Running a business without some cloud support is a rarity these days. Still, when formulating a cloud strategy, companies seem to make some common mistakes. Here are several of them.
Making Your Cloud Strategy an IT-Only Strategy
Gartner, at its IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference this week, noted that a successful cloud strategy needs support from IT outsiders.
“Business and IT leaders should avoid the mistake of devising an IT-centric strategy and then trying to ‘sell it’ to the rest of the business,” Gartner Vice President Analyst Marco Meinardi said in a statement. “Business and IT should be equal partners in the definition of the cloud strategy.”
“Technology for technology’s sake is generally not a good idea,” added Gartner Vice President Analyst David Smith.
“Whenever you do something, you want a clear line of sight back to why you’re doing it, what’s the business reason,” Smith told TechNewsWorld.
“People look at it and say, ‘It’s technology. Let the technologists deal with it,’” he continued. “What happens then is that people focus on the adoption phase — which is about how you do things and when — which is different from the strategy part, which focuses on what you’re doing and why.”
Shirking an Exit Strategy
Organizations frequently don’t have an exit strategy from a cloud provider because they don’t envision leaving the cloud. In addition, formulating such a strategy can be difficult. “People don’t like the answers they’re going to get, so they avoid it,” observed Smith.
During the early days of the cloud, vendor lock-in was a significant fear, but that’s less the case today, noted Tracy Woo, an analyst with Forrester, a national market research company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.
“Some companies will choose to be locked in with a specific vendor to get to market sooner or take advantage of specific pricing or services,” Woo told TechNewsWorld.
Nevertheless, she added, “Organizations should always be thinking about a plan B regardless of whether that is cloud or some other alternative.”
“That being said,” she continued, “it’s rare to hear about companies that actually do exit from a specific cloud provider completely.”
Confusing a Cloud Strategy Plan With a Cloud Implementation Plan
Organizations should always create cloud strategy plans before implementation or adoption. The strategic plan is made during a decision phase in which business and IT leaders decide the role cloud computing will play in the organization. A cloud implementation plan comes next, putting the cloud strategy into effect.
“If you call something a strategy, and it’s really an adoption plan, you end up with hundreds of pages of detail that are not of interest to the business people, so you scare them off,” Smith explained.
“A good cloud strategy should be a short and consumable document, consisting of 10 to 20 pages or slides,” added Meinardi.
Some areas typically overlooked in a cloud strategy plan identified by Woo include key goals, intended revenue targets, new revenue streams, and new business or traction that the organization wants to create using the cloud.
“Too often, companies get into a rush adopting cloud and only think about the implementation aspect without thinking about the higher target or larger strategy at hand,” she said.
Equating a Cloud Strategy To Migrating Everything to the Cloud
Meinardi explained that many business and IT leaders will balk at formulating a cloud strategy because it means they’ll be forced to use cloud computing for everything. “Organizations should keep an open mind and partner with a non-cloud technology expert, such as an enterprise architect, who can bring a broad viewpoint in the definition of your cloud strategy,” he advised.
On the other hand, some organizations believe moving to the cloud is a simple task.
“One of the biggest challenges that companies have is that they think they can take what they’re running on-prem and just move it to the cloud,” noted Jack E. Gold, founder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, an IT advisory company Northborough, Mass.
“To get the best benefit from a cloud implementation, you need to rethink your applications, solutions, architecture, and strategy,” Gold told TechNewsWorld.
“They also don’t do a great job deciding which apps should remain on-prem and which should go to a cloud environment,” he added.
“There are lots of apps that will never move to the cloud,” he continued. “They’ve been running for 10 years. They’re going to be running for another 10 years. Why bother?”
Outsourcing Development of Your Cloud Strategy
As attractive as passing the buck for creating a cloud strategy to someone else may be to some business and IT leaders, Gartner doesn’t recommend it. It is too important to outsource, it said.
“It makes sense to outsource during the adoption phase where you might need outside expertise,” Smith noted. “What happens, though, is it’s very easy to put yourself in a position where you’re allowing your vendors to define your strategy.”
“If you want to go out and get help from someone who knows what they’re doing, that’s fine, but you need to oversee what they’re doing,” Gold added. “You don’t want to just throw a check over the wall. You need to be involved in understanding your strategy, even if someone else is helping you put it together.”
Woo agreed. “I wouldn’t say it’s a bad idea to outsource strategy unless all of the strategy is being outsourced with absolutely no direction from the company itself,” she said. “That’s actually a big portion of what major Global System Integrators do when they help with designing and implementing a cloud strategy.”
Equating a Cloud Strategy With ‘Cloud First’
Gartner explained that a “cloud first” approach means that when someone wants to build or place a new asset, the public cloud is the default place for them to do that.
“But cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud only,” Meinardi maintained. “If business and IT leaders adopt a cloud-first principle, their strategy should work out the exceptions to the default choice that will make applications elsewhere other than in the cloud.”
Woo noted that some assets best placed outside the cloud are data with heavy residency requirements (data can’t leave a specific region or country), data that needs to be physically close to where it’s processed for latency or performance reasons, and data where egress is too costly, such as in big data applications and AI.
Believing It’s Too Late To Devise a Cloud Strategy
Gartner contends it’s never too late to devise a cloud strategy. “If organizations drive cloud adoption without a strategy, this will ultimately cause resistance from individuals who are not aligned on the strategy’s key drivers and principles,” Meinardi said. “As a result, this resistance will slow down cloud adoption and potentially jeopardize the entire cloud project.”