them more effectively. It can include starting new business functions, attaining growth, consolidating data centre facilities, or any other goal that is expected to be helped by the cloud. Furthermore, specify how the outlined objectives can further be used to assess the performance of the cloud.
Before moving data and workloads into the cloud, it's essential to understand where you stand today. It will help you determine which areas of your business would benefit most from moving to the cloud.
Are you running on outdated equipment? Do you have too many servers in a single location? Do some applications require more memory or processing power than others? Knowing these details will help you gauge what capabilities are needed in the new environment — so look at everything from hardware to software requirements for each application you plan to move into the cloud.
Cloud target state involves identifying what your business needs from its cloud and how you can use its services to improve the company's operations. Start by asking these questions:
It is essential to understand the risks associated with the cloud, such as, but not limited to:
Security risks - The security of information stored in the cloud depends on many factors, including encryption methods and password protection. Many companies have been compromised due to poor security in their applications, databases and storage systems. It's crucial to address security concerns before integrating applications into the cloud.
Data privacy risks - Data privacy laws vary between countries, so it's essential to understand how your data will be treated by different jurisdictions when stored in the cloud. It includes how law enforcement agencies can access any personally identifiable information (PII) under specific circumstances without your consent or knowledge.
The last stage in the rollout of your cloud strategy is its implementation. You should also have a plan detailing how to carry out this implementation, including developing a clear roadmap with milestones and timelines for each step of the migration process.
You should also know that every new service your company selects will require ongoing support. With a well-thought-out plan, you and your IT team can manage and customise your new set of tools while taking advantage of the support and knowledge from your vendors without increasing workloads for your team.
In the fast-moving world of the cloud, it is vital to have a structured process to align business strategy with technology innovation. Defining your cloud strategy will help you determine where current investments should be focused and how enterprise cloud adoption should move forward. It will also make it easier for you to articulate your vision and goals for your enterprise cloud strategy, ultimately improving its chances of success.
In this article, we have highlighted the basic steps for enterprises that want to implement a cloud strategy. This list is not exhaustive and needs to be adjusted based on your specific needs.
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