As enterprises have become more adept at managing on-premises resources, they are now focusing on the Cloud. But despite the many advantages of Cloud computing, such as pay-as-you-go pricing, increased agility, and scalability, adopting the Cloud is not a simple lift-and-shift operation. A successful Cloud strategy must consider several factors, including organizational readiness, workload requirements, and security concerns.
According to a recent survey by IBM, 77% of enterprises have adopted a hybrid Cloud approach that drives digital transformation. However, only 27% of the surveyed claim possessing the necessary characteristics to be regarded as advanced in their transformation efforts. For many organizations, the biggest challenge to adopting a Cloud-first strategy is simply getting started. In this article, let’s review how the Cloud strategy is crucial for adoption, what benefits it entails, what challenges can arise, and how the implementation takes place.
Why you need an enterprise cloud strategy
According to Gartner’s Devising an Effective Cloud Strategy report, it’s stated that almost every organization is using Cloud computing. Moreover, there’s an evident Cloud shift as companies move from traditional on-premise IT to Cloud services. In particular, the cloud shift accelerates with a 17% compound annual growth to 2025, as can be seen in the graph.
While a prevailing majority now uses Cloud computing, many still don’t have a clear strategy or an implementation plan. Organizations without an enterprise Cloud strategy can’t utilize services to the fullest extent. The people behind the implementation have to be seasoned with the technical knowledge to design, plan, and implement the strategy for your project. Partnering with a credible service provider can help kick off the project with the maximum ROI. Besides that, a sound strategy will provide your project with the following benefits:
- Providing clarity in planning. Enterprises can struggle with navigating a complex journey of planning, migrating, and operating in a Cloud environment. They are obliged to handle platform modernization and deal with governance, security, and operational processes. This way, a sound strategy provides a roadmap for moving forward on how and when to adopt different services, minimizing implementation risks.
- Optimizing Cloud usage costs. When conducting a Cloud migration with a robust strategy, optimizing the usage costs after implementation is possible. Taking advantage of well-configured Cloud technologies and optimizing idle workloads will reduce usage costs while improving overall performance.
- Improving workload efficiency. Forming a strategy can help your organization be more efficient in resource usage. You can utilize features like autoscaling to ensure you only use the resources you need and when you need them. It allows automatic scaling and adjusting of resources to address sudden spikes in demand without any interruptions and degradation in service quality.
- Scaling your solution. Creating a robust strategy can lay a solid foundation for future scaling. Cloud-based solutions will be ideal for companies with growing or fluctuating bandwidth demands. This way, scalability will minimize the risks associated with in-house development and maintenance. Instead, it provides companies with high-performance resources available at their disposal.
- Going agile. One important thing to consider is that Cloud strategy consulting can help your company be more agile in how you respond to changes. For instance, you can quickly and easily add or remove capacity to meet the changing demands. On the operational level, Cloud experts at N-iX acquire a complex strategy. It involves properly assessing Cloud readiness, developing a roadmap, and establishing governance policies.
Steps of creating a cloud strategy
While a strategy serves as the first step in cloud adoption or migration, it consists of a few steps on its own. Usually, when working with a vendor providing Cloud strategy services, the creation of a sound strategy consists of the following steps:
- Aligning objectives. At first, it’s a must to build a proper understanding of use cases of Cloud adoption across your specific business practices. During this stage, it’s necessary to define a formal Cloud strategic plan to align with your company’s business and IT goals. When partnering with a trusted vendor of Cloud-native services, Cloud specialists work on defining the project’s scope. For instance, experts at N-iX highlight the workloads with the most significant potential gain from the Cloud transformation.
- Assessing the Cloud readiness. Analyzing the current technological environment is the next step of a robust Cloud transformation. Cloud experts will review your server hardware and software, identify any gaps or bottlenecks, and consider what immediate amendments are necessary. If you store data on-premise, a comprehensive strategy’s goal is critically reviewing the project’s infrastructure. Only then it’s required to dive deep into the readiness for Cloud adoption, which requires a thorough assessment of the existing infrastructure.
