The cloud undoubtedly features in your future IT strategy – but how do you make sure your investments pay off, you realise all available benefits with a successful journey to the cloud ? Here are seven best practice tips to ensure your cloud strategy starts in the best possible way – and continues to deliver value into the future.
1. Establish a cloud philosophy
What does cloud mean to your business? Do you have a very simplistic understanding – all your on-site systems recreated in the cloud? Or a strict commitment to a specific cloud service? If your definition is too loose, you will never realise all available benefits. Cloud computing is an ongoing journey of constant refinement; your stakeholders need to accept this reality – and philosophy – so that you can all move forwards together.
2. Be honest about the cloud
As the cloud began to grow in popularity, a lot of businesses began to adopt ‘cloud first’ strategies. All future development and deployments would be built in the cloud. But the reality is that not all systems are suited to cloud platforms. Real time processing needs to be performed on-site to ensure minimal latency for instance. And you may prefer to keep your most sensitive information in the local data centre. Determine exactly why each system needs to be migrated before moving anything off-site.
3. Ensure the conditions are right
Every IT migration project has major implications for time, finance, resources, culture and business continuity. But you must not proceed with a cloud project until the business is ready. Waiting until you are truly prepared will reduce risk of failure, or costly mistakes that limit or hinder future developments.
4. Create a team to oversee cloud
Effective cloud is more than just a technical issue. Like any business partnership you will need to seek advice from other stakeholders, including senior management, HR, legal, procurement and finance – in addition to IT. Hewlett Packard call this a ‘Cloud Business Office’ (CBO), a ‘central point of decision-making and communication for your cloud program’. You should appoint stakeholders to serve on this multi-disciplinary team who are empowered to steer cloud strategy and ensure that you can cover the non-technical factors too. Your CBO will need to address issues like financial governance, risk and security, compliance, vendor management and project oversight. And the IT team is not usually capable of addressing all of these issues without assistance.
5. Do your sums
You know that the cloud should be good for business – but can you quantify those benefits? Cloud platforms may allow you to switch from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operational expenditure (OpEx) models, but you may not see any dramatic reduction in overall costs. Instead you will need to quantify the other benefits of cloud computing. How much will we save when we don’t have to buy redundant capacity for future growth? How much will we save outsourcing management of hardware, software and networking to a cloud provider? What are the risks and associated costs – and are they shared with our partners? Are we seeing measurable productivity gains? TCO is hard to calculate when dealing with cloud operating models. But you will never properly understand whether you are receiving value for money if you don’t do the sums.
6. Obtain resources
A ‘lift and shift’ cloud migration could probably be completed by your existing IT team. Simply replicating your onsite infrastructure in the cloud will also replicate the problems and issues you are trying to solve, however. Instead you need to re-engineer systems to run in the infrastructure as code model. This will require skills and experience you probably don’t have in house. You will need a partner who can supply the relevant resources to make the migration a success – at speed.
7. Stay informed
Cloud technology continues to evolve at warp speed. We’ve gone from dedicated hosted hardware to virtual servers to containers and infrastructure as code in a matter of years. And the pace of change continues to accelerate. Your CBO will need to stay informed about these developments and how they can be used to help your business reach its strategic goals.
Take your time
As you can see, moving to the cloud is an involved, time-consuming process. These seven best practice tips will help map out the start of your cloud journey, but you must allocate sufficient time and resources to the process; shortcuts will inevitably compromise the success of your project. And don’t forget – the partners you choose to help steer a course through the multitude of options will also be vital. Their knowledge and experience will help you avoid the pitfalls that have caught your competitors in the past. Ready to start your cloud journey? Give the WTL team a call for friendly informal discussion.