Follow this comprehensive 7 step-by-step process to assess your current infrastructure and technology landscape, and determine the building blocks of your cloud transition plan. Assess your current and desired cloud state using tools and techniques, such as the PESTEL framework, McFarlan IT portfolio grid, Fit-Gap analysis and others. Develop a cloud implementation roadmap composed of relevant initiatives.
More and more organizations are turning towards cloud computing as an efficient instrument for deploying fast-to-market solutions for business-critical apps and workflows. However, adopting the cloud without a clear strategy and implementation roadmap is not effective and can cause problems. A well-thought out cloud strategy perapation process is needed in order to prepare the enterprise for smart and deliberate decisions regarding cloud initiatives. In this guide, you will be led through the essential steps for developing an efficient cloud strategy.
Though numerous enterprises have proclaimed a “cloud-first” approach, many of them don’t have a well-established cloud strategy that clearly defines the “why”, “how” and even “what” of their cloud implementation. A cloud strategy is an indispensable ingredient that guides your organization towards achieving pivotal objectives that will in turn lead the company to a multifold of favorable outcomes.
Without a cloud strategy, an organization may try to accommodate a multitude of choices that often conflict with each other and fail to guide the business towards achieving its important corporate goals. With no cloud strategy, a firm doesn’t have traceable business objectives and lacks the appropriate focus for the key challenges that need to be solved.
Defining a cloud strategy aims to:
In the subsequent paragraphs, you will discover a detailed 7 step-guide to create a cloud strategy. This is a basic outline of the cloud strategy activities, but the depth and the thoroughness of the analysis can be adjusted as per the needs of the organization.
Setting business objectives helps you to define exactly what your business wants to achieve by moving to the cloud. The most effective cloud business objectives meet the SMART criteria: they are specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-specific.
These activities are the cornerstone elements of cloud strategy that set the direction and focus for the company to follow.
At this stage in the analysis, we capture the macro-context of the business. The main deliverable of a current business context analysis is to set up the business’ direction and define the cloud needs based on the strategy. No doubt there may be gaps between the current capabilities and those required to fulfill the cloud-enablement of a business.
The tools and techniques that are useful for a business context analysis are:
Focusing purely on a cloud technical implementation roadmap without taking into account the business architecture is unlikely to deliver a truly holistic picture of the existing concerns. The objective of an analysis is to create an understanding of the business IT architecture by defining its technical maturity as well as any factors that need to be improved or reworked along the path towards a flawless cloud implementation.
IT architecture analysis includes the following:
A useful technique to help with defining the current, strategic, high potential, or key operational cloud support systems is a McFarlan IT portfolio grid.
A McFarlan IT portfolio grid determines the strategic impact of IT applications in our case cloud services on the current vs. future industry competitiveness. All of the existing infrastructure in the company can be categorized as per the McFarlan IT portfolio grid.
Mapping the cloud infrastructure on the McFarlan IT portfolio grid helps to match business requirements to the cloud and to evaluate how existing systems are contributing to a company’s business objectives. It also assists in identifying how an organization can achieve any strategic business objective by utilizing the cloud.
The key objective through this future/target state analysis is to develop a vision of the cloud-enabled enterprise architecture. This includes both business and technological aspects of the cloud deployment. At this stage, the impact on business processes and operations is considered.
Some of the issues related to cloud transformation are linked to security constraints that narrow down the choice of cloud platforms and cloud deployment architecture. The considerations that should be taken into account are the authentication, identification, confidentiality and auditability options.
The following tools can be helpful in defining the desired cloud state:
A business value and benefits assessment includes the following steps:
Gap analysis includes identifying the gaps and dependencies in proposed cloud solutions to ensure there are no barriers to implementation or the migration plans.
The key components of the cloud strategy at this stage mainly consist of iterative fit-gap assessments.
Fit-Gap analysis is a useful tool that can help with identifying priorities, overlaps and shortfalls. Whenever the cloud “fit” happens, a fit-gap analysis is performed to determine the issues (“gaps”) and ensures that every one of these “gaps” will be solved by the offered cloud solution. The main goal of a fit-gap analysis is to determine the building blocks of a cloud transition plan by putting them into five categories, as shown in the image below:
After conducting a gap analysis, stakeholders elaborate on the appropriate implementation priorities and scope, and then develop the final implementation plan that consists of all the relevant deliverables (noted above).
Risk-aware cloud strategies are critical to the success of the business. A risk assessment helps to determine and validate potential issues, and compiles the appropriate mitigation strategies.
Before an organization can assess or mitigate risk, it must first identify the likely risks that may occur. There’s no failsafe method to identifying business risks, however companies can rely on their past experiences to estimate what may or could happen.
A business risk assessment includes determining potential risks and then categorizing them into two categories:
After the risks are identified, they have to be prioritized in accordance with their likelihood of occurrence.
For elements in each category of risk, an organization can create a tiered probability-impact matrix analysis. Such an analysis helps to define (and ideally quantify) risk components, in terms of their impact and probability (low, medium or high), as shown below:
After the risks are prioritized, it is advisable to create a risk mitigation strategy/action plan.
The key objective of the implementation plan is to support the cloud delivery through a viable implementation roadmap and resulting recommendations. The main activities include evaluating the dependencies, along with the costs and benefits of different cloud transition projects. The prioritized list of projects will form the foundation for the cloud implementation plan. The main deliverables of a cloud implementation plan are
The seven steps described above are a generic approach towards a cloud transition. In practice, it is necessary to adjust or extend the cloud strategy, then prioritize and adjust according to the business context you are in. Yet, it’s important to carefully conduct both an as-is and to-be analysis to get a clear vision and understanding of the current and desired state.
Cloud adoption may be the natural evolution of an enterprise’s digital transformation. Sometimes, more work needs to be done to figure out a clear vision for a cloud adoption which is followed up by some very explicit IT architecture groundwork. The adjustment of the cloud strategy comes from the practical assessment of resources and competences availability, as well as the benefits that can be delivered by using the cloud.
It is crucial to set relevant cloud adoption priorities in accordance with business objectives and priorities. In the planning stage, coherent organization-specific guiding principles for a cloud adoption will serve as significant milestones towards a successful cloud strategy.
At Avenga, we can help you build a viable cloud strategy, starting from the assessment of your current (as-is) on towards your desired (to-be) state, in order to develop a transition and implementation roadmap. We are here to support you at the delivery and execution stage as well. Below are several reasons why you should consider partnering with Avenga: