Actionable tips for a successful cloud strategy

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Cloud computing has changed the business landscape. Not only does it bring a bevy of benefits – greater transparency, flexibility, reduced hardware and maintenance costs; but also more importantly allows companies to leverage enterprise IT, which they otherwise couldn’t afford. Then what is slowing down the adoption of cloud computing en masse?

The very nature of cloud computing that makes it so affordable also creates a lot of mistrust in the IT wing of companies. In cloud computing, IT has to give up control of its resources, which it holds dearer than life. Additionally, the fear of vulnerability in event of a security breach creates a mental block against the technology. Secondly, cloud computing offers an assortment of services, but with all the hype around these services, it has become rather difficult to understand the various aspects of different cloud services and to pick out the ones most beneficial for the business.

What’s worse is that many companies jump the cloud bandwagon without adequate preparation and end up being ‘lost in the clouds’, scrambling to get back to terra firma. So before you decide to begin your cloud journey, it is advisable to make a well-rounded cloud strategy.

Here are some actionable tips for creating an effective strategy to move to the clouds.

Get to Know the Technology

Cloud computing means different things to different people/organizations. You need to ignore the sizzle and focus on the steak to understand what cloud computing is about and what it can mean to your organization. Yes, it’s not one size fits all technology. And it’s definitely not ‘plug, play and everything will fall into its place’ technology. Cloud computing strategy that works for a data driven organization may not work so well if adopted by a marketing firm. By understanding the terminology, models, threats and benefits of cloud computing, companies can know how and where this technology is most suited in their organization.

Recognize What You Want and What You Don’t

Your company DNA is different from even your closest competitors. Do you want to play safe and pick up a la carte services or take your entire service to the cloud with ITaaS, will entirely depend on you. There are some companies, who will want to leverage open source cloud computing services, tweaking the code where required and maximizing on cloud. While others may want to pick up prepackaged goods, so that there is minimal downtime. It all boils down to the ‘construct’ of the organization.

Evaluate Your Options with End in Mind

It’s much like reverse engineering. You need to know how your company will shape up down the line and then go back systematically. How you plan to expand, what all services you will move to the cloud, what security services must a vendor provide to ensure seamless functionality, and can the vendor scale as your IT and other services mature and become more demanding are some key questions you need answered before you decide on a vendor. In addition, by anticipating security and compliance policies, you will be able to create an IT strategy that allows your cloud activities to grow without posing a threat to your infrastructure or data security.

Match Your IT Strategy with Your business Strategy

Technology in isolation can do nothing. The magic works when it works in tandem with people and processes. To that end, a company’s IT strategy should envision how people and processes will work together to bring cohesiveness in disparate architectures, sub processes, teams and mandates. In addition, the overarching goal of the IT strategy should not be limited to seamless adoption of cloud computing but should also ensure its scalability as the company witnesses business growth – mapping the IT strategy to the overall business strategy.

Define the Process

Without a process, the best of technologies can fail miserably and cloud computing is no different. The process definition here is twofold:

How the vendor plans to implement services: If your vendor promises that all you need to do is sit back and relax as they devise the right plan to take you to the cloud, it is best to ignore their advice. After all it’s your data that is being taken on the third party site. From the cloud network diagrams, to processes for ensuring compliance, to incorporating existing IT architecture and making it all work seamlessly, you need to know how it is being done. Additionally, since this change will also involve data migration, you should know how that bit will be fixed, what downtime can be expected and what security measures will be undertaken for smooth transition.

How you plan to implement services: You need to ensure that your teams and infrastructure are ready for this change. If it requires pre- or post- implementation training, it should be arranged for. Moving to the cloud is a big transition and your teams need to know how they will benefit from it, what will be their role in ensuring smooth functioning and what could be at stake.

Try Before You Hire

One industry that has greatly benefited from ‘free trial’ is cloud computing. With free (or paid) trials, potential customers get a preview of how they can benefit from the cloud and the vendors get an opportunity to interact with these business leads and work to convert them. With many vendors offering plug and play trials, getting hitched on a cloud service can be simple, seamless and inexpensive, especially considering the costs involved in getting an in premise hardware or software deployment. A free trial also gives companies an opportunity to understand how the vendor will deliver on his promises. The only caveat here is to not give the trial a mere lip service, and instead use it as an opportunity to test the robustness of the service with real data and apps.

A mix of legacy architecture, disparate software, and multiple mobile users makes for a complex IT environment. Add to that the dimension of cloud computing and you have an arsenal of fine weaponry, which can win you the battle or make you go up in flames, depending on how you execute it. However, when you start with a solid cloud computing strategy, you put your best foot forward in your journey to cloud nirvana and eventually, business agility.

 

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