Today, many businesses are transitioning to cloud to modernise environments, improve system reliability, advance their digital business initiatives, and support the new realities compelled by the pandemic, such as working from home. According to Gartner, “cloud is the powerhouse that drives today’s digital organisations”. In fact, its growth has been little short of meteoric, with a staggering $494.7 billion spend and 20.4% predicted growth in 2022.
Cloud is driving increased security, increased performance, better customer experience and better value for money in tech investment, and it continues to be widely adopted by global business. But organisations are becoming more prudent and strategic in their cloud investments, centring desired business and technical outcomes when selecting the cloud model that best fits their individual needs.
As a Service Models
‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) is a very common first step into cloud for new adopters – offering a ‘cloud first’ strategy and mindset. But Gartner forecasts that ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ (IaaS) is the strongest growth area in 2022, and can be seen as a second step along the cloud journey for existing cloud investors with on-premises infrastructure that are looking for cloud back-up to support Disaster Recovery. “Software as a Service” (SaaS) is a third type of cloud investment, allowing organisations to enjoy the benefits of hosting specific systems, like accounting, in the cloud, whilst side-stepping the challenge of an on-premise infrastructure overhaul.
Different cloud models will play differing roles, impacting some, or all, of the business, and will offer different benefits to the organisation. Across the various models, there are significant implications in terms of the time, cost and effort of transition. It is therefore important that IT leaders get investment decisions right from the outset and follow three key steps to ensure this.
1. Focus on Core Business Objectives
The most successful companies are those that think about what they want to achieve in the business over the next five years, which helps inform investment decisions and point to the best strategy to pursue.
For some, these decisions revolve around efficiency and productivity. Cloud adoption is a way to reduce infrastructure costs and improve profitability, and by side-stepping infrastructure concerns, can deliver a faster time to market for businesses. For those seeking business agility, cloud enables employees at every level of the business to move more quickly, without having to wait for IT.
In recent years, the cloud’s ability to support geographic expansion with ease, without having to operate multiple data centres, has become very clear. Similarly, cloud improves customer experience by delivering superior connectivity, so that a business can deliver services much closer to its customers.
Security is another core factor: cloud takes away the spiralling costs of engaging security experts by offering built-in top level security capabilities. Finally, cloud adoption is an excellent method of availability and recovery, removing the need for ‘redundancy’ and saving the cost and headache of creating a second site for disaster recovery.
Once the priorities of a business are established and understood, they can move to the next critical step.
2. Evaluate “Time to Value” – How long will it take you to achieve your objective?
A cloud strategy that delivers the value and desired outcomes in the fastest time possible, has the greatest time to value. By spending sufficient time in the design and evaluation process, IT leaders can identify the best route forward. There are three critical considerations:
· Compatibility – Is any transformation effort needed to take this cloud service forward? The more compatible a cloud model is, the greater time to value it will deliver.
· Cost – IT leaders must evaluate and prioritise their critical objectives and operations to make the move more cost-efficient and identify any hidden costs for their particular organisation.
· Complexity – IT leaders must assess how easily a cloud solution can be integrated on-premises, giving the best time to value and ROI.
3. Focus on Core Requirements
According to Gartner, built-in security is a driver for cloud investment for 81% of IT leaders. To put the best foot forward, IT leaders should select a cloud provider that delivers built-in security.
Given the abundance of threats and the ongoing cyber security skills shortage, security services today come at a premium. But with more than 3,500 security vendors in the market, IT leaders are often challenged to source the appropriate solution fit for their business.
For this reason, IT leaders should focus on investing in a holistic security offering, where provisioning across VPNs, robust firewall capabilities, SSL and advanced routing and all compliance needs are met. This can then be bolstered with a comprehensive back-up or recovery solution, in preparation for any cyber incidents. By making the right cloud investment, businesses can invest in both protective measures and recovery options at the same time.