The Covid-19 crisis has reemphasized the critical importance of the cloud. Thanks to the cloud’s natural capability of scaling up and being resilient, the cloud has become one of the pivotal levers for digital transformation. Research firm, Gartner, has said that the ability to use on-demand, scalable cloud models to achieve cost efficiency and business continuity is providing the impetus for organizations to rapidly accelerate their digital business transformation plans. With the increased demand for cloud computing, Gartner estimates that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020. More importantly, Gartner believes that the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with the cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.
As the demand for cloud-based solutions continues to grow, it is important for organizations to adopt a pragmatic enterprise cloud strategy. This is critical if organizations want to utilize the full potential of the cloud. Not having a comprehensive and planned cloud strategy can prove to be detrimental, and could result in higher costs and an overall disillusionment with the outcomes.
Let’s now look at some of the best practices of an effective enterprise cloud strategy:
#Define what you want to achieve with the cloud: Depending on the nature of the business of specific organizations, the cloud can have different implications. Given the scalability of the cloud and the increased chances of innovation, organizations must define the stated goals that they have from the cloud. Scalability, speed to market, cost savings or simply a competitive advantage in the marketplace they belong to – may be some of the key drivers identified. Some other influential factors may also be related to the cloud’s role in disaster recovery or ability to use emerging technologies such as AI or RPA using the cloud as the foundation.
#Identify your current state of IT infrastructure: Before moving to the cloud, it is important to create an inventory of current applications and their interdependencies. Depending on the importance of the application and the criticality, enterprises can create a strategy to migrate each application. The insights about interdependencies are extremely crucial for analyzing performance issues post migration. You could also decide the first departments or functions that will use the cloud-based applications or processes. For example, in the case of marketing, it could be CRM.
#Decide your migration strategy: While moving application workloads to cloud-based platforms, organizations must choose to either rehost, rearchitect, rebuild or replace. Rehost refers to rehosting applications without any modifications or change. This is the quickest way to move applications to the cloud. This is recommended only when there are no changes required to the infrastructure configuration of the applications. Rearchitecting or Refactoring an application for the cloud refers to re-architecting applications to better suit to the new cloud environment. Enterprises can even choose to completely discard the existing code for applications and decide to completely rebuild or replace existing applications with new applications.
#Choose your cloud deployment model: Depending on the business objective, your organization may decide to go with one or multiple cloud deployment models available – from public cloud to private cloud or the most popular hybrid cloud model. The next step is to choose the cloud service model that suits your organization – from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS).
# Ensuring robust security: While most public cloud providers have robust security measures, client organizations are responsible for securing applications or databases that they put on top of the cloud platform. One common mistake is to leave default credentials left unchanged or excessive permissions being granted. Many organizations make the mistake of assuming that assuming that the same settings that work onsite will work in a cloud environment. Gartner has hence, rightly, put the onus of security on the customer. Gartner says that, "Through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.”. Hence, it is necessary for organizations to understand the context of security in a cloud environment.
#Define a cloud governance model: To ensure that the strategic objectives of going in for a cloud model are met, and performance and resources are aligned adequately, a cloud governance model is important. A cloud governance model ensures that costs are monitored across different departments, and performance is measured on a consistent basis to compare actual performance with provisioned capacity. A cloud governance model can also help organizations to establish how access is given to different entities, depending on their work profiles. A cloud governance framework is also useful in highlighting and identifying probable vulnerabilities and taking proactive policy related decisions to reduce risks. Alerts can also be setup to notify organizations whenever escalations or deviations happen from the defined desired state.
The cloud is a journey, and not a static milestone. It is hence important for organizations to understand and fine tune their enterprise strategies to take full advantage of the many benefits of the cloud.