Many corporations simply do not have a cloud strategy (or it is immature or outdated) which cause them to achieve less than those with a good strategy.
In this note, I've looked at some of the basics of cloud strategy to be considered.
Let’s begin with the definition; What is a Cloud Strategy? A cloud strategy is a succinct viewpoint of an Enterprise’s use of cloud technology.
Enterprises with a strategy around the cloud are more likely to obtain greater results from the cloud than otherwise it because of more consistent approaches to cloud utilization.
Plenty of the major cloud queries touch on cloud strategy which are getting increasingly critical. Questions like “What exactly is a cloud strategy?”, “Why an Enterprise needs a strategy for cloud?”, “How to establish a detailed Cloud Strategy?” and such queries or concerns about principles, guidelines, frameworks, prioritization, or alignment of cloud strategy with other available enterprise strategies (security or enterprise architecture). If you discover at any point during the Strategizing Cloud journey that this strategy is not facilitating the enterprise's (most likely current) digital transformation program(s), you must hold your horses and investigate what went wrong.
In an ideal circumstance, a strategy should be defined prior to cloud adoption; however, you know that this does not happen very often, particularly in more complex enterprises with various concurrent activities via overlapping programs to fulfill the “wishes” of the cloud adoption (we are talking about some wishes like cost reduction, elasticity, better uptime which usually being presented as “goals” in many presentations and workshops). I see that as an opportunity as well because the organization has some experience with the cloud, however it is highly proposed to create the cloud strategy sooner rather than later. This will assist to eliminate a lot of waste within the enterprise.
Choose a Recipe!
It has been established that if you want to get much more out of the cloud technologies, you must have a cloud strategy and to develop a meaningful strategy, one must examine the options available and the deliberate decisions she make.
The cloud strategy is nothing but the documented related sequence of meaningful decisions.
Look at the Cloud Strategy document as a live document that links business strategy to implementation strategy (or migration strategy) and down to planning. To accomplish this, you will need an abstract model for defining strategy artifacts.
Make a Game Plan!
Like any other paper, a strategy document requires a beautiful narration, and nothing beats providing a high-level summary. Make a section of your document to brief top management on the paper, establish the context (I believe in context setting it is important to clearly indicate that strategy is not only technical document), and demonstrate you had included all the people and businesses in the organization that are relevant to this strategy. Make sure you make a room for the drivers, major activities, challenges, and this sort of items.
Cloud Strategy is not a cloud migration or implementation plan, while it may cover certain "What"s and "Why"s in those areas as well; nevertheless, it (like any other strategy papers) should never step into the specifics of "How" to execute and implementation details.
Set the Touchstone
Then you must begin developing your cloud strategy by identifying criterion for cloud and desired business outcomes. So practically you need to investigate two mentioned areas Technical and Business.
The most important idea here is to agree on terms and definitions and resolve any conflicts or confusion about the cloud definitions. It is as simple as compiling all the definitions and deciding whether to use existing ones (such as NIST) while acknowledging that nothing is perfect. If you need to use much newer cloud terminologies (such as distributed cloud or anything similar) along the way, make sure first you describe the concepts thoroughly. Inventing new terms will not help you! And being eloquent in strategy documents will not get you any extra credit. Having said that, appendix is the best place to elaborate further and expand the concepts around the terms you used across your strategy paper.
It is now time to describe the overall business strategy and elaborate on expected business outcomes. Each enterprise must have a plethora of reports and presentations by senior management, which might be a fantastic starting point. Also, remember to include business transformation programs in the business baseline summary.
List cost/benefit also risks to business. Understand the objectives and clearly express your findings on how cloud technology will aid in achieving those objectives. You should also devote sufficient time to identifying (your) enterprise-specific challenges.
Think It Up!
Many more questions should be asked at this point, including such: What are the requirements for Build vs. Consume? How do you dispel cost narratives? When is the best time to implement a hybrid operating model? What is the mechanism for chargeback? How can hybrid environments be secured, managed, and governed? How do you tell the difference between CAPEX and OPEX? Is becoming a provider a thing for enterprise at all? What are the pricing factors? so on and so forth.
