Cloud computing is the new technology causing a seismic shift in enterprise IT. In its simplest form, it has enabled organizations to attain applications, infrastructures, and platforms as a service via the internet thus helping to reduce costs while significantly increasing value by enabling efficient use of IT resources. Despite the enthusiastic adoption of cloud […]
Cloud computing is the new technology causing a seismic shift in enterprise IT. In its simplest form, it has enabled organizations to attain applications, infrastructures, and platforms as a service via the internet thus helping to reduce costs while significantly increasing value by enabling efficient use of IT resources. Despite the enthusiastic adoption of cloud computing by most enterprises, some concerns such as immature technology, and security risks have prevented the widespread adoption of the cloud. The implementation of a comprehensive cloud strategy can easily overcome enterprise adoption barriers and deliver unprecedented agility, flexibility, innovation, and efficiency.
Most organizations adopt the cloud for simple and low-cost solutions. However, if properly and strategically deployed, organizations can harness the full power of this disruptive technology and maximize the control they have over it. Some the advantages of creating a cloud strategy include:
i. Maximize the business benefits of the cloud
Adopting the cloud has several compelling benefits. Improved efficiency, reduced costs, flexibility, and increased agility among others – a holistic cloud strategy remarkably increases these benefits. A study performed by IDG revealed that organizations that have an enterprise-wide cloud strategy witnessed an average of 60% more cost savings than those who adopted the cloud without a strategy. They also attained higher efficiencies and were able to provide more IT services through the cloud.
ii. Unveil other enterprise benefits of the cloud
Creating an enterprise cloud strategy will reveal several other opportunities for your business. One of the most constantly overlooked advantage of cloud computing is its unique ability to speed up innovation. By migrating specific functions to the cloud, you can accelerate the building, testing and refining of new applications; this further facilitates the exploration of more ideas.
iii. Establish all your infrastructure needs beforehand
A thought out cloud strategy gives you a solid opportunity to consider all the infrastructure needs of your cloud model up front as opposed to an afterthought. By dealing with all the requirements for a virtualized, shared infrastructure of compute, storage, and network resources; organizations will have an easier time efficiently transitioning workloads to the cloud model.
iv. Maintain full control of your cloud
In this era of on-demand cloud services, anyone with a stable internet connection can purchase and use cloud based computing services. However the 'consumerization of IT' poses several risks to the enterprise. An enterprise cloud strategy will help your business maintain full control of how cloud services are bought and used; this further helps in the enforcement and management of governance policies and standards.
Before adopting the cloud, it is important to comprehend your enterprise objectives and goals. This information will help you determine a realistic cloud strategy; it will also help you align your strategic vision for the cloud with your enterprise vision, so that the outcomes and activities add value to your organization. Factoring in a proper understanding of your enterprise needs and goals into the formation of a cloud strategy offers the business context to make cloud computing transformational for your enterprise.
i. Establish your infrastructure needs
Although listed above as a benefit, it can also be viewed as a tip and should be the first thing you do before setting out to create a cloud strategy. The quickest and most efficient way of discovering the systems you already have is by conducting a software and hardware audit. The businesses' legal status over compliance and regional regulations should also be checked at this point.
ii. Decide which applications will remain in-house and which will go into the cloud
A successful cloud strategy begins with an enterprise-level categorization of your workloads. The two main considerations at this point should be operational flexibility requirements of the workload and the strategic value of the workload.
iii. Determine the type of cloud you need
The three primary cloud types are private, public and hybrid. Each of the cloud types has its own advantages and disadvantages. Private is secure but requires servers to be on-premise (some private cloud solutions provide option to run on 3rd party servers), on the other hand, public cloud doesn't require on-premise infrastructure but it is less secure , and the hybrid cloud is a compromise between the two other cloud types. You should start by assessing which workload and determining which cloud type will be the most cost-effective and efficient for delivering that workload. Due to the sensitive nature of enterprise data, most organizations opt for private or hybrid solutions.
iv. Set your cloud goals (what you hope to achieve)
Review all the new applications and the expected growth from existing applications and workloads. If your data center will not be able to handle the deployment of new infrastructure then you should consider getting a cloud partner.
v. Search for a credible cloud partner
Shortlist potential cloud partners and discuss your goals with each of them. Identify and eliminate the ones you feel will not be able to deliver what you need. Comparing written proposals and performing due diligence on each prospective partners will help you find the right one.
vi. Perform an initial test run
Before deploying the entire workload you should first test out one app for a trial period. Assess the performance using your own choice of metrics and at the end of the trial establish how well the cloud matches your requirements. If the trial is successful, work closely with your cloud partner to create a plan for moving the rest of the workload to the cloud.
Adopting the cloud is more of a strategic decision than a tactical or operational one. Cloud adoption has to be viewed from an enterprise architecture perspective as opposed to an isolated application architecture specific strategy because it has both long term and short term implications on enterprise strategy which may go beyond the business's technology footprint.
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