The Critical Importance of a Comprehensive Cloud Strategy

Gartner has projected that the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 18 percent in 2017. The greatest growth will come from cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), which is projected to increase 36.8 percent. Rising adoption of IaaS has pushed public cloud infrastructure services into the mainstream. In addition, growing demand for compute-intensive workloads such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving additional migration of data center infrastructure to the cloud.

As we noted in our last post, the cloud gives organizations the opportunity to reduce or delay capital investments in IT infrastructure, minimize operational overhead, and rapidly implement and scale applications and services to meet changing business demands. This can be particularly beneficial for startups that lack existing infrastructure and have more fluid business processes and workflows. In fact, the cloud often gives these “digital native” companies a competitive advantage over larger, well-established firms with less agile data center environments.

However, even startups need a cloud strategy that addresses the long-term costs of subscription-based cloud services, as well as a continuity of operations plan for changing cloud providers or moving applications in-house. Security should be baked in from the start to ensure that a data breach or regulatory violation doesn’t spell doom for the nascent business.

For established businesses, the stakes are even higher. These organizations have to consider their existing IT investments and the operational processes that support their data center infrastructure. Ad hoc adoption of cloud services can lead to a fragmented environment that hampers productivity and increases costs and security risks.

That’s why a comprehensive cloud strategy is so important. It starts with an assessment to determine why you want to move to the cloud and whether cloud services will meet your objectives. For example, many organizations decide to move to the cloud because they have out-of-date technology and don’t want to face the cost and disruption of a refresh. Or maybe they want to move their development and testing operations to the cloud, or their backups, or their email services because they believe the cloud will be more cost-efficient. A cloud assessment will test these assumptions and determine whether the cloud is the best path forward.

If it is, then the cloud strategy should establish business, financial and operational targets that help drive the selection of cloud services. In addition, the cloud strategy should ensure that the proper technical foundation is in place to ensure the ongoing success of the cloud initiative and effective integration with in-house IT processes. Key considerations include:

  • The extension of user credentials, access controls and identity management processes to cloud-based services
  • Preparation of the network to take advantage of the cloud provider’s functionality to improve performance and agility
  • A backup architecture that effectively protects all critical data, including data stored in the cloud
  • A disaster recovery plan that considers the entire IT infrastructure holistically and ensures the continuity of mission-critical services
  • Centralized monitoring that provides a comprehensive view across on-premises and cloud infrastructure

Sequel Data Systems has built a cloud practice to help guide organizations through these decisions and implement cloud services that will take them into the future. If you’re considering a move to the cloud, put our 30 years of experience to work in developing your comprehensive cloud strategy.