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Before diving into some fundamental insights on cloud strategy, let’s set the stage with a foundational fact: you need an actual cloud strategy. A cloud strategy is a concrete, formal document that aligns your technology tools with your actual business operations. IT leaders have to recognize the fact that a vendor or set of IT procedures is not a genuinely strategic approach to realizing the full value of the cloud.
And there’s always time to formulate a formalized cloud strategy—even if your own cloud initiatives have already begun. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive document detailing how every single thing your business does will eventually be cloud-based in some distant future. It doesn’t have to be a precise implementation or step-by-step progression plan. In fact, a good cloud strategy shouldn’t even attempt to solve every potential strategic problem at the planning stage—learning by doing, prototyping, and adaptability are key when fleshing out an enterprise-scale cloud solutions.
The strategy should be high-level, supplemented later by more detailed technical documents as necessary. Most importantly, it needs to be a true group-effort that solicits attention and buy-in from enterprise leaders outside of the technology organization. For a cloud deployment to reach its transformative potential, it needs to transcend traditional notions of IT support, achieving unprecedented integration with ground-level operations.
Below, we review some of the core strategic concerns this plan should treat.
Strategic Vendor Selection
Vendor selection is one of the most vital foundational steps for a value-driven cloud deployment.
The surging popularity of cloud-based enterprise systems has driven an incredible of service providers. IT leaders should be wary of less established providers. Some of these providers lack fully developed business models, and disruptions risk negating the very agility, security, and cost control options the cloud is supposed to open up.
At the same time, simply assuming the biggest names offer the most value can be a dangerous proposition in a situation where every dollar matters. These providers may be worth considering, but only via a thorough usage governance policy. Engaging a consulting team with specialized experience matching enterprise needs with cloud providers is a worthwhile investment for many firms without an expansive existing in-house cloud knowledge base.
These consultants can help navigate one further complexity: the growing viability of multi-provider models that allocate different functions to different providers according to operational and budgetary concerns. While this strategy opens up further potential margins for cost savings and performance enhancement, it requires deeper knowledge still of the bevvy of service providers on the market.
The multi-cloud is rapidly becoming the prototypical solution for sizable enterprises. They may move data centers to public cloud IaaS, for instance, while keeping some core operational apps on premise and moving the DevOps environment to a PaaS model.
The Edge Imperative
As noted above, cloud deployments create the most value when they can be integrated with broader business operations rather than provided as a sort of auxiliary service. That’s precisely why edge computing use cases are becoming so essential. Edge computing refers to placing strategically selected compute-storage capabilities in relative proximity to data collection devices like cameras, sensors, and customer touchpoints.
Processing this data onsite reduces latency and bandwidth requirements, opening up the possibility of real-time technology services at edge locations (any office outside main data centers). These services, customer-facing or otherwise, go far beyond marginal efficiency improvements, opening up opportunities to shake up the business models behind entire industries
But providing onsite storage-compute resources and otherwise provisioning edge computing scenarios requires a meticulous hardware-software strategy to avoid introducing a sprawling cost-management problem—another value-laden use case for an experienced cloud team to be called in, at least for initial design and planning.