In today’s digital world, performance and agility are essential for running a successful business, and in the technology arena, there is no exception. Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the use of cloud computing technology as more companies prefer scalability of resources, flexibility in experimenting with new technologies, reducing cost by eliminating the need to invest in on-premises hardware, etc.
Although cloud computing comes with a plethora of advantages that help grow your business, it is easy to get lost in its vast number of products and feature updates and difficult to figure out the right ones for your business. To tackle such a dynamic place, you need a detailed and effective cloud strategy that will help keep your cloud costs down and help you figure out the right cloud tools for your business.
Throughout this article, we will understand, in detail, what a cloud strategy is. We will discuss the importance and the challenges that come with it. Lastly, we will also discuss the steps to create a successful cloud strategy so that it can help you create one for your own business. Let’s get started.
Cloud strategy is a comprehensive plan that gives an outline of how you can plan the transition, use certain tools and services, and follow the best practices while adopting a cloud solution to achieve your business goals and objectives. A proper cloud strategy helps a business optimize its cloud adoption and smoothen its operation.
You can create a cloud strategy with most types of cloud deployments, be it public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud. A well-defined cloud strategy helps you get the most from your cloud journey because of the fact that the cloud solution requirements for every company vary based on their needs. While providing a laid-out path to leverage the benefits of cloud computing, it also saves your business from unwanted costs and pitfalls throughout the cloud journey.
With the ever-increasing competition in the technology market, there is a huge surge among businesses looking to adopt a cloud-first strategy for maximizing the benefits of cloud adoption. The increased use of AI and machine learning is prompting businesses to extend their technologies and create scalable applications deployable in a cloud environment. Here are a few reasons why you need a cloud strategy for your organization:
A well-structured and defined cloud strategy ensures that you meet all your business requirements, goals, and objectives with the adoption of cloud computing technology. It aligns with your needs and helps you understand how cloud computing can contribute to achieving your business goals, such as reduction of costs, agility, competitiveness, etc.
Cloud strategy provides an outline that enables you to leverage the cutting-edge technologies provided by cloud services to help grow your business. Cloud adoption fosters innovation by allowing agile development and application deployment. It also helps in reducing your costs by implementing a pay-per-use model. This means that you will only pay for the resources that you will use, and you don’t have to make any unnecessary payments for underutilized infrastructure. Also, cloud technology gives you the freedom to scale your resources according to your business needs, hence optimizing your business costs.
A proper cloud strategy helps a business manage its resources effectively. Optimization of resource usage includes automation, monitoring, and resource allocation based on demands. On the other hand, cloud adoption provides you with a range of disaster recovery and backup options. Cloud strategy helps in giving an idea of how you can use these capabilities and continue your operations without disruption in time of a disaster.
A perfectly executed cloud strategy will enable an organization to adapt quickly to market changes. It will also help experiment with new and emerging technologies improving customer experience. All these will help your business gain a competitive advantage over the rest.
Creating a successful cloud strategy involves a lot of steps. Here are seven important steps you should keep in mind while creating a cloud strategy for your organization:
While creating a cloud strategy, the first step will be to identify the broader future goals of your business and how cloud adoption can help you achieve those. A detailed analysis will be essential to determine which of your applications can be optimized by using the cloud. Also, identifying the key stakeholders and their requirements, like customer demands, industry, location factors, etc., can help you map a cloud strategy to your liking.
Forming a cloud strategy needs an evaluation of your existing IT strategy. This can include the management of your IT infrastructure, applications, and data. For example, applications with heavy workloads can be moved to the cloud whereas high security applications can stay on-premise. A cloud strategy will also consider the sensitivity of your application data, compliance requirements, and how ready your system is to be integrated with the cloud.
To prepare a cloud strategy, you need a proper understanding of the cloud service and deployment models. There are three cloud service models:
- IaaS or Infrastructure-as-a-Service, which provides you with virtualized computing resources over the internet on a pay-as-you-go basis, eliminating the need to maintain physical hardware and infrastructure,
- PaaS or Platform-as-a-Service, which offers software, hardware, and infrastructure and lets you develop and manage applications easily and
- SaaS or Software-as-a-Service, which lets you use cloud-based applications over the Internet on a subscription model.
You need to determine which cloud service model will fit your business model and align with your objective and resources. Apart from this, you have to select an appropriate cloud deployment model while keeping the security and scalability requirements of your organization in mind.
Cloud deployment models consist of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud, and you have to choose the one that works best for your business.
Public cloud can be best used if you want to host web applications, websites, and web services. It also helps in developing and staging applications. Also, you can use it if you have an unpredictable demand for resources of workloads, and the scaling of those resources is based on that.
Similarly, if you want to protect sensitive data and need more privacy, you can use a private cloud. It allows you to tailor the cloud environment according to your needs and provides you with enhanced disaster recovery and predictable performance.
But, if you want to use a combination of both public and private clouds for your organization, then hybrid cloud or multi-cloud strategies will be best for your business.
