Building a Dynamic Cloud Strategy: What It Means and How It Changes in the Wake of COVID-19
COVID-19 has brought about a fundamental shift in technology strategy. Organizations have been forced to transform their cloud and infrastructure strategies overnight. The digital transformation timeline has accelerated by exponential leaps and bounds.
However, as organizations grapple with shrinking budgets and a distributed workforce, it is important to understand the implications of cloud transitions. Building a dynamic cloud strategy is about first understanding your existing IT portfolio and then taking smart decisions on migrations or rebuilding parts of the portfolio.
What Is a Dynamic Cloud Strategy?
Although cloud is become a popular enabler of on demand and at scale transformation, cloud transitions are not always successful. As per a January 2018 IDC survey finding, 81% of 400 IT decision makers stated they planned to migrate applications or data "that were primarily part of a public cloud environment to a private cloud or on-premises environment." A "migrate everything to the cloud strategy" has not been successful for many organizations. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented need for on demand, high productivity platforms has accelerated the pace of migrations even more. Cloud technologies enable on demand and surge capacity as resources can be redirected from one area to another and are thus now moving from "nice to have" to a necessity.
However, cloud migration decisions can be daunting and not every workload is necessarily suitable for the cloud. Sweeping generalizations won't help you make your decision, since each application is different and each organization has its unique portfolio of applications. There are four key steps to building a dynamic cloud strategy:
- Define Goals: Focus on the end goal when making cloud migration decisions, especially for large scale on prem applications with heavy data migration and security concerns. Business and IT need to come together to define a vision for the migration, be it cost saving, increased resilience or on demand scaling. Organizations that rush to the cloud without establishing a vision and ensuring business buy-in will be unable to fully leverage all its advantages.
- Determine Eligibility: Once the goal is defined, the organization needs to determine application eligibility through a portfolio rationalization exercise. Many organizations jump the gun on this step, moving ahead with pushing their entire portfolio to the cloud and then need to backtrack as they end up losing ROI and functionality. An exhaustive portfolio assessment is perhaps the most important step in building a dynamic cloud strategy. In determining the optimal platform for any workload, IT must establish a perspective on the application and its infrastructure attributes. A result of a successful rationalization effort will provide a comprehensive solution design with a determination of workloads that will need to be migrated, rehosted, retired or completely rebuilt.
- Build a Roadmap: Establishing a timeline and building a roadmap is the next step after portfolio rationalization. Create an incremental step-by-step approach to cloud migrations with a focus on current spend and expected return on investment.
- Organizational Change Management: Last but not the least — a technological transformation is only successful when it is accepted and understood by its users. The importance of change management which embraces changes in business processes, training, workforce alignment and continuous monitoring and validation cannot be undermined. Any large-scale transformation strategy needs to ensure that organizational readiness is a strong pillar that supports the transformation effort.
Related Article: The Digital Transformation Time Line Just Sped Up: Now What?
Cloud Strategy Changes in the Wake of the Pandemic
The last six months have changed the landscape in many ways, as cloud has become the enabling technology for some of the major telecommuting, teleworking and even tele-heath applications. The need for on demand scaling and scalable real-time communication has put all other considerations on the back burner while organizations race to keep pace with evolving need. The three basic requirements for an organization today are:
- The ability to scale for a growing remote workforce and client landscape.
- Agility to respond to changing requirements in an unbridled marketplace.
- Resilience to respond to incoming threats.
Related Article: The Role of Distributed Cloud Computing in the Enterprise
So How Does This Change Affect Our Cloud Strategy as a Whole?
The truth is that COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of change and provided a critical imperative for the digital transformations. However, the process of the change itself remains constant. The process of establishing clear goals for digital transformations, performing a portfolio rationalization to determine eligibility of each application for the cloud, establishing a roadmap and providing for organizational readiness are still needed to transform into a true cloud-enabled agile environment that can respond to a volatile world.
The road to a post pandemic future is still not clear and more challenges are probably still ahead of us. The only constant here is change. An organization that is able to embrace the change through a resilient and agile cloud strategy will not only be able to weather the storm but grow and thrive. However, as we embrace this change it is important to consider some of the basic design principles of cloud enablement. Building a strong cloud strategy that works together with business and IT, establishes a vision, invests in a portfolio assessment and brings its people along will reap long-term results. No matter what the need, we need to walk before we run … towards the cloud!
About the Author
Geetika Tandon is a senior director at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management and technology consulting firm. She was born in Delhi, India, holds a Bachelors in architecture from Delhi University, a Masters in architecture from the University of Southern California and a Masters in computer science from the University of California Santa Barbara.
The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of her employer.