Why cloud? Why now? Establishing a strong cloud strategy - The EE

Why cloud? Why now? Establishing a strong cloud strategy

New and exciting technologies to enhance our enterprises are everywhere. From big data, to virtual reality, to quantum computing there are many tools on the market that offer compelling solutions for a range of business problems, says Danny Nicholson, principal cloud specialist at Claranet

However, implementing new technology is never a simple drag and drop exercise. Careful consideration into how that technology will work within an organisation and help it reach its goals is critical when adopting new processes, and this is particularly relevant in the case of cloud computing.

The benefits of cloud are infinite, from enhanced data security, to risk management, to a connected and empowered remote workforce. But for enterprises to reap the rewards of this technology, it must be delivered in a way that meets their specific needs.

The move to cloud should not just be seen as an IT revamp, but as a business transition that must be underpinned by a strong strategy.

Laying out a roadmap

The biggest challenge currently facing enterprises looking to move to cloud is aligning their technology strategy to their business strategy. At Claranet, we have seen that the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated thinking around cloud migration. But it has also forced leaders to rethink their business strategy in response to changing employee and customer needs.

Before charging full-steam ahead into a company-wide digital transformation, enterprises need to build a solid business case for cloud adoption. They must determine why they think they should be moving to the cloud and how they hope this new technology landscape will transform their business. Specifically – what problems do they want it to solve?

Enterprises should take stock of their critical applications and workloads for cloud migration and establish a priority ranking based on current and projected 12-month business conditions and customer expectations. This is the first step in planning the route to adoption.

Starting simple

It’s easy to be drawn into the many conversations around multi-cloud platforms going on at the moment and, of course, there is great potential for this technology but enterprises must have a valid business-driven reason. It is all dependent on a company’s skill set; if internal teams aren’t able to support all of these platforms, this approach will only end up increasing complexity and cost. Therefore, enterprises should start simple, assessing their application portfolio and identifying one provider that’s suited to 80% of their workloads.

Adopting a cloud culture

Enterprises are either born-digital, or they are not. Those that have been born into the cloud naturally have a hub and spoke type structure, where every aspect of the enterprise centres on the product and the customer. For companies that have only ever known a traditional hierarchical structure, this is a big culture shock.

Migrating to cloud means changing your organisation’s perspective and taking a step towards a more agile business model. To fully leverage this technology, the following considerations are key:

  • A people-centric approach

The move to cloud should centre around the needs of the workforce. It’s important to have a strong understanding of what employees like about the existing IT infrastructure and what improvements would have the biggest impact on their experience. Generating enthusiasm around the migration starts from the top; executive sponsors should make sure employees are kept updated about the project timeline and the benefits that a new platform will bring.

Danny Nicholson

But more than just centring around human workers, cloud technology should be used in a way that augments them; this is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play.

The idea of AI can strike fear into the hearts of employees, but they must understand that using this technology to carry out certain tasks does not mean replacing them, it means freeing them up to focus on more rewarding work.

By automating time-consuming and costly tasks, companies can not only boost efficiency but also employee satisfaction.

  • Agile thinking

Cloud migration and agile thinking go hand in hand. As cloud technology matures, more roles across the organisation are being drawn into the migration process. DevOps tools and methodologies enable individuals with varied skill sets to work collaboratively to implement change quickly and efficiently. However, these tools must be part of a wider culture that promotes agility, innovation, and individual accountability on shared goals.

  • Strong frameworks

Putting frameworks in place, such as a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCOE), is key to implementing cloud strategy. The CCOE is a small, cross-functional team responsible for driving cloud transformation. They must understand the technical aspects of the migration and, most importantly, be able to align these to long-term business goals and workforce needs. As well as implementing the governance strategies and frameworks needed to transition to a cloud smart business, this team should take on a thought leadership role within the organisation, sharing best practices and fostering company-wide engagement.

Migrating to cloud is about more than just moving data centres from physical to virtual locations, and organisations must keep their wider business goals in sight at all times. Simply put, the more effective a company’s cloud strategy, the more they will gain from this transformation technology.

The author is Danny Nicholson, principal cloud specialist at Claranet

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