- Developing a Cloud roadmap. A strategy roadmap is your action plan, which can guide the company through each step of the adoption process. At this stage, it’s usually decided what service providers (AWS, Microsoft, or Google) and business model (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) to choose. A detailed Cloud roadmap should also capitalize on the step-by-step plan, which, in turn, includes testing, ensuring data security, and updating legacy applications.
- Establishing governance. The next necessary step is establishing the governance framework, which is key to mitigating risks and omitting workflow disruption. It includes establishing ownership, responsibilities, and risk acceptance to your organization's members. This step also highlights the need to outline the usage form, significance, and control expectations.
- Growing internal Cloud skills. Your Infrastructure and Operations team must acquire the necessary Cloud skills and competencies. With the growing demand for Cloud services cost optimization, a lack of understanding on the strategic level can curtail the project and inhibit innovation.
Key steps of implementing a cloud strategy
Once the planning stage is over, another question arises: how to implement the Cloud adoption strategy. For this purpose, let’s review the six most crucial steps of strategy implementation.
- Ideation includes a series of workshops to gather information and align with the existing objectives. Some processes include identifying Cloud readiness, aligning the Cloud approach with business goals, determining critical design decisions, and producing estimates. During the ideation phase, the client has to work closely with the vendor to present all their objectives. It’s required to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding further development activities.
- Solution design comprises diving deep into the applications, certifications, and data portfolios. During this step, the crucial processes are defining and validating security, governance, and operational models. The solution design adjusts the Cloud foundation and identifies the technical details of the pilot migration project.
- Pilot migration relies on the execution of the first pilot migrations that are necessary for proper calibration of approach, design, and strategy. It serves as the assessment stage that gathers the required details and prepares for the migration at scale. From a broader perspective, this stage is crucial to assess how the pilot version functions. It eliminates minor mishaps, possibly saving resources that would otherwise be dedicated during the implementation phase.
- Migration at scale involves having a Cloud foundation, platform, processes, and tools ready. After having all the necessary information, it’s now possible to gather insights from the pilot stage and proceed with the solution implementation. More precisely, migration at scale is responsible for incorporating all the previous preparations and getting ready to kick off the project development.
- The operational team is a stage that capitalizes on building and validating the appropriate foundational components. They ensure that these components are scalable, maintained, and closely monitored. This step also involves improving the migration process, adjusting priorities, and establishing a governance structure.
- Post-migration includes the operation, optimization, and improvement of the existing solution in the Cloud. Moreover, necessary amendments can be made to calibrate the Cloud usage needs and react to any external changes, if necessary. Maintenance is a key word here, which should be negotiated beforehand, in case you’ve decided to cooperate with a Cloud services provider.
Challenges in creating a cloud strategy
While the mentioned steps serve as a sound foundation for strategy and migration, a few challenges should be addressed. Some of the most challenging points include the following:
- Failing to implement the existing strategy. For most enterprises, having some form of a multi-Cloud strategy is already a success regarding planning and forecasting. Unfortunately, only a few companies implement the outlined strategy in action. In other words, a robust Cloud adoption strategy should be designed how it can be implemented and not treated as a mere concept. Partnering with a trusted vendor, like N-iX, can solve this challenge and help with the strategy implementation.
- Lack of expertise and talent. Seeking the best Cloud talent is challenging in a highly competitive environment. If your company struggles to retain internal IT talent, proceeding with a from-scratch strategy and migration can become a nightmare. It explains why more companies are looking for strategic and planning services delivered by external Cloud experts. Partnering with a reliable consulting vendor can solve the challenge of insufficient expertise and talent.
- Operational complexity. In the Cloud computing domain, a strategy is an essential step that is part of a broader framework. Enterprises undergoing digital transformation and migration to the Cloud must handle a myriad of procedures at once. Not only do they have to handle platform modernization, but they also deal with security, governance, and other operational processes. For that purpose, adopting a multiphase approach is vital to ensure long-term Cloud success.
