How to Build a Cloud Strategy in 10 Simple Steps

In today’s technologically advanced world, it has become a prerequisite for all businesses/companies to adopt cloud computing within their organizations for their growth and development.  A cloud strategy is a layout that an organization develops while adopting cloud computing operations. Cloud is the underlying structure that has enabled businesses to transform and gain competitive advantage. By mapping a cloud strategy, Industry leaders can ensure cloud decisions align with corporate goals and requirements.

Here are 10 simple steps that can help you to map a comprehensive cloud strategy that aligns with business needs.

1)Building a Road map

Shifting to the cloud is a challenging process and requires agility. The integral rule is to connect the cloud strategy with your business’s mission, vision, goals and targets. The cloud technologies that the company is looking forward to adopting should match the business strategy and should cater to better businesses operations. Lay down the organization’ objectives and how the Cloud could help achieve them. Consider the industry and geographical factors that will impact cloud adoption. Build a road map that is not restricted to just building an optimal cloud strategy but also closely aligns the cloud strategy with your business requirements and will help you generate quality work and experience.

2)Current Status of your company’s IT

Understanding the current state of the IT department is crucial when you are building a cloud strategy. It is important to take into consideration your organization’s capabilities in regards to IT. Your current IT state may consist of high up-front costs which pose a high risk, expensive to get and keep secure, & it may not always be business-aligned. So these issues should be addressed beforehand and be resolved. The size of your organization, the regional and global reach of your organization and other important factors should be taken into account. This helps you to decide if you are in a good position to invest in the cloud. It is also crucial to assess if the IT department is ready and in place for the introduction of new technologies. A Readiness Assessment can be put in place to evaluate and provide a framework for studying and deciding whether what you presently have in place is sufficient to introduce something new.

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3) Financial Implications

Having clarity on the financial implications a company has when adopting a cloud strategy is of utmost importance. This is where the need for communicating with the finance leaders comes into context. They look at the financial options available and identify and address cost transparency, budgeting and predictability. It is essential for any cloud strategy decision to identify the financial implications involved. While cloud is funded by an operating expense model instead of a capital expense model, understanding the consequences it could have on the organization’s financial state is crucial before funding decisions are made.

4)The Right Cloud Deployment Model

Businesses should decide what kind of cloud deployment model they want to adopt. A public, private or a hybrid cloud. Adopting a certain type of cloud hugely depends on the kind of business you own and your priorities and budget. It is very crucial to determine how you want to deploy the cloud within your organization, and you do this by choosing the deployment model that’s right for you. Each model has its own set of pros and cons and it is best to choose the model which closely aligns with your business priorities and which will eventually provide you with the right level of computing support and security. From the public cloud. which is cheaper and is known for its “pay as you go” concept to the private cloud which enables you to customize and have your dedicated infrastructure or a hybrid solution that combines a private and public cloud. Then you can compare the specific functions of public, private, and hybrid cloud and make a decision that benefits your company and meets its requirements.

5) The right type of cloud service

Once you choose a deployment model, choosing the right type of cloud service that fits best with your organizational needs is of utmost importance. Highlighting three essential cloud services which have its own set of pros and cons: Information as a service (IaaS) which can help you to have a strong command and control over application configuration; Software as a Service (SaaS), wherein the software is updated already by the vendor, thus automating all operations for the users; Platform as a Services  (PaaS), which provides cloud-based Application development, testing, and rollout.

6) Cloud governance and service management skills – Supporting Elements

It is important to ensure that all the departments within your organization are well aware of the new technology being introduced. Businesses need to have the right tools and skills to be able to monitor, manage and support Cloud. They should be aware of the governance and compliance framework which will set and manage cloud standards and policies. Communication is the key within your organization to set up the governance framework, build a Cloud Centre and keep a Cloud Architect. This is critical in forming the strategy and to take a lead in setting the policies and standards across the business. Your staff should be capable of handling cloud computing operations. Businesses must upskill the existing team members with efficient training and guidance so that they can work with the newly introduced technologies.

7)Security Factor

The top priority when an organization is migrating to cloud is the ‘Security’ factor. In past years, organisations have been cautious of trusting the security of the public cloud. While top cloud providers do a remarkable job of securing services, it is the client’s responsibility to secure applications and data.  Businesses/ companies must take care of this factor and prevent any security/privacy breach. Aligning the cloud strategy with the organization’s overall security strategy is very important. Based on what your cloud application is centred around, different data security normas may be applicable. Encryption of the stored data is one way with which you can ensure data security in your cloud application.

8) Selecting and Prioritizing cloud initiatives

Once you have decided how the cloud can be deployed within your organization, the next step is to select and prioritize your cloud initiatives. Identify target departments where you can employ cloud operation, for example, you can focus on Sales, Finance or HR, then you can Outline  IT services For each department, break down the IT services that support each one of these business activities, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), website, email, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), then discuss which cloud services hold most priority. After this is done, select about 5 IT services for the cloud to be employed.

9)Feedback

Feedback is crucial after you have implemented cloud to your end-users. Ask relevant questions: What do they like?  What needs to be improved? What don’t they like? Do they have any other inputs?  Is the technology useful? So, the key is to communicate, observe, address and resolve all issues pertaining to it so that there is seamless working and execution. Any concerns should be addressed quickly. Feedback allows you to make the necessary changes wherever required.

10) Exit strategy

An exit strategy deals with the process of opting out of a cloud decision if it does not work out as planned. Exit strategy works hand in hand with feedback. Exit strategy addresses contracts, data ownership, backup and portability, issue of lock-in: at the data level, application level, the architecture level and the skills level. If a cloud decision needs to be changed, improved or rolled back, the exit strategy will come in handy to indicate it and plan and do the necessary.

Conclusion

These are the steps you can follow to develop and implement a successful cloud strategy that will meet your business needs. Cloud ventures into innovative thinking about architecture and design of applications. It is also a very economically viable option to operate because you can scale up and down based on your requirements and business needs.

AUTHOR BIO:

Sameer Mehta is a blogger and entrepreneur and writes on technology and lifestyle related topics. He has more than 15 years of experience across technology, consulting and marketing. He has written for Entrepreneur, West Agile Labs, Exegy Consulting, Jewellerista, etc.