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Enterprise Cloud Strategy – Hybrid or Private in 2021?

  • Sanjay Palial
  • By  Sanjay Palial
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  • 87D32530-FD6E-468E-BB24-045278513D21 Created with sketchtool. 8 MIN READ
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  • 6BCC25D0-42B3-420B-8C28-C5D7EF3F6856 Created with sketchtool. Updated: March 20, 2021

A cloud strategy is a concise outlook on the role that cloud computing plays in an organization. An organization with a robust cloud strategy has a more rational approach to cloud usage, weighing both the advantages and potential disadvantages of using the cloud, aiming to maximize the former while keeping down the latter.

By 2022, 70% of organizations will have a formal cloud strategy. Those without a cloud strategy will struggle in their attempts to adopt cloud. Gartner Research

As businesses move towards a new digital paradigm, where they are trying to raise their innovation capabilities to stay relevant in today’s Darwinian digital transformation era, the adoption of cloud services is accelerating rapidly.

However, despite the increasing popularity of enterprise cloud solutions, organizations continue to flounder with prioritizing, building, and implementing a result-driven cloud strategy.

Why is Cloud Adoption Important?

An enterprise cloud strategy lays down cloud adoption recommendations for your business and a fool-proof plan for implementation.

Before going deep into understanding the importance of a cloud strategy for an organization, let’s understand why moving to the cloud is the smartest move for any business?

The product development industry has already “crossed the chasm” with regard to DevOps. In order to achieve the right balance of speed and stability, businesses will have to shift to emerging technologies, backed by Agile methodology, to fuel their stable product development acceleration.

However, shifting to cloud technology without a security-first approach will put your product in danger. Thus, based on the trending technologies and Agile approaches, Net Solutions introduced its Digital Transformation Flywheel to help businesses gain the necessary momentum they require to accelerate their product development process.

Net Solutions' Digital Transformation Flywheel

Why Do You Need a Cloud Strategy?

Having an enterprise cloud strategy ensures fewer hindrances along with the cloud migration and adoption journey while maximizing business benefits. The strategy indicates the “why,” “how,” and “what” of cloud adoption. The absence of an enterprise cloud strategy leads to siloed technological solutions, thereby exposing the organization to risk from substandard configured environments.

“Organizations that do not have a high-level cloud strategy driven by their business strategy will significantly increase their risk of failure and wasted investment.” – David Cearley, Vice President and Gartner Fellow

Devising a cloud strategy starts with analyzing your organization’s current status, deciding on a cloud migration strategy that will suit your business and functional requirements, and how this cloud digital transformation wave will change the enterprise dynamics.

why do you need cloud strategy

The purpose of crafting a sound cloud strategy is to:

  • Define the business outcomes your organization seek and its roadmap
  • Identify the key benefits of adopting the cloud technology
  • Determine the services that will be built internally and those that will be provided by a public cloud partner

What are Different Types of Cloud Strategy?

There are various cloud strategies available that you could choose from, but your finalized strategy should align with your business needs and scaling capability.

According to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report, as much as 93% of respondents vouch for a multi-cloud strategy that includes a hybrid cloud. Whereas, only a few rely on single public or single private in the current times.

State of enterprise cloud strategy

Let’s see what each of these cloud strategies imply:

1. Single Public

It is a type of strategy where computing, cloud storage, and software are made available by the cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis, i.e., you only pay for what you use. In the public cloud, providers manage millions of data centers worldwide to maintain all-time availability and throughput.

The public cloud strategy is beneficial for enterprises looking to save on maintaining legacy infrastructure while an opportunity to focus on core business functionalities.

2. Single Private

It is a type of strategy where the cloud you host your data and applications belongs explicitly to you. The technology stack that matches the business needs is hosted by the cloud provider in an on-premise data center.

The private cloud strategy is beneficial for enterprises that cannot risk moving critical data off-premises, and are highly concerned about data security.

3. Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a mix of private and public clouds. Enterprises prefer a hybrid cloud strategy as it the best deal, and they can maintain some applications on-premises while moving others to the public cloud.

All enterprises are in the hybrid state at one point when migrating to the cloud. This is when you have already moved some applications to the cloud, and some still run on-premises.

4. Multiple-Public

It is a type of cloud strategy where an enterprise relies on more than one cloud service model (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) of the same type ( private or public) from more than one cloud provider. Some understand that a multi-cloud strategy is the same as a hybrid cloud, but it is not.

