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What is a strategy?

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“a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim”. A Strategy involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilising limited resources to execute the actions.
A good Cloud Strategy is…

  • Specific
  • Timely
  • Prioritised
  • Actionable
  • Tailored

Note – A strategy is different to organisations requirements, which can change over a period of time.
Best practice is to define your strategy is to maximise the benefits you achieve.
The following items can be considered when creating your cloud strategy (Source: NetApp Research recommendation)

  • Categorisation of your workloads: Strategic vs Operational (goals may change over time)
  • Determine which cloud type fits the workload: Type of cloud will be most efficient and cost-effective for delivering that workload (public, private & hybrid)
  • Prioritise workloads for initial projects: Non-critical applications/smaller workloads

Benefits of a Having Cloud Strategy

An enterprise-wide cloud strategy provides a structured way to incorporate cloud services into the IT mix. It helps make sure that all stakeholders have a say in how, when, and where cloud adoption occurs. It can also offer advantages that you may not have considered. Below are some of the typical benefits (source: NetApp research).

  • Maximise the business benefits of the cloud. cutting costs, improving efficiency, increasing agility, and so on—and those benefits increase when there is a clear cloud strategy in place.
  • Uncover business benefits you might otherwise miss. One frequently overlooked advantage of the cloud is the ability to accelerate innovation. By moving certain functions to the cloud, IT can speed up the process of building, testing, and refining new applications—so teams can explore more ideas, see what works and what doesn’t, and get innovative products and services to market faster.
  • Prepare the infrastructure you’ll need. A well-thought-out cloud strategy provides an opportunity to consider some of the infrastructure needs of the cloud model up front rather than as an afterthought.
  • Retain control in an era of on-demand cloud services. An enterprise-wide cloud strategy can help your business maintain control of how cloud services are purchased and used so that enterprise governance policies and standards can be managed and enforced.

How to avoid a cloud strategy that fails

  • It’s a way to save money: The danger here is that cloud computing is not always cheaper. Services that can be effectively outsourced to “the cloud” to save money are often highly standardised commodity services that have varied demand for infrastructure over time. Cloud computing can save money, but only for the right services.
  • It’s a way to renovate enterprise IT: Not everything requires speed of deployment, or rapid scaling up or down. Some services require significant and unique enterprise differentiation and customisation.
  • It’s a way to innovate and experiment: Cloud computing makes it extremely easy to get started and to pilot new services. The challenge for enterprises is to enable innovation and experimentation, but to have a feasible path from pilots to production, and operational industrialisation.

Source: Forbes.com
In summary, cloud computing does not have a single value proposition for all enterprises and all services.
Recommendation: A cloud computing strategy should include these three approaches,

  1. Define a high-level business case
  2. Define core requirements
  3. Define core technology

and organisations must probe where they can benefit from cloud in various ways.
This will help drive enterprise IT to a new core competency, away from solely being a provider of services, and toward being both a provider and a broker of services delivered in a variety of ways for a variety of business values (Hybrid IT)

Sample cloud decision framework

simple decision framework- cloud.jpg

Summary

Make you cloud strategy a Business Priority. The benefits are real, but don’t make your move to the cloud until you’ve made a serious commitment to creating an enterprise-wide cloud strategy. The time you take to formalise your strategy will pay off in higher cost savings, better efficiency, more agility, and higher levels of innovation.
Research shows that companies with an enterprise-wide cloud strategy are far more successful at using the cloud to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase business agility than companies without such a strategy.
I hope you find the above information is useful.

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