- Data security and compliance. Any move to the Cloud can be a compliance risk, regardless of your infrastructure setup. Besides data security concerns, organizations should emphasize compliance with various security standards and industry recognitions. That’s why more companies seek full-stack Cloud services, which consider any security and compliance concerns beforehand. For instance, N-iX partners with AWS, Microsoft, and Google, which signifies the high expertise in developing cloud-based solutions.
- Cloud spend management. Regardless of the size and Cloud maturity, companies should assess the spend management as part of the broader strategy. Planning a thorough Cloud audit to find unused and unattached resources is a part of effective Cloud cost optimization. Companies should consider using the cost-saving tools provided by Cloud providers and forecasts, alongside identifying idle resources. Optimization is critical here, helping to save thousands of dollars after conducting the Cloud migration.
- Governance practices. It’s also worth mentioning that Cloud governance is often regarded as the key to efficient Cloud computing. During the strategy step, it’s vital to map out the responsibility assignment matrix, capitalize automation, minimize resource usage, and clearly outline processes responsible for enforcing compliance. The failure to meet these recommendations can result in increased Cloud costs, resource inconsistency, increased third-party risks, and slow deployment.
Cloud strategy’s digital transformation in action
Lebara is one of Europe’s fastest-growing mobile companies, with 5+ million active users and 1,500+ employees worldwide. This company offers pay-as-you-go mobile SIM cards and related products and services to migrant communities. The client needed to improve their legacy infrastructure and undergo a full-scale digital transformation.
The N-iX Cloud team has mapped out, designed, and implemented a robust Cloud strategy. This partnership allowed to:
- Design and develop a fully-automated CI/CD pipeline by Azure;
- Reduce the infrastructure expenses by 30%;
- Implement the multi-cloud strategy that ensures better flexibility;
- Decrease the loading times;
- Develop a single master data system that enables omnichannel user experience.
Designing and implementing the strategy by the N-iX team has allowed the client to undergo digital transformation, decrease deployment time, and reduce infrastructure expenses.
Designing a cloud strategy for a successful cloud migration
For this project, the N-IX team partnered with OVO Energy, a leading energy technology company. The client is determined to create a world with clean and affordable energy, being the UK’s second-largest energy supplier. OVO Energy had a business challenge of system unification, infrastructure modernization, and process alignment.
The N-iX team has conducted a Product Discovery, followed by re-architecting the Cloud strategy for a subsequent migration, building infrastructure from scratch, and re-platforming the database. As a result of our cooperation, we’ve helped the client to:
- Design a strategy, followed by the Cloud migration to AWS;
- Develop a PoC for the in-house marketing system that gives more control over the customer journey;
- Enhance customer experience and improve performance by 20%.
The entire planning and migration process was divided into several stages, simultaneously allowing OVO Energy to simplify the management and accelerate new feature releases.
Why entrust a cloud strategy to N-iX?
- N-iX is a trustworthy European software development company with 20+ years of experience in custom software development and consulting;
- The company’s team comprises 400+ Cloud experts with expertise in strategy, modernization, adoption, governance, architecture redesign, maintenance, and infrastructure setup solutions;
- The Cloud team at N-iX has 150+ certified Cloud experts recognized by industry leaders, including AWS, Microsoft, and Google;
- The company’s Cloud portfolio has projects for global enterprises, such as OVO Energy, Gogo, Lebara, AVL, CurrencyCloud, and dozens of Fortune 500 companies;
- N-iX has been recognized by CRN among the leading solutions providers in North America, as proven by Solution Provider 500 and CRN Fast Growth 150 ratings;
- N-iX is a certified AWS Advanced Consulting Partner. Also, the company has a Microsoft Gold Cloud Platform Competency, alongside a Partner Level status in the Google Cloud Partner Advantage Program;
- The company complies with industry regulations and standards, including ISO27001, ISO9001, ISO 27001:2013, PCI/DSS, and GDPR.