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Cloud First to Cloud Smart: A Strategic Shift

Article by Rajesh Awasthi, Vice President & Global Head of Managed Hosting and Cloud Services, Tata Communications

The term ‘digital transformation’ has evolved for businesses, particularly in the last decade. What once meant a simple shift to virtual forms and online communication, now has vast implications across the different aspects of a business.

As a core enabler of digital transformation, cloud adoption has been a focus for businesses in recent years, so much so that it’s created the popular moniker ‘cloud first.’ Cloud adoption boomed rapidly, as businesses raced to leverage the cloud and support their hybrid work environments.

Many businesses realized while they understand the need for cloud technology, they might not have the correct resources to ensure that they are harnessing its benefits strategically. This resulted in organizations having complex and fragmented implementations across various cloud platforms, whether it’s public, private, or edge. What has become clear, there is a difference between being cloud-first and being cloud smart. In this article, we’ll explore best practices for employing a cloud-smart approach.

The price of failing to optimize an enterprise cloud strategy comes in the form of spiralling monthly costs, unmodified workloads failing to unlock critical cloud features, and issues with performance management. All in all, it takes away time and money that a cloud smart strategy should be giving back. Organizations must begin to leverage smart and sustainable approaches to their cloud infrastructure, including public, private, or edge cloud. A customized cloud smart strategy can match an organization’s goals and circumstances to its ability to execute with the cloud.

Rajesh Awasthi, Vice President & Global Head of Managed Hosting and Cloud Services, Tata Communications

Shortcomings of a Cloud-First approach.

For nearly a decade, cloud-first has been the prevalent approach to cloud adoption initiatives. It can be counterproductive to maximize the cloud footprint by prioritizing legacy system modernization, resulting in workload migrations. Some of the main shortcomings of a   cloud-first approach plaguing organizations are:

  • Gaps between cloud expectation and execution abilities: Organisations often develop unrealistic expectations from the cloud that get compounded due to the lack of technical, financial, or strategic skills required to implement
  • Incongruency due to siloed business processes: The cloud is agile and dynamic by Legacy organizational properties like operational silos, rigid IT governance, and outdated foundational practices are often incompatible with the cloud.
  • Speed over planning: A cloud-first approach is speed centric. The mad rush to incorporate the cloud and its elements across each stratum of operations leave limited time to adopt other
  • Getting the right cloud services with the right workload: Cloud offerings can be diverse, extensive, and the varied and complicated nature of cloud service provider offerings exacerbate the confusion in matching the right cloud services with the right workload.
  • Lack of specialized IT skills: Other than investment, planning, and a cultural shift, a cloud transformation, also requires a specialized IT skillset that organizations often

All these issues can be reversed with a cloud smart approach where cloud adoption is synchronized with organizational goals and values.

Becoming Cloud Smart.

Gartner estimates that 60% of organizations that have adopted a cloud-first approach will switch to a cloud-smart approach by 2023. Considering most business leaders are expected to spend half of their IT budget on the cloud by 2025, gaining control over these costs has now become of paramount importance.

A cloud smart approach entails determining whether an organization has the right mix of private and public cloud, edge, and on-prem infrastructure to meet its various unique workloads, as well as all its compliance and regulatory obligations. To achieve this, a cloud smart approach considers a range of factors: the management, cost, visibility, interoperability, network, and application priorities of a business to create a more unified cloud environment.

Here are a few crucial considerations to derive maximum value from cloud investments with a holistic strategy:

  • Identify and set realistic goals: The priority toward driving a cloud smart approach is to set realistic goals and expectations for cloud
  • The right fitment for the migration mix: Identify the right cloud environments to determine which applications to keep on-premises and which to migrate to the cloud (private/public).
  • A performance measurement cycle: Identify all the benchmarks and then focus on improving them as you progress along with a cloud smart
  • The right investment in services and orchestration tools: Invest in tools and services that help in reducing the complexity of your cloud
  • Mitigation of the risks and compliance violations: Ungoverned cloud adoption and poor foundational practices can put organizations at risk of security breaches, data loss, compliance issues, and budget overruns. They must be contained and mitigated
  • Workplace culture realignment: Use your current resources to their maximum value including reskilling and retraining staff. Also, enhance security postures and use best practices to inherit cultural reforms.
  • A cloud exit strategy: Create a clear cloud exit strategy during the initial cloud design and planning phases considering aspects such as stakeholder management, application, legal and data governance, etc.

By taking on the benefits of all the different cloud environments and using that mix to offset the potential weaknesses of each, organizations can create a unified, automated, and scalable environment perfect to their needs.

Collaboration is the key.

It is a smart choice to look to a partner with the experience to foster a holistic cloud experience. Organizations can choose to partner with experienced cloud migration experts and managed service providers to unlock significant business value from their cloud investments. The experts can weave their disparate IT infrastructure together and orchestrate migration / consolidation of different clouds (public, private and/or edge cloud) to provide a unified cloud environment that is optimized, continuously monitored and managed. A savvy roadmap toward cloud optimization includes:

  • Formulating a well-defined strategy that identifies obstacles, ensures minimal disruption, and sets realistic goals and
  • Improving performance and cost-saving through a well-crafted migration
  • Championing workload migrations in sync with organizational preferences, its technological, security, and regulatory
  • Enabling organizations to take advantage of cloud economics by protecting current investments, optimizing infrastructure resources, and forecasting the budget efficiently along with cost

In conclusion, a cloud smart approach can lead organizations to a place where their costs are predictable, and their workloads are optimized. This gives them a competitive edge to execute a sustainable digital transformation strategy that is aligned with the customer’s needs and organizational goals. After all, the cloud cannot deliver on its promise if you don’t know what to expect from it.