How to Create an Effective Cloud Strategy Pt. 1: Evaluating Cloud Strategies

There are many reasons CIOs utilize Cloud services, including:

- Performance

- Scalability

- Storage

- Backup and recovery

According to current Cloud trends, the market is entering a second wave. Cloud services are maturing, and market forces like the need for big data analysis, evolving customer expectations, and quick turnaround times for new initiatives are driving many CIOs to adopt new Cloud strategies or evolve their current ones.

Gartner analysts have predicted that the Cloud services market will grow 18% this year. In 2016, the public Cloud services market reached $209.2 billion, and it's expected to reach $246.8 billion in 2017.

In this 2-part series of articles, we will show you a step-by-step process for creating a successful Cloud strategy for your business. The first part will focus on how to evaluate Cloud strategies to find the best fit for your organization.

Determine Your Cloud Needs

The most important considerations in your Cloud strategy are your needs and requirements. You want to evaluate your current and long-term needs for a comprehensive and effective strategy. Here are the factors that you will want to consider.

Long-term business requirements: Is your company planning an expansion or merger? Do you have ambitious initiatives on the horizon? Does your industry have new regulations or compliance requirements to meet? These are the kinds of long-term business needs that impact the kind of Cloud strategy that will work best for your company.

Processes: Your Cloud strategy should support your business processes. You want to define and understand your internal processes, so you can leverage the Cloud to your best advantage. For example, the Cloud can be used to automate repetitive tasks to free your staff for other projects. If your team is geographically dispersed, you can use the Cloud to improve communication and collaboration throughout your enterprise.

Technology: Assess your current technology and infrastructure, and then map out the technology you need to meet requirements. You want to select a Cloud vendor with a wide range of technology choices that support your goals and processes. The vendor you select should provide support and act as your technology partner.

Step 2. Evaluate Cloud Strategies

There are four kinds of Cloud computing strategies: private, public, hybrid, and multiCloud. You want to select a Cloud strategy that is the closest match to your technology needs and business goals.

Private Cloud: A dedicated resource that is not shared with other organizations. A private Cloud can be more expensive than other Cloud options, but is often competitively priced and offers more security and control. If data privacy and security are paramount concerns for your organization, a private Cloud might be the right choice. There are two types of private Cloud:

  • On-premises private Cloud: A data center created and managed on location by your organization or a third-party vendor.
  • Hosted private Cloud: A dedicated computing resource leased from a third-party hosting provider.

Public Cloud: An off-site resource hosted by a Cloud service provider and shared with other organizations. The service provider retains full control over the Cloud infrastructure.

Hybrid Cloud: A combination of on- and off-site computing resources. Hybrid solutions are gaining momentum because they offer the benefits of public and private Cloud models with infinite customization options to fit any organization's budget, security, agility, and reliability needs.

MultiCloud: The use of multiple Cloud computing services to maximize resiliency, balance workloads, or support various types of infrastructures. Organizations use a multiCloud strategy to improve flexibility, reduce single-point dependencies, and increase resiliency.

Vendor Selection

You want to find a vendor with the following attributes:

- Meet your availability requirements with an SLA

- Staff with extensive datacenter expertise

- Wide variety of Cloud options

- Can act as a support

- Works as a partner with your organization

CIOs are discovering that local vendors have these attributes and are more likely to support their technological and business requirements than large-scale Cloud providers, like AWS. Local vendors act as a gateway to Cloud services and can support your Cloud strategy in several ways. For example, they can help you contain costs through careful auditing and optimization.

Many CIOs are using colocation services for the convenient connection to SaaS services and public Cloud. With colocation, you are one hop away from a direct high-speed connection to your choice of Cloud provider. You can also use colocation services to test a variety of services, like Google Cloud, Azure, or AWS. You don't have to commit until you are ready to migrate.

This is part 1 of a 2-part blog. Don't miss part 2.  You can also get our whitepaper, The Steps to Ensure a Successful Cloud Migration.