As a technology, cloud computing is over a decade old. But unlike some technologies that couldn’t evolve in capabilities or expand in scope, cloud technology has been growing in relevance, productivity, and adoption. For instance, 83% of company workload was on cloud by 2020 (TechJury/Forbes), up from 57% in just eight years (IDG). Hence terms like cloud strategy, cloud strategy framework and cloud strategy consultant have gained prominence in the technology world.
Lets first, go over what is cloud computing and then see what is cloud first strategy.
In simple words, cloud computing refers to on-demand hosted services that you can use as per your requirements.
One of the key words here is ‘on-demand’. Cloud offers you the elasticity that’s virtually infinite – you can scale up or scale down as much as you want and whenever you want to. That means everything you need from your computing systems is easily available on-demand. As a result, cloud services make it unnecessary to own and manage local servers or computing infrastructure.
What is cloud first strategy?
Cloud first strategy refers to the prioritizing of cloud usage over internally building hardware and capabilities, wherever feasible. This strategy aims to reduce costs incurred in putting up investment-heavy computing facilities and instead leverage cost-effective cloud technology.
One of the key objectives behind adopting a cloud-first strategy is to free up financial and human resources that are otherwise tied up to your system management internally.
An inadequate or poorly formulated cloud-first strategy can lead to unnecessary pressure points, including a mismatch of expectations and reality as well as undue delays. A clear strategy, on the other hand, ensures you approach the cloud with confidence grounded in refined understanding and expectations.
Benefits of cloud computing
As a technology that’s both matured and yet growing in terms of capabilities, cloud brings a host of benefits. However, we will restrict ourselves to the four principal benefits of cloud computing:
Cloud technology can offer extremely high data security, depending upon the sensitivity of the data and any additional factors you wish to include. Encryption, best practices and governance, and sophisticated infrastructure form the core of data protection in the cloud. Moreover, monitoring and a wide range of access controls that you can adjust will add to the flexibility.
Traditionally, when you tighten the clamps around security, you would have fewer opportunities to collaborate. Here, cloud presents a pleasant paradox: It brings a great deal more opportunities for your diverse departments to easily collaborate on the same project, even as you enjoy more security.
As an example, if you need your sales and product development teams to work together on a new project, cloud will ensure the two teams are on the same page – literally. And this will be achieved without overstepping the data protection boundaries set by regulators.
For most businesses, this is a highly critical benefit, next only to perhaps data security. Cloud combines a highly reduced downtime with efficiency. One of the key reasons behind this is the cloud’s ability to schedule testing without interrupting your business operations.
Another reason businesses find cloud suitable for their data security needs is the great flexibility it provides. Cloud is, at heart, a pay-as-you-grow model which means you can keep upgrading as your data complexity goes up too.
Cloud lets you align all your needs, complexities, and budget with cloud-based solutions and infrastructure. You are never tied down to a rigid pattern: scale up or scale down as you please. What’s more, you can choose the type of cloud separately for each of your digital assets you’re moving to cloud.
Not only that, it provides the same degree of flexibility to your teams as well. In the post-Corona world we live in today, where work-from-home has suddenly become a common feature with large and small businesses alike, letting your employees work at various locations is one of the best benefits of cloud.
Cloud strategy principles
Just like any important transformation, cloud strategy is pivoted around a set of clear principles. Adherence to these principles is essential to achieving desired outcomes. So, How do you develop a cloud strategy? Here are the top 4 cloud strategy principles:
1. Risk mitigation
Cloud adoption means you’re moving your data, applications, and other virtual capabilities outside of your existing physical systems that you’ve been using over the years. Naturally risk mitigation forms an extremely important pillar in cloud strategy principles.
Risk mitigation for cloud requires you define in advance what security configurations will be required for each of your applications. That’s because the sensitivity of data within each of them will be different, and predefined protocols will ensure that each level of data access is precisely in lines with your policies.
Most importantly, it’s important to develop a cloud strategy framework that ensures better decisions. That way, your organization not only protects itself from unwanted exposure but also prevents inadequate performance, missed opportunities, or delays.
2. Ability and accountability
While cloud is a strong enabler, clear documentation of abilities and accountabilities are perhaps the best way to realize the promised benefits of cloud. It’s important, therefore, to audit what your cloud provider offers and what you expect.
The next step is to clearly understand what will be the internal resources you will be deploying. What degree of support is your cloud provider willing to extend? How far would their capabilities complement your own resources?
Clear demarcation of mutual expectations, deliverables, and responsibilities will be key to smooth transitioning. With that, you’ll be neither saddled with having to do too many things yourself nor reduced to a bystander with little to no control over how the provider is executing things.
