As the use of cloud services continues to grow, enterprise architects and infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should use seven key elements to create a pragmatic cloud strategy for their organizations.
“A cloud strategy is critical for every organization and should be a concise point of view on cloud and its role in the organization,” said Raj Bala, senior research director at Gartner, Inc. “Moving to cloud without a cloud strategy results in ad hoc adoption patterns, resulting in higher costs, disjointed management, security vulnerabilities, and overall dissatisfaction with cloud outcomes.”
Analysts shared the seven key elements for formulating a pragmatic cloud strategy during the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference 2020, taking place virtually last December.
Business strategies vary significantly by organization. “It is crucial for enterprise architects and I&O leaders ensure their cloud strategy aligns with and actively supports their organization’s business strategy regardless of whether their organization provides consumer services, business services or other products,” said Bala.
When setting a cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders must assess cloud-related risks for the following five types of risk: agility risk; availability risk; security risk; supplier risk; compliance risk. The possible risks must be weighed against the potential benefits in a balanced and compliant manner.
“Risk management must be an integral part of any cloud strategy process,” said Bala. “Formulating specific cloud exit strategies before committing to any cloud project or vendor risk management is a key step in reaching balanced cloud deployment decisions.”
One of the most frequently asked cloud questions is: “Is the cloud really cheaper?”
Answering this requires a nuanced approach, as total cost depends on the type of cloud service, the characteristics of workloads, and on the specific circumstances of the organization.
“As most organizations have gained experience with real cloud implementations, the benefits are more in innovation and speed, rather than cost,” said Bala.
For many organizations, a cloud strategy should plan for various possible routes to the cloud, such as:
A fundamental change that cloud computing introduces is the concept of a shared responsibility model.
In cloud, the responsibilities of the provider are defined by the features and capabilities of the cloud service that is being offered. The customer organization’s responsibility is to leverage the capabilities of the cloud service within the organization’s own processes to get the desirable result.
“Cloud customers need to clearly understand what they may reasonably expect from their provider and what is their own responsibility. Also, as skills and experience are essential to responsible use of cloud services, organizations should facilitate training, education, and eventually certification of their staff using the cloud services,” said Bala.
Three distinct areas of cloud adoption include: adoption of software as a service (SaaS) for rapid access to modern standard functionality; adoption of cloud infrastructure platforms (CIPS) for building unique new functions; and the migration of current and legacy applications.
When formulating their cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders should take a holistic view that addresses the trade-offs they must make between operational control and management. The approach should be evaluated for each application deployed to the cloud.
“No matter what cloud strategy enterprise architects and I&O leaders decide on, the strategy will involve a changing role for their internal IT organization,” said Bala. “Typically, this leads to appointing a cloud architect, establishing a cloud center of excellence, and setting up a cloud service broker group that liaises between business stakeholders and cloud service providers.”
Over time, the IT department may adopt a role in regard to cloud services, comparable to that of the HR department in regard to human resources. “IT could facilitate increasingly digital-savvy business departments to select and leverage the right cloud services,” said Bala.