In more or less extent most enterprises have already started their Journey to the Cloud: an evolution of how they provide, use and innovate from the more “traditional IT” processes and IT resources to the new ways that the Cloud can enable but in a faster, hisperscalable and more agile way and often -when done correctly- in a more economical way. (It is either less cost or less TCO -Total Cost of Ownership- for the same resources and services at the same or better Service Level Agreements -SLAs-).
This evolution to the Cloud is often referred to as Enterprise Journey to the Cloud, as shown in the figure below. Needless to say, each company does this journey at its own pace, but it shows a common way of starting the trek.
We typically divide this journey into four phases. As your enterprise moves to the following phases, additional gains and benefits can be obtained. These are typically measured in Agility from a business perspective and Cost Savings from an economic one.
Let’s look into the Cloud Journey with some additional detail. The four main phases that you will commonly see are the following:
1. The Strategic Phase – Making the Business Case
At the initial or strategic phase, companies start evaluating the possible implications of adopting Cloud computing. From a practical perspective, companies need to understand what the Cloud is and how it differs from traditional IT. They also need to comprehend the potential benefits, risks, security, compliance and data control, and impact on the organization and IT. At this stage, most enterprises start getting some training, IT and Cloud assessments, first internal analyses, and depiction of roadmaps, often with the help of consulting companies. Among aspects being considered at this stage are timing, ways of contracting cloud services, costs, TCO, portfolio of systems and apps that could be the first candidates for Cloud adoption. And most importantly, they look at business drivers. They ask, “Can Cloud computing help increase efficiencies and strategic objectives for the company? Are business and IT as usual enough to maintain and increase market position? Is the digital transformation in our business really required in an economic and institutional world that is increasingly engaging and transacting through mobility with increased intelligence?” If your answer is yes, then be assured that Cloud computing and Cloud services are behind all those new capacities.
2. Testing Phase: Start of Cloud Adoption
At this stage, the easiest way for companies to start adoption and testing is to use Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, which are usually not business-time critical like CRM, human resources, accounting, collaboration tools, or office productivity, such as Office365 or G-Suite. When considering other aspects, such as in-house development or thoughts about moving business-critical solutions (e.g., ERPs, warehousing, and production), it’s the time companies start contracting and deploying Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) and doing first pilots and proofs of concept. At this stage, when starting IaaS for non-critical applications, such as test or development environments, it’s also the time for designing the first hybrid setups. In practical terms, it is providing networking and communications between end-users and the resources deployed in Cloud and connecting sites and the on-premises centers, which everybody calls the Private Cloud. At this stage, it’s important that at least basic Cloud governance is defined in terms of deployment, security, and compliance. Whether these tasks are going to be performed in-house or with the help of external Cloud professionals, it’s useful for IT to start receiving technical training to better understand capabilities as well as risks. You don’t want to get your company exposed to any external or internal threats. Public Clouds are well prepared to be safe and secure, and they provide lots of services and options, but this does not mean you don’t have to design and deploy your security policies.
3. Optimization Phase: Cloud Migration
Once the organization is convinced of the benefits that the Cloud model can provide, this phase is the natural step or actual door to a more mature Cloud strategy to obtain the impact and benefits being pursued. The most common topics that are decided and started during this phase are the following:
- Decision on a Cloud-first strategy. Briefly defined, this strategy means that for every new IT service/application/system that the business requires, the first option will be a Cloud-based solution that adapts better to the users’ and business needs.
- Cloud migrations. As a logical consequence of the Cloud-first strategy, this phase is when migrations to the Public Cloud are decided and performed. (My next posts, which can be found in the Cloud Migration Handbook Vol. 1, deal with the many aspects that need to be prepared technically and organizationally to guarantee successful Cloud adoptions and/ or migrations.)
- IT Cloud governance. Another important aspect that is usually covered during this phase of the Cloud journey has to do with setting up an IT Cloud governance as the way of organizing and optimizing the IT resources that are provided to the business.
- Establishment of a Cloud-first strategy. Migrating to the Cloud and establishing a Cloud-first strategy is going to directly bring a rationalization of the IT in terms of operations, management, security, support, and a more powerful and flexible DevOps environment.
- General optimization of workload and costs. Migrating to a Cloud IT model can bring significant savings to the organization, but a word of caution: to achieve those much-promised benefits, governing the Cloud, designing optimal architectures, bringing the power of automation, and managing the costs are of essential importance. These topics are covered in detail and with practical examples throughout my Cloud Migration Handbook
4. Innovation Phase: Business Models
Before Cloud computing, all sorts of innovations, in the form of new products or services or improved efficiencies, were constantly taking place in all types of private and public organizations and institutions. And the exponential advances in technology and computing, in particular, were key enablers for that. The Cloud is a step forward, an evolution proving unprecedented capacities for innovation, and it probably is a more democratic way since it allows even smaller organizations to take advantage of computing power and resources that previously could be only purchased with deep pockets for investments. The innovation phase is when companies start realizing the potential and most benefits of the Cloud: the agility to innovate. It’s not just costs that can be saved. It’s mostly the time that is needed to develop and put in place new services and products to reach a greater market and to more efficiently serve customers and citizens alike. Time efficiency translates into savings, including taking much less time to procure IT resources in a more optimized and automated way. The Cloud is an improved gateway to a world of possibilities to design and develop new business models in a globalized marketplace.
More detailed information about Cloud Adoptions and Migration can be found in the first chapter of the Cloud Migration Handbook Vol. 1