A cloud strategy allows an organization to have clear directives with strong executive buy-in, increasing the probability of a successful journey to the cloud.
The adoption of public cloud-based services is becoming much more common for large enterprises, and cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, which continue to release new service offerings and improve features within existing offerings.
We also understand that organizations continue to see an increase in business demands, while budgets are further constrained.
Organizations want to embrace the cloud as an enabling technology and transition their businesses to become service-oriented. These cloud technologies will allow the organizations to:
- Be more responsive in meeting business needs
- Shift IT resources to other tasks
- Become more agile when comparing deployment alternatives
- Enable better tracking of spend by line of business or project
However, embracing cloud can also impose new challenges, such as:
- Lack of IT resources that are familiar with the cloud service providers (CSPs) services, tools and APIs
- Architecting a cloud-based data protection and business continuity strategy
- Integration between existing datasets and public cloud services — user access, data integration, networking and security
- Ensuring governance, availability and compliance
- Runtime management of cloud resources
Step 1: Defining Your Cloud Strategy
For these reasons, it’s important that an organization build out a cloud strategy document upfront that provides program details for its prioritized cloud initiatives, including key success imperatives, definition and scope, milestones, and named stakeholders.
A well thought out cloud strategy document should clearly define the organization’s cloud priorities. This should include prioritized business objectives for cloud integration. These business objectives should directly map to the key success imperatives (KSI) of the cloud roadmap.
For example, if a business objective is to “improve the customer digital experience during high volume periods,” we would map that to a KSI based on server elasticity in the cloud to quickly ramp-up or ramp-down services based on consumption.
Typically, we will identify five KSIs as part of the development of a strategy document, but the number and complexity of success imperatives can vary based on the size of the organization and their maturity.
Step 2: Developing a Risk Framework and Center of Excellence
Other priorities might include activities like the establishment of a cloud Governance / Risk / Compliance (GRC) framework and/or a Cloud Center of Excellence to drive adoption and mature cloud skills and processes within the organization.
Generally, a GRC framework for the cloud should be established to keep risk at acceptable levels, maintain availability to systems and services and comply with relevant laws and regulation. In general, GRC is not normally a “net-new” function for the cloud. Existing GRC sponsors within an organization should therefore fully understand the implications that the cloud has for their areas and extend existing practices.
Conversely, a Cloud Center of Excellence (CoE) is usually a brand-new endeavor for most organizations but a necessary platform for skilling teams, empowering leaders and defining new cloud processes. The CoE typically includes stakeholders from across the organization including IT, HR, Legal, Finance, Risk Management and is led by an Executive Sponsor.
The core purpose of a CoE is to identify skill gaps and to transform the organization from a current state where learning, recruiting and culture are not enablers of cloud innovation and collaboration, to a future state in which learning, recruiting and culture help to drive innovative thinking and collaboration in the cloud.
Step 3: Introducing a Cloud Adoption Plan
Once the priorities have been established and agreed upon, we begin to develop a high-level cloud adoption plan for the organization.
This begins with developing baseline architectures and gathering technical, security and governance data. We also determine the technical and security integration requirements and begin to build that into evaluation criteria for budget planning and, if necessary, cloud provider selection information.
Once all this information has been curated and processed, the organization will have a very solid foundation for executing a cloud adoption plan.
By building out a cloud strategy early in the program cycle, including key success imperatives, definition and scope, milestones, and named stakeholders, an organization will have clear directives with strong executive buy-in.
All these factors greatly increase the probability of a successful journey into the cloud.