Gartner predicts that more than half of global enterprises that already use cloud today will adopt an all-in, or cloud-first, strategy by 2021. Should you do the same, and if so, where should you begin?
First, it’s important to understand that a cloud-first strategy is a business strategy that aims to reduce IT costs by transitioning to shared (cloud) infrastructure. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business today that hasn’t moved at least some resources to the cloud, but a cloud-first strategy goes further to prioritize and carefully plan for that transition in a forward-thinking manner designed to mitigate risk and optimize value.
In other words, the goal of a cloud-first strategy is to get ahead of the curve and find the best way to take advantage of the enormous benefits of cloud computing.
Three flavors of cloud
Public, private, or hybrid? That’s one of the first questions every cloud-first business must ask itself.
A successful cloud strategy depends on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the three cloud models, as well as identifying the key business factors to consider with each. You can find those details and more in our recent article titled “Cloud Computing: Make the Right Choice for Your Organization.”
In the article, you’ll learn about the specific advantages of each type of cloud model, including:
- Public cloud: If you want the freedom to spin up infrastructure and services when and where you need them, and pay only for what you need, the public cloud might be right for your business.
- Private cloud: If your goal is to take your existing data center to new levels of automation and efficiency, and run production workloads with a high degree of control and security, a private cloud is a smart choice.
- Hybrid cloud: A true hybrid cloud isn’t just a multi-cloud mix of private and public cloud solutions. Rather, it is one centrally managed environment that is ideal for businesses that want to move workloads from one cloud to another with ease for optimal performance and efficiency.
Three Key Considerations
Once you have a full understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud models available, you can take the next step and begin developing a cloud-first strategy based on your specific enterprise needs and requirements. When taking the next step, keep in mind these three considerations.
Existing IT Environment: To develop your strategy, you will want to take a hard look at your existing IT environment. What parts of the environment work well and might be leveraged as part of a private or hybrid cloud deployment? Do you have licensing concerns? Do you have other dependencies that may affect your cloud deployment?
In-house Expertise and Skillsets: It is also important to examine your in-house expertise and assess whether your move to the cloud will require a little or a lot of outside assistance. If you will need help, it is critical to identify proven, enterprise-focused providers. They can free your internal IT staff to focus on other responsibilities—or work with them to plan for a successful migration that will mitigate or eliminate downtime and user disruptions.
Budget and Costs: As part of developing your cloud-first strategy, you will want to take a close look at your capital and operational costs and consider how you would like to rebalance them in the future. To keep future costs down, be sure to look for server, storage and network technologies that are controlled with software-defined techniques and that will give you the flexibility to meet both normal and unexpected demands. Open source solutions are an excellent choice to free you from the high costs and vendor lock-in often associated with proprietary alternatives—and give you the flexibility to meet whatever challenges and opportunities the future brings.
For more detailed information on the three cloud options and how to decide which will be best for your cloud-first business, read “Cloud Computing: Make the Right Choice for Your Organization.”
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