By its nature, a cloud is elastic, scalable and resilient. But it is not tamper-proof. It certainly is not as reliable as on-prem infrastructure. It could be more secure though.
So how do you futureproof your cloud strategy?
As the use of cloud services continues to grow, enterprise architects and infrastructure & operations (I&O) leaders should use seven key elements to create a pragmatic cloud strategy for their organizations.
“A cloud strategy is critical for every organization and should be a concise point of view on cloud and its role in the organization,” said Raj Bala, senior research director at Gartner. “Moving to cloud without a cloud strategy results in ad hoc adoption patterns, resulting in higher costs, disjointed management, security vulnerabilities and overall dissatisfaction with cloud outcomes.”
Seven elements for creating an enterprise cloud strategy
1. Ensure cloud strategy follows business strategy
Business strategies vary significantly by organizations.
“It is crucial for enterprise architects and I&O leaders ensure their cloud strategy aligns with and actively supports their organization’s business strategy regardless of whether their organization provides consumer services, business services or other products,” said Bala.
2. Assess five types of cloud risk to address security, compliance, and other cloud concerns
When setting a cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders must assess cloud-related risks for the following five types of risk: agility risk; availability risk; security risk; supplier risk; compliance risk. The possible risks must be weighed against the potential benefits in a balanced and compliant manner.
Bala insisted that risk management must be an integral part of any cloud strategy process. “Formulating specific cloud exit strategies before committing to any cloud project or vendor risk management is a key step in reaching balanced cloud deployment decisions,” he added.
3. Question cost reduction as a main driver for cloud adoption
One of the most frequently asked cloud questions by Gartner clients is: “Is the cloud really cheaper?” Answering this requires a nuanced approach, as total cost depends on the type of cloud service and the characteristics of workloads, and on the specific circumstances of the organization.
“As most organizations have gained experience with real cloud implementations, the benefits are more in innovation and speed, rather than cost,” said Bala.
4. Plan potential routes to the cloud
For many organizations, a cloud strategy should plan for various possible routes to the cloud, such as:
- Rehosting is used to move an application with minimal effort. This also means minimal change and therefore minimal benefits, as most of the application aspects stay the same.
- Refactoring is used to take advantage of services such as cloud-managed databases rather than migrating existing databases to the cloud and continuing to internally manage them, but in another place.
- Rebuilding is used to recreate a strategic application with a cloud native architecture that enables the use of elastic scalability and pay-per-use cloud pricing models.
5. Understand the shared responsibility model of the cloud
A fundamental change that cloud computing introduces is the concept of a shared responsibility model.
In cloud, the responsibilities of the provider are defined by the features and capabilities of the cloud service that is being offered. The customer organization’s responsibility is to leverage the capabilities of the cloud service within the organization’s own processes to get the desirable result.
“Cloud customers need to clearly understand what they may reasonably expect from their provider and what is their own responsibility. Also, as skills and experience are essential to responsible use of cloud services, organizations should facilitate training, education and eventually certification of their staff using the cloud services,” explained Bala.
6. Differentiate the approach for the three typical areas of enterprise cloud adoption
Gartner has observed three distinct areas of cloud adoption: adoption of software as a service (SaaS) for rapid access to modern standard functionality; adoption of cloud infrastructure platforms (CIPS) for building unique new functions; and the migration of current and legacy applications.
When formulating their cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders should take a holistic view that addresses the trade-offs they must make between operational control and management. The approach should be evaluated for each application deployed to the cloud.
7. Embrace the changing role of the IT department
Bala noted that no matter what cloud strategy enterprise architects and I&O leaders decide on, the strategy will involve a changing role for their internal IT organization. “Typically, this leads to appointing a cloud architect, establishing a cloud centre of excellence and setting up a cloud service broker group that liaises between business stakeholders and cloud service providers,” he added.
Over time, the IT department may adopt a role with regards to cloud services, comparable to that of the HR department with regards to human resources. “IT could facilitate increasingly digital-savvy business departments to select and leverage the right cloud services,” said he continued.