IT Focus Area: Cloud
March 29, 2017
10 Keys to Improving Your Cloud Strategy
Moving to cloud without the right strategy won’t bring your business value — it could even put your company at risk.
According to RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, cloud users underestimate the amount of wasted cloud spend. Respondents estimate 30 percent waste, while RightScale has measured actual waste between 30 and 45 percent.
Don’t throw away your shot with your cloud spend.
Here are ten keys to developing and executing a successful cloud strategy for your enterprise, including insights from cloud experts from Red Hat, Intel, VMware, Oracle and Microsoft. For an in-depth discussion of cloud strategy, please download this free guide: Transform Your Business with Cloud.
1. Define "Cloud"
From: What is Cloud?
“Cloud” means different things to different people.
With so many definitions, it’s important to define what the word “cloud” means to different people within your enterprise. Get clear on what commonly used terms such as “public” and “private” mean within your company. Once you have a set of clear definitions, you’ll likely need to educate others to get everyone on the same page.
2. Don't Put the Cart Before the Horse
The first question you should ask at your company is, “What are we trying to accomplish with cloud?” Too many organizations start investigating cloud options before identifying desired business outcomes.
1. Match options to business outcome. Most likely, you are aiming for a hybrid model because it provides many options and different options for different workloads.
2. Accept that organizational impact will occur. By being cognizant of this and planning for it, you are likely to manage organizational change and avoid unnecessary churn and spending.
3. Prevent biting off more than you can chew at one time. Plan the pieces in discrete chunks. Focus on minimum viable product.
3. Practice Patience with a Capital "P"
When first approaching cloud, many organizations think of “lifting and shifting” their virtual machines and leveraging Infrastructure-as-a-Service. While this approach reduces your overall migration time and gets you to cloud quickly, it could also inflate cost and miss key benefits of cloud.
Take the time to understand your cloud platforms and make informed decisions on your designs upfront. Low-hanging fruits, such as resizing services or using native cloud features rather than a third party, could dramatically impact your initial cost and performance. The more time you spend planning and understanding the platform upfront, the better your experience will be.
4. Gain Control of Your Cloud Costs
While moving to the cloud can bring you a number of business benefits, it may cost more than you had planned.
These unexpected costs may include connectivity, customizations, security, upgrades and disaster recovery. Many of these costs stem from a lack of a cloud strategy.
The key to benefiting from the hybrid cloud — without driving up your costs — is to go in with a plan. You need a defined cloud strategy and an understanding of all your cloud costs before you migrate.
5. Appoint a Cloud Architect
Successful organizations appoint a cloud architect to oversee their cloud transformation.
The cloud architect builds a multi-disciplinary team with skills in areas such as virtualization, security, networking, storage, data management, application architecture, and enterprise management. The team makes joint decisions on new standards and architectural models.
The cloud architect and team are charged with moving the business forward. If other teams don’t get on board, the cloud team will refuse to let legacy architectures and dated mindsets hold the business back.
6. But Don't Reinvent the Wheel - Keep It Simple
Many enterprises make cloud more complicated than it needs to be.
To quickly gain benefits from cloud, focus on simplicity. For most businesses, transitioning entirely to cloud won’t be an option for a long time, if ever. When you plan for a transition, recognize that you will have a mix of on-premises and cloud services for many years to come. You don’t need to undertake yet another rip-and-replace cycle. Look for cloud services that integrate easily with your existing IT services and support common technologies both on premises and in cloud.
7. Adopt an open - and open source - mindset.
Transformation doesn’t end when you put a set of components in cloud.
Today’s enterprises face continuous change. To keep pace, you need a continuous innovation engine.
Enterprises that want to innovate can take a cue from open source developers. Open source technology enables continuous innovation, as it is built by a community of developers who are passionate about software development. In an open source community, developers never stop looking for ways to make their software better. They quickly deploy new, innovative features and will hold each other in check through continuous inspection. Their collaborative mindset leads to more effective technologies that are better positioned to evolve with emerging concepts.
8. Don't Treat Cloud as Just Another IT Initiative
Cloud isn’t just something to check off your “to do” list.
Perhaps the biggest myth is that moving to the cloud is “just another IT initiative.” When you move to cloud technologies, think about the long-term, business benefits that you can gain, such as unleashed innovation and faster time to market. Then, you will achieve real, long-lasting results.
9. Build Security in from the Beginning
Organizations in all industries are turning to the cloud as they pursue digital business strategies. Cloud services help to realize benefits that include enhanced productivity, faster time to market, and reduced IT spending. However, failure to ensure security when using these services can detract from these benefits and result in increased costs, data loss, and even brand damage.
Effectively addressing cloud security requires a strategy that carefully considers the service models being used, and includes the appropriate security architecture, controls and policies. With the right approach, organizations can reap the benefits of the cloud without compromising the business.
10. Shift to Data-Centric Security
Securing cloud access is a critical part of a comprehensive data-centric security program. Over the last two years, we’ve been hearing a lot about cloud access security brokers — CASBs.
CASBs are policy enforcement points that sit between an organization's on-premises infrastructure and a cloud provider's infrastructure. They act as gatekeepers, interposing enterprise security policies as cloud-based resources are accessed.