While developing a cloud strategy, you have to consider security as one of the most important steps. A proper compliance strategy and comprehensive security for the cloud are essential before the migration. Your security arrangements should directly comply with the compliance requirements and provide data encryption and access controls.
It should also adhere to the relevant regulations applicable to your business. Depending on your cloud service and deployment model, you have to look out for any specific security consideration that suits the best for your business.
Developing a cloud strategy requires a budget, and optimizing that using best practices is essential for keeping the cloud costs down to an extent. You can use certain monitoring tools that can help reduce downtime for your application, which in turn will regulate your overall spending. Implementing important and effective policies can also control your spending in the cloud. A cloud cost strategy like keeping reserve instances, which will make your system fault tolerant, will help in cost savings.
In your cloud strategy, migration of your existing application workload and data will play a vital role. A proper plan is required, and you should prioritize the applications and existing workloads that need migration. It should be done in a schedule consisting of a timeline using tools and technologies that will ease the transition. Additionally, rigorous and thorough testing of the migration process is required.
After completion of migration, effective cloud management, like monitoring of resources, application performance optimization, regular security updates, etc., is necessary.
Moving to the cloud is not just a technological shift but also a cultural one. Invest in training programs to familiarize your team with cloud tools and best practices. Address any resistance to change proactively to ensure a smooth transition.
Cloud governance mechanisms and policies are essential for a successful cloud strategy. They help in keeping track of whether resources are being used in accordance with the future objectives of your business. Proper governance mechanisms include the division of roles and responsibilities among teams, access controls, and policies to allocate and de-provision resources based on needs.
Cloud is dynamic like weather and, hence, evolves at a rapid pace. You have to make sure that your cloud strategy is up-to-date with the latest cloud technologies. Performance monitoring, review of costs, and security policies are highly required to adjust your cloud strategy.
Adoption of cloud technology with the help of a cloud strategy is not an easy task and it is filled with a series of challenges. Here are a few of them:
Moving to the cloud always provides a security and compliance risk. Data protection and ensuring its safety must be a top priority on your list of actions. Encryptions should be used along with vast access control and identity and access management solutions to authenticate and define roles.
Compliance can be at risk if you fail to meet regulatory requirements and standards. Meeting regulatory requirements like HIPAA, GDPR, or other industry-specific standards is complex. However, complying with these standards is essential for cloud operations.
Cloud strategy brings cloud cost management as one of the main challenges for an organization planning to migrate to the cloud. The uncontrolled cost of the cloud can cripple an organization because it can easily get out of hand. Monitoring of cloud practices and proper cost management is highly essential to prevent that. Best practices relating to the optimization of costs, along with continuous monitoring of cloud usage, are a must.
Operating in the cloud can produce latency that can hinder the smooth performance of real-time applications and data transfers. This is another major challenge in creating a cloud strategy. To prevent this, proper allocation of resources along with the optimization of cloud-hosted applications is required.
Your organization may undergo a culture change while you are transitioning to the cloud. Cloud involves different ways of working, which can be met with resistance within the organization. This can happen because the staff of the organization may have little to no experience with cloud computing technology. Hiring talents who are knowledgeable in the cloud and retaining them will pour a solution to this problem.
If you create a cloud strategy involving a single cloud provider, there is a high chance you will face vendor lock-in as a challenge. This will create problems for you if you want to switch to a different cloud provider in the future. Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies will help mitigate this problem.
As we have previously discussed, monitoring stands as one of the main pillars in forming a cloud strategy. It ensures the consistent performance and availability of applications and services, which is crucial for maintaining user satisfaction and trust. Monitoring can also provide early detection of potential issues, allowing for proactive troubleshooting before they escalate into more significant problems or outages. Additionally, it aids in optimizing resource utilization, ensuring that you're not over-provisioning or under-utilizing resources, which can lead to cost savings.
Key metrics to monitor include CPU usage, memory consumption, network bandwidth, storage I/O, and application performance metrics, etc.
Although cloud providers like AWS provide monitoring tools like Cloudwatch, it is limited to monitoring things inside AWS. If you’re using multi-cloud or want better monitoring capabilities, you would need a robust monitoring tool. SigNoz is an open-source observability tool that you can use for monitoring your cloud services. It provides metrics, traces, and logs under a single pane of glass and can be a one-stop observability solution.
Suppose you are modernizing your IT project and decided your existing workflows to be converted to AWS Software-as-a-Service tools. In that case, you need to form a proper strategy for how you will be able to make the transition to the cloud, which is called cloud strategy. This can include scouting the AWS environments, studying their deployment models and offered services, etc.
In this article, we have discussed 8 steps with which you can develop a cloud strategy. The above-discussed steps can be a guiding form to develop a well-executed cloud strategy.
The purpose of a cloud strategy is to form a proper plan or mechanism that helps an organization have a smooth migration to the cloud. This plan includes gaining knowledge on cloud models to make optimization strategies and security best practices to reduce costs and ensure data and infrastructural safety, respectively.