This is the best and the most popular strategy that enterprises rely upon as it offers an orchestrated cloud experience.

What are the 3 Types of Cloud Services?

Cloud services exist at a variety of levels. Software as a Service (SaaS) are services offered at the application level, Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings are services at the middleware level, and the services offered at the hardware infrastructure level fall under Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

49.2% of business leaders are planning to reach their digital transformation goals with SaaS transformation. Net Solutions’ State of Digital Transformation 2020 Report

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS — each cloud service has different use cases; thus enterprises are always advised to ponder on all options while crafting a cloud strategy that fits the business needs.

Building Soaq’s Flagship Product: A Cloud-enabled Enterprise Video Platform that Maximizes Employee Engagement

A team of people who excel in technology-based learning and development conceptualized and founded Soaq in 2015. Soaq CEO Daniel Wolfe carries a vision to help organizations master internal communications.

Soaq had a vision and they turned to Net Solutions to build a corporate communication platform, complete with machine learning, to recommend relevant videos, flexible access systems, and a highly intuitive interface.

Know how Net Solutions helped Soaq build the world’s first intelligent, widely-adopted enterprise video solution – making Gartner’s List of Cool Vendors in Content Services.

How Net Solutions helped SOAQ in building their cloud platform

Key Cloud Strategy Principles

Crafting your enterprise cloud strategy around the key cloud strategy principles is vital for successful cloud adoption. There are a number of potential cloud strategy principles that define a cloud strategy. Some of them are inexpugnable — for instance, whether a cloud strategy will be application-by-application or workload-by-workload exercise (workloads are groupings of applications).

Apart from this, some other important cloud strategy principles are:

  • Cloud-First: It does not mean everything goes to the cloud. We will discuss it in the coming sections.
  • Buy Before Build: It is often called the SaaS-first approach.
  • Best of Breed: When it comes to cloud, best of breed wins.

Questions to Answer when Building a Cloud Strategy

Here are some commonly asked questions that align with enterprise cloud strategy.

1. What is a Cloud-First Strategy?

The Cloud-first term was initially used by the U.S. government almost a decade ago.

A cloud-first strategy implies that if an organization intends to invest and fulfills relevant criteria, for them, the default option to build or migrate their workload will be in the public cloud. They would then move back from the public cloud to other potential options like on-premises, hosting, or co-location. Remember, the cloud-first strategy does not mean cloud-only.

By 2025, 85% of enterprises will have a cloud-first principle.

2. Is Multi-Cloud Strategy Mainstream?

A multi-cloud strategy allows benefiting from the best services that the popular cloud service providers like AWS, Azure, and Google platform provide. Yes, a multi-cloud strategy is the new normal. Even Flexera’s state of cloud report for 2020 says that 93% of organizations use the multi-cloud strategy, i.e., a combination of multi-public and hybrid cloud.

3. How are Cost and Time Related When Implementing an Enterprise Cloud Strategy?

The time you take to devise a cloud strategy framework, followed by its implementation, decides the corresponding expenditure. There are three phases of migration that are classified as — aggressive, moderate, and slow. Here’s what each of them implies:

  • Aggressive: When you decide to move 50% of your legacy infrastructure to the cloud in one year. An aggressive cloud strategy plan will prove beneficial in the long run but involve higher risk and migration costs.
  • Moderate: When you decide to move about 30% of your legacy infrastructure to the cloud in one year.
  • Slow: When you decide to move about 10% of your legacy infrastructure to the cloud in one year. The cost of migration will be less, but it will affect the organization’s overall growth due to its slow transformation.

If you ask for the best cloud strategy that reduces costs and increases efficiencies, the answer would be a moderate strategy to move to the cloud while maintaining a balance.

4. What is a Cloud Strategy Framework?

A vital parameter of a successful cloud strategy is crafting an enterprise cloud strategy decision framework, which is used to access the benefits, risks, and challenges involved in adopting the cloud technology for specific application scenarios. To evaluate this cloud strategy framework, all the organization’s stakeholders must become part of the team.

Use the following decision matrix, introduced by Gartner, and place “challenges” along the x-axis and “benefits” along the y-axis.

Gartner's quadrant on cloud strategy benefits and challenges

Enterprise Cloud Strategy Roadmap: The 5-Step Plan

Creating an enterprise strategy is essential before migrating to the cloud. The strategy may vary from enterprise to enterprise. However, here are some steps that every enterprise cloud strategy should follow.

