By Svenja de Vos, Leaseweb Global
As the cloud becomes a linchpin for IT infrastructures, organizations are recognizing the need for a comprehensive and flexible cloud strategy that aligns with business goals. Yet, when I speak to many companies about their own strategy, I find that planning is often too shortsighted.
One reason for this is that many organizations stumbled into the cloud. In such cases, a cloud platform or cloud application may make its way into the organization through development teams or a specific business unit – such as sales, marketing, or finance – without being part of a broader adoption strategy. Over time, the solution becomes the default for the organization, making it more challenging to alter course – even if a different approach or tool would deliver better results.
Financial considerations also influence a company’s cloud strategy and can play a role in short-term thinking. Building a dynamic infrastructure that can automatically provision resources and adjust to changing workload demands requires a sizable investment. This includes the cost of orchestration technology as well as conducting assessments to determine where data and applications can be utilized most effectively. It can be a difficult exercise where the long-term return on investment isn’t always clear.
Mapping out a cloud strategy based on the current needs of the business is an easy trap to fall into. Organizations should take a more deliberate, longer-term view by expanding their strategy checklist to include two vital elements: the exit plan and the human factor.
The Exit Plan
When it comes to developing a cloud strategy, many organizations are not sure where to start. There is a tremendous amount of available information in the marketplace and sorting through it can demand quite a lot of time. For this reason, word-of-mouth referrals still score high when making purchasing decisions on specific cloud services and products.
IT leaders need to be careful not to limit their evaluation to only recommendations from their network but also explore different options for themselves. As part of this process, they need to plan for an exit before even entering the cloud. Sometimes referred to as “reverse migration,” an exit plan defines how to get out of a cloud engagement if it does not work out as planned. Having a clear exit plan helps protect an organization from disruptions to the business and the risk of vendor lock-in, which limits its IT agility.
The Human Factor
Planning out a company’s business strategy and aligning it with its cloud strategy is certainly not a luxury. IT leaders, together with heads of business, need to ask themselves: Where are we as an organization today? Where do we want to be in five years? What will we do to enable change? By answering these questions, they will have a stronger position when entering into negotiations.
During this process, organizations should focus on the issues of data management and data mobility to help ensure they choose the right cloud solutions and partners for a long-term strategy. And with cloud adoption accelerating at an unprecedented pace, it is becoming more imperative to address the human factor – on both the vendor and client side.
The role of account managers at cloud providers is evolving in response to market demand for more personal contact. On the other hand, companies need to realize that they can tap into valuable knowledge and experience from their employees about the industry, their customers, and the trends that are at play. Cloud is more relationship-based than ever before, and organizations need to take advantage by investing more time in developing this.
Whether they’re in the early days or they’re farther along on their journey in the cloud, IT leaders must be well-prepared and well-versed when searching the market for solutions. The hyperscale cloud players may be the first to come to mind when trying to resolve an IT issue, but they are not the ‘Holy Grail.’ In fact, 82 percent of enterprises say they are taking a hybrid cloud approach, showing that most are combining the use of both public and private clouds.
To build an effective and comprehensive cloud strategy, companies have to move their horizon slightly further into the future. By incorporating into their strategy an exit plan as well as the human factor, they can be free as a bird when making IT decisions instead of being stuck in a cloud.
About The Author
Svenja de Vos is Chief Technology Officer at Leaseweb Global.