Four priorities for a strong cloud strategy 

If your organisation is thinking about cloud adoption, then you’re not alone. The ‘cloud-first’ attitude has gained considerable momentum in the past few years, something which is set to continue in 2022 with 50% of UK organisations now having a cloud bias (TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities 2022).  

Cloud is a strategic and responsive solution for organisations, with multiple cloud environments available to choose from to meet business and workload requirements. Hybrid cloud can provide your organisation with a bespoke solution that combines the right mix of on-prem, private and public cloud infrastructures.  

Enhanced scalability, flexibility, control, cost-efficiency, agility, and innovation are all big pluses for organisations, and why many adopt hybrid on their journey to the cloud. But with no standardised ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, there are several things you should be evaluating as you develop your cloud strategy. 

Here are 4 priorities for a strong cloud strategy:  

1. Costs and ROI 

With higher operational efficiency, faster deployment cycles and lower cost of ownership, a hybrid cloud approach can offer a cost-effective cloud solution, but how do you make sure you’re managing your costs and getting the best ROI? You should be evaluating: 

  • Existing infrastructure 

Your organisation may have previously invested a lot of money in existing infrastructure – and key stakeholders may have questions about paying for something new while it’s still useful. Existing infrastructure can remain useful to your organisation, but only if aligns with your business requirements. So, you’ll want to evaluate how existing infrastructure can work with hybrid cloud and the associated costs with continuing to maintain it and keep it operational (space/storage, updates, security, parts, time etc.). Evaluating this against potential cloud consumption costs over the same life span of current infrastructure will help you to assess CAPEX vs. OPEX.  

  • Data storage and growth  

It’s important to evaluate costs of data storage now vs potential costs due to growth in data down the line. As an organisation you will accumulate more and more data – so how and where will this be stored?  

If you’re thinking on-prem you should be evaluating the costs of acquiring new systems and understanding how teams access your valuable data. It might be that, with its potential for cloud-bursting, private or public cloud can offer a more scalable and cost-effective solution than buying new infrastructure. Similarly, PAYG data storage might be more cost-effective than a larger initial investment, as you’ll only pay for the data storage you use – but this should be continually evaluated with a cost control strategy to ensure you continue to maximise value.  

  • Cloud skills and management 

Additional costs to consider might also include potential hiring or training costs to acquire and maintain essential cloud skills on your team. You may also find it necessary to outsource to a managed service provider or consultant if the method of migration for an application or workload is more complex. Make sure to also include the impact (and associated costs) of individuals shifting priority to cloud management over your legacy infrastructure in your evaluation. 

2. Workload requirements 

Before you adopt a hybrid cloud solution you need to evaluate what your workload requirements actually are. Rather than driving cloud decisions from infrastructure need up, consider instead workload need down. Evaluate each workload (database, application, container etc.) based on its architecture, usage and resource requirements – asking questions like:  

Is it static, does it face spikes, or is it unpredictable with drastic increases or decreases in traffic? Can the workload run on cloud by default? Is it CPU intensive with high compute requirements and multiple users? 

Let’s look at how you might evaluate your databases and application as examples… 

  • Databases 

According to Gartner, 2022 is the year that 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to a cloud platform. So, what do you need to consider?  

You should be evaluating what type of storage you might need in the cloud such as object, file or block. You’ll want to evaluate the best structure to store and access your databases so you can determine the optimal type of storage or hierarchy for your database. Data sovereignty will also be an essential consideration – your organisation will need to evaluate what requirements must be adhered to and the most suitable environment for that database. In this case, private cloud might provide the best solution for adhering to stringent data requirements.  

  • Applications 

With applications, you’ll want to think about new vs  legacy applications. If you have any applications that were built for on-prem infrastructure, they may not be able to be moved to the cloud without re-architecting. Similarly, you’ll need to consider what workloads can support the scalability of public cloud without impacting service performance.  

Ensure you are also prioritising applications that will benefit your organisation, either by improving the customer experience, enhancing productivity or delivering efficiency. AWS’s 7Rs provides a great framework for understanding and evaluating migration strategies when it comes to moving applications to the cloud. To better understand which workloads should be migrated to the cloud as a priority, we recommend building an evaluation tool that details each workload and its specific requirements. 

3. Data security 

Managing security across multiple cloud environments can be complex. To ensure you don’t become one of the 46.3% of enterprises that report data security management as the number one barrier to adopting hybrid cloud (NTT 2021 Hybrid Cloud Report), here’s 5 questions to review:  

  1. How secure is your current infrastructure? 
  2. What measures are currently in place? 
  3. What security frameworks does the infrastructure follow? 
  4. Are all infrastructures up to date? 
  5. What systems are in place to protect your infrastructure? 

This step is critical to prevent potential risks and cyber security threats, in fact once you have evaluated your workloads you might want to consider additional cyber security measures like Managed Detection and Response to protect your endpoints and infrastructure. Business continuity also needs to be considered as you evaluate data security – what does your organisation have in place for a worst-case scenario? Within the cloud, building a secure cloud landing zone with guardrails can give you a solid foundation to manage access and changes securely. 

4. Cloud skills gaps  

Your final key priority to evaluate will be identifying if any IT/cloud skills gaps exist within your organisation that may impact processes for the management and servicing of workloads across your cloud environments. This is essential to a strong cloud strategy and will enable any organisational restructure or development required in order to maximise the value you get from your hybrid cloud solution.  

Your cloud engineers will need to be prepared to respond to risks and challenges, such as potential cloud downtime. In addition, they should have their finger on the pulse of the latest developments and innovation that comes from your cloud provider. The rate and scale at which these developments occur will depend on your chosen cloud provider (e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) but management will be necessary to maintain efficient and secure systems and infrastructure.  

*A tip from the Brightsolid team is to ensure that migration processes are clearly documented for continuity and to help new cloud engineers joining your team.        

Considering cloud? 

We want you to get the most out of your cloud solution, which is why we consider your business needs in line with these 4 key priorities to strategise, develop and manage a strong hybrid cloud strategy that works. 

Talk to one of our Brightsolid experts to discover your next steps on your journey to the cloud.