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Developing your Cloud Strategy Post Pandemic

illustration depicting cloud services
illustration depicting cloud services

Research from Gartner predicts that up to 85% of enterprises will adopt a cloud-first computing approach by 2025. Having a robust cloud strategy is vital for success, allowing you to understand your requirements, the risks and the potential ROI.

Recent years have seen a widespread shift to the cloud, with organisations looking to modernise their estate and transition away from traditional on-premises IT. The pandemic has only accelerated the migration to the cloud, with many organisations moving to a remote working model and cloud solutions such as M365. For some businesses, these changed ways of working are predicted to endure even as restrictions ease and traditional office working is permitted to resume.

Research from Gartner predicts that up to 85% of enterprises will adopt a cloud-first computing approach by 2025. But how do we do it? How do we move business capability and data to the cloud and take advantage of the scale, innovation, automation and ultimately business empowerment that it brings? How do we plan, decide and mobilise a further cloud adoption journey?

What’s the trigger?

While many organisations have a strategic imperative to move to the cloud, often there are specific triggers that businesses face that focus the strategy or put a deadline in place. These triggers include:

  • Change of working model (such as we have seen during the pandemic)
  • Data Centres or major systems coming to end of contract or life.
  • New functionality or capability requirements that can't be sourced from in-house or on-premise IT.
  • Major suppliers or vendors migrating to the cloud and offering new "evergreen" capabilities
  • Sourcing staff to maintain older technologies becoming less sustainable, more challenging and costly

Whatever the trigger, organisations must understand (and document) what is driving their cloud adoption as part of a cohesive, continuous improvement strategy that will outline how any migration of business capability and data will impact the business. IT objectives should be aligned with wider business goals for a cloud adoption strategy to generate maximum value for the business and to get the most from your cloud investment.

Developing your Cloud Strategy (in 5 key steps)

Planning is vital when moving to the cloud as it allows you to understand your requirements, the risks and the potential ROI.

1. Engage stakeholders to get buy-in

They need to understand the rationale and benefits of the moves to the cloud. This is the first decision to be get - that the organisation is moving to the cloud and have an overarching strategy and implementation plan.

2. Understand what Cloud capabilities are needed and where are these best sourced

There are multiple cloud providers out there (public and private), and a decision is needed as to where are going. This decision can be based around the Data controls and features you are looking to adopt from the cloud

3. Conduct an options and impact assessment

If possible using a discovery tool if you have one to "right size" the technology. Hopefully you've been maintaining your IT Portfolio data, giving you sufficient information to be knowledgeable about the application, userbase, data, platform, infrastructure and commercial status.

4. Determine the application lifecycle status

Keep, update or retire and assign a migration approach for the application landscape. There are various approaches to this, commonly referring to terms such as 6Rs or 7Rs models. These relate mostly to retire, rehost, re-platform, re-architect or replace with some other subtle variations on a theme.

5. Determine a migration plan

This plan should be based on groupings of apps or infrastructure and should include "Testing the Concept" (i.e. use a representative "live" pilot to flush out the impacts on operations, security, co-existence and skills/knowledge acquisition). Most organisations will have to do this with a partner, as they don't have the requisite skills and need a way to accelerate the process.

Simple, right? It can be tempting to drop everything else your business is doing and transition to a cloud -first strategy right away. However, without going through a detailed planning phase, cloud adoption can be complex, time consuming and costly. Moving to the cloud will need to be funded, sponsored and managed carefully by your management. It will take time to do and effort from existing personnel and, depending on your timelines and resource availability, it may require support from partner organisations. It is important to remember that cloud adoption does not only affect IT. It will be competing against other imperatives in the organisation which impacts resource prioritisation. It will affect your supply chain as well as your IT management's operating model.

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