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The term ‘digital transformation’ has evolved for businesses, particularly in the last decade. What once meant a simple shift to virtual forms and online communication, now has vast implications across the different aspects of a business. As a core enabler of digital transformation, cloud adoption has been a focus for businesses in recent years, so much so that it’s created the popular moniker ‘cloud first.’ Cloud adoption boomed rapidly, as businesses raced to leverage the cloud and support their hybrid work environments. Many businesses realised while they understand the need for cloud technology, they might not have the correct resources to ensure that they are harnessing its benefits strategically. This resulted in organisations having complex and fragmented implementations across various cloud platforms, whether it’s public, private or edge. What has become clear, there is a difference between being cloud first and being cloud smart. In this article, we’ll explore best practices for employing a cloud smart approach.
The price of failing to optimise an enterprise cloud strategy comes in the form of spiraling monthly costs, unmodified workloads failing to unlock critical cloud features and issues with performance management. All in all, it takes away time and money that a cloud smart strategy should be giving back. Organisations must begin to leverage smart and sustainable approaches to their cloud infrastructure, including public, private or edge cloud. A customised cloud smart strategy can match an organisation’s goals and circumstances to its ability to execute with the cloud.
Shortcomings of a Cloud First approach
For nearly a decade, cloud first has been the prevalent approach to cloud adoption initiatives. It can be counterproductive to maximise the cloud footprint by prioritising legacy system modernisation, resulting in workload migrations. Some of the main shortcomings of a cloud first approach plaguing organisations are:
● Gaps between cloud expectation and execution abilities: Organisations often develop unrealistic expectations from the cloud that get compounded due to the lack of technical, financial, or strategic skills required to implement them.
● Incongruency due to siloed business processes: The cloud is agile and dynamic by nature. Legacy organisational properties like operational silos, rigid IT governance and outdated foundational practices are often incompatible with the cloud.
● Speed over planning: A cloud first approach is speed centric. The mad rush to incorporate the cloud and its elements across each stratum of operations leaves limited time to adopt other approaches.
● Getting the right cloud services with the right workload: Cloud offerings can be diverse, extensive and complex. The varied and complicated nature of cloud service provider offerings exacerbates the confusion in matching the right cloud services with the right workload.
● Lack of specialized IT skills: Other than investment, planning and a cultural shift, a cloud transformation, also requires a specialized IT skillset that organisations often lack.
All these issues can be reversed with a cloud smart approach where cloud adoption is synchronized with organizational goals and values.
Becoming Cloud Smart
Gartner estimates that 60% of organisations that have adopted a cloud first approach will switch to a cloud smart approach by 2023. Considering most business leaders are expected to spend half of their IT budget on the cloud by 2025, gaining control over these costs has now become of paramount importance.
A cloud smart approach entails determining whether an organisation has the right mix of private and public cloud, edge, and on-prem infrastructure to meet its various unique workloads, as well as all its compliance and regulatory obligations. To achieve this, a cloud smart approach considers a range of factors: the management, cost, visibility, interoperability, network, and application priorities of a business to create a more unified cloud environment.
Here are a few crucial considerations to derive maximum value from cloud investments with a holistic strategy:
● Identify and set realistic goals: The priority toward driving a cloud smart approach is to set realistic goals and expectations for cloud initiatives.
● The right fitment for the migration-mix: Identify the right cloud environments to determine which applications to keep on-premises and which to migrate to the cloud (private/public).
● A performance measurement cycle: Identify all the benchmarks and then focus on improving them as you progress along with a cloud smart strategy.
● The right investment in services and orchestration tools: Invest in tools and services that help in reducing the complexity of your cloud journey.
● Mitigation of the risks and compliance violations: Ungoverned cloud adoption and poor foundational practices can put organizations at risk of security breaches, data
loss, compliance issues and budget overruns. They must be contained and mitigated accordingly.
● Workplace culture realignment: Use your current resources to their maximum value including reskilling and retraining staff. Also, enhance security postures and use best practices to inherit cultural reforms.
● A cloud exit strategy: Create a clear cloud exit strategy during the initial cloud design and planning phases considering aspects such as stakeholder management, application, legal and data governance, etc.
By taking on the benefits of all the different cloud environments and using that mix to offset the potential weaknesses of each, organisations can create a unified, automated and scalable environment perfect to their needs.
Collaboration is the key
It is a smart choice to look to a partner with experience to foster a holistic cloud experience. Organisations can choose to partner with experienced cloud migration experts and managed service providers to unlock significant business value from their cloud investments. The experts can weave their disparate IT infrastructure together, orchestrate migration / consolidation of different clouds (public, private and/or edge cloud) to provide a unified cloud environment that is optimised, continuously monitored and managed. A savvy roadmap toward cloud optimisation includes:
● Formulating a well-defined strategy that identifies obstacles, ensures minimal disruption, and sets realistic goals and expectations.
● Improving performance and cost-saving through a well-crafted migration strategy.
● Championing workload migrations in sync with organisational preferences, its technological, security and regulatory environments.
● Enabling organisations to take advantage of cloud economics by protecting current investments, optimising infrastructure resources, and forecasting the budget efficiently along with cost visibility.
In conclusion, a cloud smart approach can lead organisations to a place where their costs are predictable and their workloads are optimised. This gives them a competitive edge to execute a sustainable digital transformation strategy that is aligned with the customer’s needs and organisational goals. After all, the cloud cannot deliver on its promise if you don’t know what to expect from it. Read more on how you can make smart choices and stay ahead in your digital journey.