Studies suggest that over half the organizations that already use cloud technology will integrate a cloud-first strategy by the year 2021. A cloud-first strategy includes a business shifting all of its current processes into cloud services.
While adopting a cloud-first strategy results in significant improvements, it also can be an incredible transitional challenge for your organization. Ask yourself, should you choose this strategy, and how should you go about adopting it? In this article, we discuss what a cloud-first strategy is and if it’s the correct strategy for your organization.
A cloud-first strategy is a business strategy in which organizations transfer all of their internal processes to a shared cloud infrastructure to save on IT costs. They essentially replace all of their current software and digital platforms for a single integrated cloud service provider. This gives the business access to high-end and secure cloud services at a reasonable cost.
To accurately understand the cloud-first strategy, you need to have basic knowledge of cloud computing at least. However, the term cloud computing is so diverse and broad that it’s hard to summarize in a single sentence. At best, we can break cloud computing down into its three essential tiers — IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
• Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): This refers to all of the hardware, operating systems, storage systems, and servers that power and facilitate the cloud computing system.
• Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This refers to a set of tools that facilitates the coding and use of applications in the cloud space.
• Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This refers to the software applications that the end-users access via the internet and the cloud computing system.
The relationship between these three tiers is usually highlighted using the analogy of traffic on a highway. IaaS can be compared to the roadways, PaaS can be compared to the vehicles on the road, and SaaS can be compared to the people within the vehicles. In a traditional approach, the organization would have to purchase their roadways and vehicles. But with cloud computing, organizations can subscribe to the entire network.
There are three types of cloud models — public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. To be successful in your cloud computing strategy, you need to assess which of these models is most suitable for your organization’s needs. The following is a brief overview of the three cloud models.
• Public Cloud: This is suitable for businesses that want to create infrastructure and services whenever they need and only pay for the specific services they require.
• Private Cloud: This is the best choice for businesses that want to run all of their production workloads with complete control and autonomy.
• Hybrid Cloud: This is the best choice for businesses that want to seamlessly move their assets and workload from one type of cloud to another.
Before you go ahead with a cloud-first approach, you need to take a good hard look at your current IT solutions. Which parts of your IT serve you well currently? Which of them can you integrate into hybrid or private cloud computing?
To smoothen and facilitate the transition, you may even need to bring external assistance to help your entire organization assimilate to the cloud-first approach. You should look for reliable enterprise-focused providers who can help your team transition into the cloud-first plan. The external experts can also work with your current IT team to minimize downtime or interruptions during the transition period.
You also need to ensure that cloud-first technology provides you a strong return on investment over time. You need to consider all of your current capital and operational costs and figure out how you can leverage the cloud technology to bring future costs down. Consider all storage, server, and network technologies and solutions to ensure that they meet all of your current and future demands. It’s better to opt for open-source solutions rather than proprietary solutions because they’re more reasonable and there are no concerns regarding vendor lock-in. Furthermore, open-source solutions are also flexible enough to meet all of your evolving needs.
Infrastructure security is an essential factor to consider when you’re looking at cloud computing. There is a wide range of cloud security tools and applications out there, but you also need to assess your current infrastructure. You need to assess your traffic flow to determine if cloud security solutions (firewalls, anti-malware, intrusion prevention, etc) are more suitable being deployed in your internal technologies or the cloud.
Once you’ve finally decided that you’re going through with the cloud-first strategy, you can implement it by going through the following steps.
• Assessment: Assess the overall impact of cloud-first implementation in terms of cost, security, and architecture. Introduce the idea to your team and do a brief pilot run for the approach to gauge its feasibility.
• Migration: First determine how much of your asset you’re migrating to the cloud and the method of migration. Then, find the most secure data storage option possible within your budget and then trigger the data migration phase to move all of your current assets to the cloud. You can choose to completely migrate all of your data simultaneously, a slow trickle approach, or to migrate certain functions while keeping others within their servers.
• Cloud Access: Use all of the tools and applications provided by your cloud solution and automate your business functions. Engage all the cloud capabilities that can be useful to your company.
• Monitoring & Adjustments: Make final adjustments to ensure that your cloud solution results in optimal benefits and the highest return on investment possible. You should also engage in performance monitoring, so you’re immediately alerted about any issues.
Based on all of the information provided in this article, you should be able to figure out whether your organization is ready for a cloud-first strategy. Before you decide to go ahead with it, you need to consider which cloud model your organization needs and assess the needs of your team. Once you’ve decided that your organization can benefit from a cloud-first approach, you can implement the plan by selecting a secure storage service, migrating all of the necessary company assets and data, and leveraging the cloud’s tools and applications to increase your organization’s productivity.