When you're thinking about principles, these kinds of questions are a fantastic starting point for a debate. (In any case, it’s been said that principles are known as the drivers of strategy). As a result, it is advised to document those in your strategy paper in order to improve understanding of the principles.
You may have noticed that the above-mentioned samples of matters fall primarily into two broad categories: finance and service considerations. Let's take a closer look at this.
Consider the Financial Aspect
Engage finance domain experts to assist in understanding the financial implications of cloud technology, which will most certainly result in changes to company financial models. For instance, typically, cloud costs are funded through OPEX; however, converting everything to OPEX may have an impact on the financial profile of the corporation because capital asset ownership is important in many corporate strategies. Another area worth investigating is the costing model and mapping it with the expectations you managed to establish. For example, in which hosting model is a contract required? And, if a contract is required, what are the minimum terms? What are the hidden costs if it is a pay-as-you-go model? and so forth.
Remind yourself establishing financial consequences will not help you make a business case for or against shifting to cloud technologies!
And Service Aspect
Let’s get this with couple of cloud specific samples. As you may be familiar, there are numerous hosting models available, such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. The decision point in your strategy should be clear; When to leverage the services of public cloud providers and when to build cloud capabilities in-house or elsewhere. Your strategy should aid in the differentiation of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS use case scenarios in addition to specifying the instances in which your company will act as a mediator.
If you operate in a hybrid environment (as many large corporations do), ask critical questions regarding the environment's management, security, and governance.
The point I'm trying to make here is that you should give your stakeholders options! Also, clarify the strategic decision regarding the services.
Back to Principles
Earlier briefly I scratched the surface of principles, here we shall focus more on details. Title a part of your cloud strategy paper as Principles or Doctrine (we usually have this section for majority of strategy papers in enterprise architecture space) and in that section, you must be specific about the principles that will govern your cloud approach. It must specifically define the practice's criteria, such as whether it is based on workload or application, or when individuals should lean toward lift and shift cloud migration. Balancing agility and cost savings is another factor to consider at this point.
Along the journey, you must specify vendor orientation, multi-cloud or cloud-native choice criteria, hosting model decision points (for example, declaring that SaaS is the ideal hosting model and why that is), preferred cloud strategy (e.g., Public CSPs is the preferable option for enterprise and give the basis), and so on.
You could say here that there are more architectural principles, which is correct and quite acceptable to address as well. Having those principles in your approach at an early level would assist you to have a stronger exit strategy, which I discussed later in this post.
Harmonizing the Strategies is Up Next!
Cloud strategy should not be an isolated strategy; therefore, you must verify that the strategy you define is aligned with current ones and does not overlap much with them.
It is a must to define the roles and duties, to evaluate compliance and governance, and to explicitly outline the security principles. The objective here is to ensure that existing strategies like as security, data, enterprise architecture, resourcing and so on are mutually in harmony.
What is your Plan B?
We cannot deny that repatriation may occur, despite the fact that it is quite rare (at least, I have no large sample in mind), thus it is extremely crucial to have an exit strategy (as plan B) that elaborates on possibilities, choices, and dependencies at several levels.
Also, enterprises often examine exit options solely from a contract or SLA standpoint, which is good, but there are some other factors to consider, technical ones, such as backup and restore mechanisms and portability.
Include both technical and business aspects in the exit strategy to avoid lock-in situations at many levels, which may range from skillset to data.
There are tens of patterns and template for defining any sort of strategy paper specifically cloud strategy out there. You may want to adopt one or custom tailor one for your enterprise, no matter what, this note here was trying to highlight which sort of information is recommended to be in your paper and what agenda you shall consider. Regarding Cloud Strategy you will find number of beautiful books and other materials which I recommend to get your head around them prior to sketching your strategy.
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