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Gartner highlights seven elements for creating an enterprise cloud strategy

As the use of cloud services continues to grow, enterprise architects and infrastructure & operations (I&O) leaders should use seven key elements to create a pragmatic cloud strategy for their organizations, according to Gartner, Inc.

“A cloud strategy is critical for every organisation and should be a concise point of view on cloud and its role in the organisation,” said Raj Bala, senior research director at Gartner. “Moving to cloud without a cloud strategy results in ad hoc adoption patterns, resulting in higher costs, disjointed management, security vulnerabilities and overall dissatisfaction with cloud outcomes.”

Gartner analysts shared the seven key elements for formulating a pragmatic cloud strategy during the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference 2020, taking place virtually in the Americas and EMEA through Thursday.

  1. Ensure Cloud Strategy Follows Business Strategy

Business strategies vary significantly by organisations. “It is crucial for enterprise architects and I&O leaders ensure their cloud strategy aligns with and actively supports their organisation’s business strategy regardless of whether their organisation provides consumer services, business services or other products,” said Mr. Bala.

  1. Assess Five Types of Cloud Risk to Address Security, Compliance, and Other Cloud Concerns

When setting a cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders must assess cloud-related risks for the following five types of risk: agility risk; availability risk; security risk; supplier risk; compliance risk. The possible risks must be weighed against the potential benefits in a balanced and compliant manner.

“Risk management must be an integral part of any cloud strategy process,” said Mr. Bala. “Formulating specific cloud exit strategies before committing to any cloud project or vendor risk management is a key step in reaching balanced cloud deployment decisions.”

  1. Question Cost Reduction as a Main Driver for Cloud Adoption

One of the most frequently asked cloud questions by Gartner clients is: “Is the cloud really cheaper?” Answering this requires a nuanced approach, as total cost depends on the type of cloud service and the characteristics of workloads, and on the specific circumstances of the organisation.

“As most organisations have gained experience with real cloud implementations, the benefits are more in innovation and speed, rather than cost,” said Mr. Bala.

  1. Plan Potential Routes to the Cloud

For many organisations, a cloud strategy should plan for various possible routes to the cloud, such as:

  • Rehosting is used to move an application with minimal effort.  This also means minimal change and therefore minimal benefits, as most of the application aspects stay the same.
  • Refactoring is used to take advantage of services such as cloud-managed databases rather than migrating existing databases to the cloud and continuing to internally manage them, but in another place.
  • Rebuilding is used to recreate a strategic application with a cloud native architecture that enables the use of elastic scalability and pay-per-use cloud pricing models.
  1. Understand the Shared Responsibility Model of the Cloud

A fundamental change that cloud computing introduces is the concept of a shared responsibility model.

In cloud, the responsibilities of the provider are defined by the features and capabilities of the cloud service that is being offered. The customer organisation’s responsibility is to leverage the capabilities of the cloud service within the organisation’s own processes to get the desirable result.

“Cloud customers need to clearly understand what they may reasonably expect from their provider and what is their own responsibility. Also, as skills and experience are essential to responsible use of cloud services, organisations should facilitate training, education and eventually certification of their staff using the cloud services,” said Mr. Bala.

  1. Differentiate the Approach for the Three Typical Areas of Enterprise Cloud Adoption

Gartner has observed three distinct areas of cloud adoption: adoption of software as a service (SaaS) for rapid access to modern standard functionality; adoption of cloud infrastructure platforms (CIPS) for building unique new functions; and the migration of current and legacy applications.

When formulating their cloud strategy, enterprise architects and I&O leaders should take a holistic view that addresses the tradeoffs they must make between operational control and management. The approach should be evaluated for each application deployed to the cloud.

  1. Embrace the Changing Role of the IT Department

“No matter what cloud strategy enterprise architects and I&O leaders decide on, the strategy will involve a changing role for their internal IT organisation,” said Mr. Bala. “Typically, this leads to appointing a cloud architect, establishing a cloud center of excellence and setting up a cloud service broker group that liaises between business stakeholders and cloud service providers.”

Over time, the IT department may adopt a role with regards to cloud services, comparable to that of the HR department with regards to human resources. “IT could facilitate increasingly digital-savvy business departments to select and leverage the right cloud services,” said Mr. Bala.

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