1. Creating an Enterprise Cloud Strategy Team

For ensuring that your cloud adoption journey stays on track, creating a cloud strategy team becomes essential. This team is generally headed by the CTO of your enterprise and comprises IT and networking teams.

The team holds the responsibility to build a cloud strategy roadmap and checklist, ensure its successful implementation, and communicate with the stakeholders from time to time. The cloud strategy team also is the key decision-maker when choosing a cloud deployment model, cloud migration strategy, and cloud providers.

The core responsibilities of the team can be summarized as follows:

  • Making faster and informed decisions when choosing from among various cloud strategies
  • Maintaining communication with the stakeholders
  • Choosing between applications that need to be moved to the cloud vs the applications that will be maintained on-premises
  • Framing and implementing a cloud strategy implementation plan to address hindrances towards successful cloud adoption
  • Analyzing, planning, and managing cloud as new realities evolve

2. Analyze Applications Thoroughly

Before framing your enterprise cloud strategy, analyzing applications, and their relevance to the cloud becomes imperative. Decide between applications that need to stay on-premises vs the applications that need to move to the cloud.

For instance, mission-critical applications ought to stay on-premises. The same applies to applications that are out-dated and need to be jettisoned. Moving such applications to the cloud will only add to the costs with minimum to no benefits in return.

In short, if the risk to move a particular application to the cloud is higher, maintain it on-premises.

what type of applications should be moved to the cloud and what types of applications should be maintained on-premises

3. Building A Hybrid Cloud Strategy Roadmap

Not all applications and services can be moved to the public cloud. Where some are maintained on-premises on a private cloud, some need to be abandoned as they are no more valuable.

Here’s a hybrid cloud strategy that you need to understand for getting one step ahead in the cloud adoption journey.

a. Rightsize

Goal: Modernization with the Microservices Architecture

Enterprises confuse cloud migration with simply rehosting their applications from on-premises to the cloud, i.e., lift and shift. However, this strategy is not an ideal solution as optimizations are essential in order to adjust to the new environment.

The applications need to be reconfigured so that they can be cloud-ready, i.e., they need to be resized. This is possible by breaking down the monolithic application structure and adopting the microservices architecture.

Microservices architecture focuses on developing an application with smaller modules that are loosely coupled. This reduces the cost and effort involved in cloud adoption while adding flexibility to iterate whenever necessary.

A cloud strategy example — Netflix took almost seven years to transform its applications and adopt the microservices architecture to move to Amazon Web Services. The reconfigured application structure maximized service availability and reduced IT costs as opposed to on-premise management of resources.

b. Retire

Goal: Looking for a Corresponding SaaS Solution

It is better to look for alternative SaaS solutions for applications that require to be updated or should be retired, as identified in the step above. This is a preferable step if you wish to trim down the time to successful cloud adoption. It is not only cost-savvy but also saves you from the effort of developing an application all over again.

There are third-party SaaS product development companies available that help develops applications that suit different business needs. The cloud strategy team needs to identify these providers, weigh in their pros and cons, market share, and even pricing before finalizing the best fit.

For example, your relation management software that is getting obsolete with time can be replaced with available third-party CRM software online.

4. Reskilling and Upskilling

Once you implement your cloud strategy, the routine IT operations will witness a significant shift. This will further lead to a change in the roles and responsibilities of the IT department, for which your enterprise should prepare in advance.

The new model is, ‘You own it, you build it,” giving single teams ownership of every stage of development and requiring that IT and the business operate in lockstep with one another. — Charlie Li, Capgemini’s chief cloud officer

Reskilling and upskilling is a safe strategy to implement where everybody across the enterprise can learn and adapt to the new working environment. It will reduce burnout and productivity, the greater agenda of any workplace.

As the traditional roles will continue to prevail in the background, the newer cloud-driven roles will evolve and hold precedence. Here is a chart that serves as an example of how enterprise roles will change after implementing the cloud strategy.

Traditional Roles vs Evolving Roles

Traditional Role Cloud-Driven Role
UI, UX Designer

Process Engineer(ensures orchestrated and hindrance free loud experience)

Developer

Cloud Architect (leverage cloud for ensuring business benefits)

Engineering and DevOps (ensures continuous deployment)

Tester

Engineering and DevOps (ensures continuous deployment)

Data Analyst

Data Scientist (Provides insightful data that offers value)

Applications Monitoring and Support

Engineering and DevOps (ensures continuous deployment)

Network Engineer

Engineering and DevOps (ensures continuous deployment)

Edge and Wireless Networking (ensures secure remote-access)

Solution Manager

Relationship Manager (cloud advisor)

Business Architect (ensures the best use of cloud assets)

Another significant change in the organization is the amalgamation of — development and operations department, thus paving the way for the DevOps culture.