3. Cost vs benefits
The benefits of cloud far outweigh the costs involved, so a huge number of businesses are moving to cloud. That said, you still want to know the ROI you can expect before you commit to cloud adoption. Transitioning to cloud will take time, expertise, and investment, so you don’t want to rush in without adequate clarity on the cost/benefit ratio.
Have the vendor you choose to work with layout not only the financial but also the technological, and administrative returns against the resources you are committing to cloud migration. That will crystallize your expectations on all fronts.
Don’t forget that with in-house systems, you were provisioning for CapEx (Capital Expenditure), whereas with cloud, you’re moving to OpEx (Operational Expenditure). That means your business functions get more ownership for the computing capabilities used while you, as the business, achieve more accountability in return.
4. Change management
Your cloud consulting partner will play an important role here too, because moving to cloud is not simply a switch to another tool. It encompasses changes in processes, roles, and governance, in addition to architecting for the new technology.
For example, robust data protection practices are already inherent to the cloud. As a result, you’ll need to strategize away from mere data control, toward faster, highly secure access to data on a need-to-know basis, leading to enablement of teams. All this will be associated with a change in how your teams perceive their roles, authority, and accountability.
Be sure also to provision for a tracking system. This tracking system will not only keep a record of what changes are made and which ones are pending, but it will note whether compliance requirements are being met.
Cloud strategy framework
A strong cloud strategy framework will guide you through the complex stages of adopting cloud technology. It is important to understand that the cloud isn’t a mere lift-and-shift mechanism, there’s a lot more involved. Appreciating each facet will ensure faster implementation, lower costs, and concrete, positive results.
Here are 5 frameworks through which you can plan better and achieve what you had originally set out to.
One of the most significant reasons cloud is changing business processes is information flow. A well-thought-through cloud strategy will result in information flowing faster and bringing you more flexibility. That, in turn, will enable faster decision-making and help you develop into a more lean, agile organization.
Ask how you’ll be able to build processes that help smoother coordination between departments. Your customer-facing teams, for instance, should be able to feed a lot more data to your product teams or to your finance teams. Improved understanding of your customers will help you serve them better. The next logical step will be where you’ll be in a position to involve customers at the product design stage itself.
Instead of being a support system, technology will become a major enabler, thanks to the cloud. You’ll witness data being collected, shared, and analyzed differently. As a powerful driver of change, your cloud strategy will reinforce your organization’s ability to derive more value from such a transformation.
Examine how the four dimensions where your cloud technology can help you score: simplification of processes, consolidation of operations, the wider scope for applications, and speedier product and service design. A forward-looking cloud strategy framework lets you set the paradigm for exploiting more opportunities from the remote technology stack that cloud gives you access to.
From a larger perspective, the power of the cloud lies in its ability to let you do things differently. Organizational-wide transformation in terms of better, more efficient usage of your human teams will become a norm. As you draw your cloud strategy roadmap, you’ll want to make provisions for how you’ll be able to redeploy your teams.
How will their skills be directed towards product development, customer servicing, strategic partnering, or business growth? How will you be reassigning the roles and drawing new lines of authority? When you move your teams, make sure they get to do more fulfilling activities that liberate them from relatively repetitive tasks of system administration.
With more countries clamping tighter data protection regulations, you don’t want your business organization to be overwhelmed by meeting compliance requirements. As you prepare to move to cloud, it’s important to evaluate the cloud strategy framework in the context of security, and how much time (and resources) you’ll be putting behind security.
How will your cloud technology partner help you with different aspects of security and regulations? That includes cybersecurity, compliance, governance, effective oversight, minimized loopholes and faster detection of potential threats.
How’s the move to the cloud going to impact your business in general and your customers in particular? Do you have a clear picture about the actual costs involved? Will the transition be smooth or will it seriously interrupt your daily business operations?
Your cloud strategy needs to address broader questions such as the ones above. These questions not only ensure you approach the cloud more realistically but also maintain a 360-degree view of everything before and during the transition.
The next step
Experts are increasingly convinced that cloud is the future and that it’s just a matter of time before cloud is comprehensively embraced by businesses of all sizes. And that’s not difficult to believe, given the huge advantages cloud migration brings to businesses.
Resilience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness are three of the many reasons why your business too should consider the cloud. By opening a dialogue well ahead of time with a cloud strategy consultant, you will be able to understand the cloud better and comfortable pace your transition.
We’d love to help you evaluate how cloud can transform the way you conduct business. Let’s talk!