Running a business without some cloud support is rare these days. Yet, when crafting a cloud strategy, companies seem to make some common mistakes. There are several of them here.
Making Your Cloud Strategy Only IT Strategy
Gartner said this week at its IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies conference that a successful cloud strategy requires support from IT outsiders.
“Business and IT leaders should avoid the mistake of building an IT-focused strategy and then trying to ‘sell’ it to the rest of the business,” Marco Minardi, vice president analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “Business and IT must be equal partners in the definition of cloud strategy.”
“Technology for technology’s sake is generally not a good idea,” said David Smith, vice president analyst at Gartner.
“Anytime you do something, you want a clear vision of why you’re doing it, what the business reason is,” Smith told TechNewsWorld.
“People look at it and say, ‘It’s technology. Let the technologists deal with it,'” he continued. “What happens then is that people focus on the adoption phase – which is about how you do things and when – which is different from the strategy part, which focuses on whether you What are you doing and why are you doing it.”
Change in exit strategy
Organizations often do not have an exit strategy in place with a cloud provider because they do not envision leaving the cloud. Furthermore, formulating such a strategy can be difficult. “People don’t like the answers they’re going to get, so they avoid it,” Smith said.
During the early days of the cloud, vendor lock-in was a significant fear, but that’s less the case today, said Tracy Wu, an analyst at Forrester, a national market research company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.
“Some companies will prefer to be locked down with a specific vendor to get to market sooner or take advantage of specific pricing or services,” Wu told TechNewsWorld.
Still, she said, “organizations should always think of a plan B whether it’s the cloud or some other option.”
“That being said,” he continued, “it’s rare to hear of companies that actually pull out of a specific cloud provider completely.”
Confusing cloud strategy planning with cloud implementation planning
Organizations should always have a cloud strategy plan before implementation or adoption. Strategic planning is created during a decision phase in which business and IT leaders determine the role of cloud computing in the organization. Next comes a cloud implementation plan, which puts the cloud strategy into effect.
“If you call something a strategy, and it’s really an adoption plan, you end up with hundreds of pages of details that aren’t of interest to business people, so you scare them away, Smith explained.
“A good cloud strategy should be a short and consumable document, consisting of 10 to 20 pages or slides,” Meinardi said.
Some areas commonly overlooked in cloud strategy planning, as identified by Wu, include key goals, targeted revenue targets, new revenue streams, and the new business or traction the organization wants to build using the cloud.
“Too often, companies get into a rush to adopt the cloud and only think about the implementation aspect without thinking of the higher goals or the larger strategy at hand,” he said.
Comparing a Cloud Strategy to Migrating Everything to the Cloud
Minardi explained that many business and IT leaders shy away from formulating a cloud strategy because it would mean they would be forced to use cloud computing for everything. “Organizations should keep an open mind and partner with a non-cloud technology expert, such as an enterprise architect, who can bring a comprehensive perspective to the definition of your cloud strategy,” he advised.
On the other hand, some organizations believe that moving to the cloud is an easy task.
“One of the biggest challenges companies face is they think they can take what’s going on and move it to the cloud,” said Jack E. Gold, founder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates ” IT Consulting Company Northborough, Mass.
“To get the best benefits from a cloud implementation, you need to rethink your applications, solutions, architecture and strategy,” Gold told TechNewsWorld.
“They also don’t do a great job of deciding which apps should stay on-premises and which should move to cloud environments,” he added.
“There are a lot of apps that will never go to the cloud,” he continued. “They’ve been around for 10 years. They’re going to be around for another 10 years. Why bother?”
Outsourcing Evolution of Your Cloud Strategy
As tempting as it may be for other business and IT leaders to build a cloud strategy, Gartner doesn’t recommend it. Outsourcing is very important, it said.
“It makes sense to outsource during the adoption phase where you may need outside expertise,” Smith said. “What happens, though, is that it’s all too easy to put yourself in a position where you’re allowing your vendors to define your strategy.”
“If you want to go out and get help from someone who knows what they’re doing, that’s fine, but you have to look at what they’re doing,” Gold said. “You don’t want to just throw checks at the wall. You need to be involved in figuring out your strategy, even if someone else is helping you put it together.
Wu agreed. “I wouldn’t say that outsourcing strategy is a bad idea unless the entire strategy is being outsourced, with absolutely no direction from the company,” she said. “It’s really a big part of what leading global systems integrators do when they help design and implement cloud strategy.”
Comparing cloud strategy to ‘cloud first’
Gartner explained that the “cloud first” approach means that when someone wants to create or own new assets, the public cloud is the default place to do so.
“But cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud only,” Mainardi said. “If businesses and IT leaders adopt a cloud-first principle, their strategy must work on exceptions to the default option that will apply elsewhere besides the cloud.”
Wu notes that some of the assets best placed outside of the cloud are data with heavy residency requirements (data cannot leave a specific region or country), data that needs to be physically located outside of the location being processed for latency or performance reasons. Must be relatively close, and where data exits is very expensive, such as in big data applications and AI.
Believes it’s not too late to design a cloud strategy
Gartner argues that it is never too late to develop a cloud strategy. “If organizations drive cloud adoption without a strategy in place, it will ultimately lead to resistance from those who are not aligned on the key drivers and principles of the strategy,” Meinardi said. “As a result, this resistance will slow cloud adoption and potentially jeopardize the entire cloud project.”