Introduction to DevOps

DevOps = Development Team + Operations Team

DevOps is the new reality that has led to a cross-functional setup in the teams that have managed to bridge the communication gap across the organizational culture.

With the cloud, deploying new applications or new features to the existing applications on the cloud becomes normal. This means you would have to appoint the development team to create applications using agile development practices.

Now, as the development teams step in, so would the testers. Thus, breaking the silos that exist between developers, tests, and operations departments.

The takeaway is that you need to prepare, reskill, and upskill your staff to know their changing roles and responsibilities and to train them to what lies ahead. This is an essential step to ensure that cloud strategy best practices are followed.

5. Implementation

When implementing the cloud strategy, the first thing that needs to be decided is as to what part of the legacy infrastructure will be moved first. It is not a one-time effort, but a long-term initiative.

For instance, you are moving a large pile of books from one room to another. Carrying them all at once will be challenging, and the burden might be too much to handle. Moreover, you might fall too.

On the other hand, if you carry only limited books at a time, you can easily carry the weight while ensuring the pile stays intact. The same is the case with cloud migration. You need to lift and shift in partitions. But, here the operations team also needs to prioritize what needs to be moved first based on your business requirements.

Here’s a migration strategy prioritization example by Microsoft:

Cloud migration priority list- what should be move early and what should be left the future

According to the diagram above, choosing low complexity, low business risk workloads should hold priority. If you start small, you can learn and implement better when it comes to complex and high-risk workloads.

Ideally, this should be the order of movement in the cloud:

  • First Phase: Development and Testing (DevTest) environments, Web apps, new products and solutions, redesigned solutions and products
  • Second Phase: Regulatory solutions, High Input/Output online transactional processing systems (OLTP)
  • Third Phase: Secure high-value assets (HVA) systems, public key infrastructure (PKI) systems, and legacy source control systems

Next, follow this cloud migration plan when migrating each of the workloads over to the cloud.

Six Steps for Implementing the Cloud Migration Plan

Process Inference
1. Analysis

Identify the gaps, i.e., what applications you have vs how you want them to be

Plan for the change in the application architecture accordingly

Coordinate with information security and risk management teams to ensure security and privacy controls are in place

2. Application Migration

Create a basic version of the application loaded with minimum data on the cloud

If the application is running on a virtual machine, you can proceed to move the application on the cloud without changes

Optimize the application to offer performance, scalability, and security

3. Networking

Set up a virtual private network (VPN)

4. Data Migration

Move the data in primitive form (with the help of automated tools) either to the relational or non-relational location on the cloud

You can also rebuild the data model to achieve performance, security, and resilience benefits

Create a data recovery plan or resilience planning ensuring business continuity

5. Optimization and Testing

After moving your applications and data, perform performance testing on the cloud

Measure, identify and fix performance gaps if any

6. Operation and Management

Deploy application tracing and monitoring tools offered by cloud providers such as AWS(Amazon Web Services), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform

Use the incoming stats from these tools to monitor performance, identify bugs, troubleshoot, and even analyze traffic

Get access to a single and holistic view of applications at one place

Conclusion

Devising and implementing an enterprise cloud strategy ensures a fool-proof execution of the cloud migration and adoption process. Cloud adoption changes how businesses and IT operate. It is not just another change management initiative, but an entire digital transformation project that requires priority and expertise.

In this write-up, we have covered the enterprise cloud strategy steps that ensure successful migration and deployment of the cloud. It starts with creating an enterprise cloud strategy team, analyzing applications, and deciding what should move to the cloud vs what should be maintained on-premises. Next, building a hybrid cloud strategy roadmap, considering reskilling and upskilling, and finally moving ahead with migration in phases.

The more strategically and patiently you move, the better the implementation and success of your enterprise cloud strategy.

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Sanjay Palial

About the Author

Sanjay Palial is the IT Manager at Net Solutions and oversees the design and deployment of IT infrastructure for the company and our clients. With over 15 years of experience, Sanjay is a certified AWS Solutions Architect and holds expertise in LINUX/Windows server management, Firewall, and network management. Sanjay also enjoys learning about the latest trends in technology and is also a fitness and wellness enthusiast.

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