The business case for cloud services is evolving from the initial fascination with cost saving to a growing recognition of the dramatic role that the cloud can play in supporting the transformation of business. More agile, innovative business models. The recent cloud market forecasts make it easy to see a fundamental shift in how businesses are opening themselves up to cloud, according to this handy list compiled by IDC: Worldwide Cloud IT Infrastructure Revenue Grows 14.5% to $7.7 Billion Q2 2016.
Cloud now accounts for a significant percentage of IT spending as organisations are less resistant to adopt cloud services. Indeed, many are starting to take a cloud-first approach to managing their IT infrastructure.
So how do organisations begin to develop a cloud-first strategy? Gartner offers a pretty comprehensive checklist to help businesses identify what requirements they need to consider and how to set the framework for a successful cloud-first strategy. Some of the key evaluation factors they recommend are:
Business Outcomes and Financials
Understanding the strategic business and financial drivers for a given initiative is key to defining the appropriate sourcing model. Initiatives ought to align to an organization’s overarching strategic goals and associated enterprise architecture guidelines, as well as the organisation’s preferred commercial models, including capital expenditure (CAPEX) versus operating expenditure (OPEX).
A robust inventory of the existing application portfolio should be established to determine potential constraints and establish the right deployment model across bare-metal private, or public cloud.
Moving applications, information and workloads to the cloud also warrants a relook at the operational and business processes. Given that the management model for cloud-based services introduces new tools and capabilities, it becomes essential to revisit and optimise the existing model. Operational readiness and the balance between internal and external duties must be analyzed before the transformation or tested through pilots.
Skills and Capabilities
As always, the skills and capabilities required, already available, as well as the ability to hire, build or enhance those skills within the existing organization (often required by cloud-first initiatives) or across external partners are important considerations for sourcing. Given the rapid growth in cloud-led services, there is already a huge gap in the market around qualified talent with hands-on operational expertise across areas like architecture, design and technical support.
One of the biggest organizational drivers to shift to cloud is to unlock greater agility and improve the velocity of innovation. It is essential to evaluate how the cloud service to be sourced balances freedom and control, enables flexibility and access, and can be seamlessly integrated into the existing operational model and fabric.
Security risks posed by the location and type of data must be assessed by considering how access to the data and identities (i.e.: users, connected devices) will be controlled and protected.
Creating a cloud-first strategy takes considerable effort and expertise and should not be taken on lightly. While many understandably want to get into the cloud sooner rather than later, taking the time to thoroughly plan and walk through all of the proper steps will set your business up for greater success in the long term.