The importance of having a cloud strategy

Cloud technology is the key to digital transformation. It has become the foundation for organisations of all sizes to develop, differentiate and gain a competitive edge.

Cloud can help your organisation connect with your people, your customers and service users, your data and your processes in new ways, and embrace the possibilities enabled by modern technology.

Chances are, if you haven’t yet moved over to the cloud or developed a cloud-first strategy, you will already be at a competitive disadvantage.

Creating a cloud strategy for your organisation will help align your ICT and business planning activities into a cohesive document that will inform and guide the adoption of cloud services.

It should be a high-level analysis of which cloud technologies your organisation should prioritise, along with guidance to lower the risks associated with their adoption.

In this blog, we take a closer look at the importance of having a cloud strategy.

 

The benefits of having a cloud strategy

Implementing a cloud strategy across your organisation can bring many benefits. 

Firstly, it will enable your organisation to focus more on its overall strategic vision and spend less time putting out fires.

Moving to cloud technology and automating many of your systems and processes will free up your organisation’s ICT team. This will enable them to focus on achieving your organisation’s objectives, including increasing productivity and efficiency, reducing security risks and integrating systems to reduce data duplication.

It will also enable you to save money on purchasing, securing, locating and maintaining in-house systems. A significant benefit of moving to the cloud is that its underlying hardware and software are continuously updated or upgraded. So, your organisation will always have access to the latest applications and tech.

It can help you deploy your products and services quicker by designing, creating and testing them in the cloud. It means you can fail and move on quickly at minimal cost and keep trying until you get things right.

In terms of budgeting, the cloud can help you streamline your monthly billing. If you have several ICT vendor relationships, keeping track of which service providers you work with and what they do can be challenging.

This is particularly true for a CapEx purchase model, where you have a large upfront purchase followed by further annual maintenance payments. In this scenario, managing the renewal costs into an overall spend programme when you have potentially hundreds of different renewal dates can be tricky. This problem is significantly reduced by moving to cloud. You can consolidate most of your agreements into a single contract, helping to reduce spend and keep better track of renewals.

Cloud can also help improve your organisation’s ICT security without the capital spend you would typically require for on-premise ICT provision.

Most physical data centres have security systems that are both costly and take valuable time and resources to monitor and maintain.

Cloud networks have industry-standard security built-in, helping to keep your systems safe without having to dedicate the monitoring or staff resources that a physical system requires.

Other benefits of utilising cloud technology include:

  • Faster access to infrastructure
  • Greater scalability
  • Higher availability
  • Improved business continuity
  • Greater ICT efficiency
  • Move from CapEx to OpEx
  • Greater cost savings

 

How to plan a cloud strategy

Migrating to the cloud can be a huge undertaking, regardless of the size of your organisation.

However, the benefits it can bring can far outweigh any of the drawbacks.

When it comes to planning a cloud strategy, there are several key things your organisation must consider, such as whether you are looking for…

 

  • Simple or complex applications
  • Mass migration or targeted apps
  • Legacy systems or new solutions
  • ‘Lift and shift’ or cloud-native software and applications

 

Using the cloud to bring about digital transformation is a step change from traditional IT outsourcing.

While many larger organisations are shifting towards a ‘cloud first’ strategy, start-ups and SMEs have utilised a cloud-first approach for much longer and have proven its benefits.

There are several cloud options available, including public, private, hybrid or community cloud.

All offer flexible, scalable Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions without the enormous start-up costs or technical expertise required to run and maintain on-premise ICT architecture.

However, most organisations with a cloud-first strategy will opt for SaaS, removing the need to build their own infrastructure, manage their own platforms and develop their own applications.

Those which want to develop their own apps can choose PaaS, while those which want to build apps and manage platforms can opt for IaaS.

Cost can also affect choice of platform. Sometimes, SaaS options can be more expensive than PaaS or IaaS options, depending on the pricing model chosen by the vendor.

Anecdotally, this seems to be particularly true for traditional software products with a SaaS offering. Because they already have you on board on-premise, they deliberately do not support their on-premise software in cloud, leaving you the only option of moving to their expensive SaaS offering. In this instance, it can be worth looking at competitors and bearing the pain of moving.

So, understanding your level of adoption is an essential first step, and this will depend on your organisation, its risk appetite, and the speed at which it wants to move to the cloud.

There’s also a need to recognise the importance of building a ‘centre of excellence’ for larger organisations to ensure the right skills exist in-house as part of the initial cloud set up.

Before you commit to the move, you’ll need to gain a full understanding of your existing ICT environment. This should include your physical infrastructure and hardware, and software and applications you already own and how much they cost, from both a budgetary and a resource point of view.

Once you know how much your ICT provision costs, you can start to build a business case for moving to the cloud by identifying any potential cost savings you could make, but also the financial implications of not investing in cloud technology.

To successfully plan and implement your cloud strategy, you’ll need to identify the individuals in your organisation who will be responsible for moving to the cloud, understand their roles and responsibilities, and enlist the support of your executive management team and Board.

Your organisation’s key decision-makers must be clear about your cloud strategy’s benefits, the objectives you are trying to achieve, and how the type of cloud deployment you use will bring this about.

As we said earlier, choosing the right cloud service provider is essential. Your desired level of adoption and appetite for risk will go a long way toward deciding whether to adopt a SaaS, PaaS or IaaS service model.

Many organisations opt for a blended model including the possibility of retaining some on-premise elements so they have a safe home outside their main cloud provider. The choice is most likely to be determined per application. It’s also worth taking other aspects, such as licence requirements, service level agreements, security and compliance, customer service, and vendor terms and conditions, into consideration.

 

If you enjoyed this blog and want to find out more about how we can help your organisation develop an effective cloud strategy and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588.

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