Cloudreach Head of Advisory, Jeremy Ward, outlines the five essential elements that will ensure your cloud adoption strategy minimizes disruption and accelerates value.

Your cloud adoption strategy will form the foundations of your adoption journey and will define your new operating model. 

A comprehensive cloud strategy will help align the rest of the business towards a common purpose and set the vision and principles by which cloud should be adopted. 

This is an opportunity to do some soul searching as a business and ask: What are you trying to achieve?

Without understanding why you are adopting cloud and what value it is providing for your business, you are just shifting your technology stack.

An effective cloud strategy will ensure you maximize the potential value of the cloud – whilst avoiding unexpected costs along the way

But where should you start? Here we identify the 5 essential elements of a successful cloud adoption strategy.

1. Have clear objectives and purpose

Why are you migrating to the cloud? What demands/challenges are you addressing? What business goals are underpinning your digital transformation? How are you measuring success?  

These are some of the core questions you need to be able to answer before you begin. They will also be excellent guides whenever you face tough decisions further along in your journey.

These discussions should help define key business drivers, identify problems that need solving, and set clear priorities. 

2. Set cloud adoption vision and principles 

Now that you understand your objectives, it is time to decide on an approach. 

This can involve technical architecture decisions like whether you are going all-in on the cloud or adopting a hybrid model? Or whether you are committing to one cloud provider or taking a multi-cloud approach? Will you rehost (lift-and-shift), or replatform your applications? Or will you refactor using cloud native services? (Check out our blog exploring the 6Rs of cloud migration!).

Or it can be focused more on your operating model and the culture you will need to adopt going forward.

For example, if your objectives are centered around enabling innovation, increasing efficiency and accelerating delivery, then your IT organization will need to feel empowered to make quick, responsive decisions and embrace experimentation.

This shift can trigger some of the most disruptive impacts of cloud transformation. 

A lot of existing processes and roles will have to change if you are to truly realize the value of cloud. The different finance and procurement models, security and compliance approaches, as well as the speed at which new tools and services can be used will require significant change. This will impact your people, the processes they follow, and the technology they use, and the ripples will be felt well beyond your IT organization (more on that in our next point!).

Deciding on your vision and principles will help you build your cloud operating model and will inform the governance you put in place. These guardrails will help accelerate your IT organization towards a more agile, decentralized way of working, where teams are empowered to make decisions for themselves.

3. Start communicating with stakeholders outside of IT

The impacts of cloud adoption are not solely contained to your IT organization. They ripple outwards, having profound effects on other functions within your business. For example, there are many touchpoints where your IT organization interacts with your finance, procurement and security teams.

Your strategy should include these departments to ensure goals are aligned and to plan how best to respond to any disruption. Ensuring that key stakeholders – especially leaders –  from around the business are ‘bought-in’ to the strategy and vision behind the migration is crucial. By having these conversations at an early stage, you can minimize the ripple effect of cloud ensuring your other functions update their governance models to empower a more decentralized, automated compliance process. 

4. Assess your application portfolio

Assessing your application portfolio will help you make a number of key decisions when working on your strategy.

It will allow you to determine which cloud vendor and which cloud configuration is the best for your organization. This can give you a clearer indication of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for moving to the cloud.

Cloud configuration includes instance types, storage options, availability zones, pricing plans, and required capacity. Your best-fit configuration will give you the best performance at the lowest cost.

For an accurate assessment, you need a clear picture of existing infrastructure and applications – what you currently have, your performance profile, and the nature and quantity of related storage.

Then you need to be able to perform apples-to-apples comparisons of how various cloud vendor offerings and related pricing models will serve your requirements.

5. Establish a “North Star” 

In point one, we mentioned the importance of objectives and purpose when aligning the business around cloud transformation. Establishing a ‘North Star’ will help reinforce this alignment.

This ‘North Star’ or ‘lighthouse project’ will exist as proof of concept for your cloud strategy.

Identify a part of your business that supports transformation and is important enough to make an impact. Move the key application(s) to the cloud, and showcase it. Use this project to grow support and understanding of cloud migration within your business. 

You can also use it as a testing ground for building a cloud center of excellence and defining your governance framework before cloud is rolled out to the rest of your business.

Does your organization need help with its cloud strategy? Our consulting team has helped lead successful cloud transformation initiatives in some of the world’s largest, most complex enterprises. Find out how our Advisory Services will help you build momentum towards transformational outcomes by clicking here.