At the onset of 2018 are you planning to use cloud? Are you planning to go all in on the public cloud? Or are you thinking of a multi-cloud strategy? In its ‘Align Your Cloud Infrastructure to Your Business Strategy in Four Steps...or Fail’ report, Gartner cautions that “Unless your cloud infrastructure is properly aligned to the long-term business strategy, it will ultimately waste resources and place your organization at risk. Infrastructure and operations leaders responsible for the cloud need to optimize their functionality to drive successful business outcomes.”1 We believe that if you have been interacting with your peers from the industry you likely have heard something similar in the last few months.
Gartner suggests following four proven steps to leverage cloud more effectively. These key steps would help you avoid the common mistakes and make cloud adoption more useful. Gartner report adds “Failure will lead to a loss of relevancy, and a reduced perception of value, resulting in diminished participation in future planning and adoption of cloud. In turn, this will result in reduced governance and oversight, which can further increase the risk of failure.”1
It is very important for global organizations, smaller business units or rapidly growing companies to define what they mean by cloud infrastructure. As the report mentions, “Although seemingly obvious, a key first step is gaining consensus on the various approaches to cloud infrastructure, which will reduce confusion and misconception.”1 We believe for your organization, this may be a highly virtualized environment with more efficient orchestration. Or maybe it’s defined by number of SaaS services you consume. You need to define it at the business unit level and your company level.
You can also define your cloud strategy by the use cases you want to use cloud for. Do you want to push the development and testing out on public cloud to leverage its flexibility and low cost? Or would you move critical workloads to public cloud to scale rapidly and provide an uncompromised service globally? We believe you need to consider the data sensitivity, data gravity and compliance requirements that you might have. Some customers have mentioned not having right skills within their company as a big challenge. To overcome all these doubts and challenges you can start small, learn and then scale.
When planning to move workloads to public clouds, CloudHealth provides you with a powerful migration assessment capability within the platform. Once you have identified the workloads you want to migrate, the CloudHealth platform provides you a quick summary in terms of cost savings, and rightsized infrastructure targets.
It is very important to align your cloud strategy to the overall business benefits you want to provide and also to the broader IT strategy. Simply deploying a hybrid cloud will not provide you cost savings unless you couple it to the what your business wants. Is it better applications for internal and external customers? Or is it better return on investments and bottomline that you desire? Faster service delivery? You should keep those in mind while defining your cloud strategy.
We suggest that to align cloud strategy with the IT and business strategies you need to coordinate with multiple stakeholders like Finance, C-suite, Operations, IT, etc. This helps you get the necessary buy-in from key decision makers in advance. Gartner report further states that “In order to balance quick wins against longer-term objectives, a bimodal approach will likely be required. This will help reduce likelihood of failure, improve effective communication/ reduce obstacles and facilitate selection and use of cloud infrastructure, where appropriate.”1 Thus, starting with smaller proof of concepts will help you pave the path for long term wins across your organization.
Now that you have got the required buy-in and determined the small projects that you want to start with, it is very important to do a gap assessment. Any strategic initiative should include understanding of where you stand and how to get to the desired end state. Gartner report uses a simple chart to explain this further.
With this method you can highlight the milestones you need to reach so that you realize your broader cloud strategy without major hiccups. However, as you progress with your implementation, you might need to reevaluate course correct, if necessary. You need to focus on the components like Architecture, People, Governance, Sourcing and Culture of your organization to ensure effective implementation of your cloud strategy. This Gartner report further states “When finally looking at the technological solutions, ensure that the target state will solve one or more business problems.”1 So while assessing solutions and vendors, keep in mind:
Once the strategy is in place, it becomes imperative to start planning for operational milestones to reduce risk and have better alignment to the overall organizational strategy. Gartner classifies the operational plans in two sections as below.
Once the operational plan is understood better, you should develop a cloud adoption framework. The suggested Gartner framework is shown below.
This can provide you with one way of proceeding with cloud adoption. To summarize, we at CloudHealth believe that cloud is not a destination, but it is a journey through which you can reap planned benefits. However, that is possible only when you have a well-defined strategy, identify underlying gaps and a plan in place to overcome these gaps. For many organizations, it is a new beginning and it might seem overwhelming. I would highly recommend leveraging consultants who can help you define the cloud strategy from their past experience. Plus, keep in mind that this is an iterative process and you need buy-in from all stakeholders before you venture out. Plan well and start with low hanging fruits and reach your end goal with certainty!
Read the full Gartner report, “Align Your Cloud Infrastructure to Your Business Strategy in Four Steps...or Fail” here.
1Source: Align Your Cloud Infrastructure to Your Business Strategy in Four Steps...or Fail, Michael Warrilow, Bob Gill, 22 September 2017