Cloud computing is the buzzword of the IT landscape. Businesses across the globe are adopting cloud computing to support their digital transformation, streamline work processes, and ensure stable revenue growth.
By 2025, the fastest-growing major technology providers are expected to generate 50% of their revenue from generative or platform business models that leverage cloud computing, according to Gartner’s 2021 2nd Annual Emerging Technology Product Leaders Survey (full content available to clients).
But purchasing new technology is expensive. The cost to implement cloud computing into existing IT infrastructure may not be a challenge for large enterprises, but for small businesses and startups, it could lead to budget constraints.
If you’re planning to implement cloud computing at your business, this blog is for you. This step-by-step guide explains how to build and implement a cloud strategy while keeping your budget intact.
A cloud strategy is an action plan that defines the role cloud will play in your organization. It explains how you plan to adopt cloud computing and host your IT infrastructure on the cloud to achieve desired business goals.
As cloud computing affects every aspect of IT and business, you should have a well-planned decision process to manage its impact. Not having a cloud strategy to address how your business coordinates work using cloud services can significantly increase risks such as mismanagement of tasks and inaccurate resource alignment.
Summarize your business objectives and long-term goals, and explain how cloud computing will help you achieve them more effectively.
In the cloud strategy document, write down your objective(s) of adopting cloud computing. It could be starting a new business function, boosting business growth, consolidating your data centers (physical or virtual), or any other goal that you expect cloud computing to help you achieve.
Next, explain how the identified objectives will serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the performance of cloud computing over time. Other benefits of cloud computing such as IT infrastructure modernization, improved work efficiency, and increased data security can also serve as your KPIs.
Once you have identified the objectives of adopting cloud computing, the next step is assessing the related risks. In the cloud environment, you transfer the control of data and information to a third party, which raises a lot of questions about the access and security of the shared data.
How do you protect your business data when you’re no longer entirely in control? What are the risks to your data? These are some common questions you may have, and they should be included in the cloud strategy document. Explicitly acknowledge all possible risks so you can discuss them with your cloud provider and plan mitigation steps.
Collaborate with your team to identify the risks. Ask your team members to mention all possible risk factors related to cloud computing and what, according to them, are the remedial measures. The table below is an example of what you should have by the end of the process.
|Potential risk||Possible mitigation|
|We may face internal resistance to cloud adoption.||Train employees on the usage and benefits of cloud computing.|
|We don’t trust the cloud provider.||Check the cloud provider’s compliance reports and historical performance.|
|We may experience data loss due to third-party access.||Develop a cloud data protection strategy (data encryption, multifactor authentication, etc.). Select a cloud provider that has strong data protection measures.|
In this step, we check your business’s capability to adopt cloud computing technology. In the cloud strategy document, describe how cloud computing will impact your existing business operations and how you’ll adapt to the required changes. Here are a few considerations for your reference:
Procurement: The selection of the cloud vendor, type of cloud service, subscription method, and payment mode are some procurement aspects to look into.
Operations: Cloud is a shift from managing physical devices to virtual services. Analyze how you’ll make that shift and the skills or professionals you’ll need for it.
Provisioning: Provisioning is the process through which the cloud provider will assign resources to your business. Get a thorough understanding of the allocation process and how your team will access the cloud services. Plan for changes, if required, that will make provisioning easier for your team.
Budget: Cloud services are billed per usage, so it’s difficult to set a long-term budget plan. Check how you’ll accommodate this dynamic aspect while tracking the spending for service consumption.
In the final step, you identify ways to introduce cloud technology into your business. The selected adoption method should be based on your expectations from cloud computing, the potential risks of adoption, and the impact of risks on your existing work processes (as identified in the last three steps). Here are some decisions to make during this phase:
Select a type of cloud service: Common cloud application types include private cloud (offered to select users), public cloud (offered to the general public), hybrid cloud (mix of public and private), and multicloud (services offered by multiple cloud providers).
Prioritize migration techniques: Common migration techniques include introducing a new cloud service, modifying the existing cloud system, and replacing the existing cloud system.
Choose a cloud vendor: Document your list of key considerations for selecting a cloud service provider. These key considerations will focus on the type of cloud service, compliance, subscription plan, and support the vendor offers.
Clearly defining the method of cloud adoption will help you stay in line with the implementation process, reducing the chances of errors such as incorrect alignment of a cloud service with a business’s expectations. Note that the adoption principles are not hard and fast and can be adjusted over time.
Many leading cloud providers largely offer three types of cloud services: infrastructure, platform, and software services. Each of these services has different pricing models, user count, and subscription models, and these aspects vary from one cloud vendor to another.
The availability of multiple cloud vendors can make it confusing to understand which service provider is the best. Here are a few considerations to help you choose the right cloud vendor:
Cloud vendors have to comply with recognized industry standards for service quality and information security. They also have to adhere to certain industry best practices when serving customers. Select a cloud vendor that complies with all applicable industry standards and practices to ensure work efficiency with limited risks.
Cloud service providers adopt technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to support your cloud objectives in different ways. These technology tools help your business save time, improve productivity, and make better decisions. Opt for a cloud service provider that remains updated with the latest technology to help your business grow at present as well as in the future.
Cloud vendors have data privacy rules that define how data will be accessed or shared. Check if your shortlisted vendor’s data privacy rules match your business’s data privacy needs. Also, ensure the levels of data security and accessibility are in your control.
Cloud vendors use contracts and service level agreements (SLAs) as proof that you’ve agreed to the set terms and conditions. Carefully read the fine print under the service delivery, data protection, and legal protection sections before signing the contract.
Read customer reviews to analyze the quality of service provided by your shortlisted vendor. User reviews are the best way to judge the reliability and performance of a service provider.
No service comes with a lifetime warranty. Based on technology updates or changes in business processes, you might want to switch or migrate to a different vendor. Therefore, check the time required to make the switch, the process of ending the contract, and the level of cloud migration support the vendor provides.
To avoid budget overruns, you need a strong cloud adoption strategy and the right vendor. Select a cloud service that not only fits your existing work processes but is also within your business’s operational and financial capability. Similarly, opt for a cloud vendor that has transparent certification standards, data privacy, and user control guidelines.
If you’re not sure about investing in cloud solutions, start with free cloud software. Upgrade to a paid subscription only when you’re convinced that the selected cloud platform is helping meet your business goals. You can also opt for a free software trial to check out features and usability before purchase.
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