Creating a cloud strategy

Cloud is a key element of corporate strategy.

Chapter summary

Organisations often struggle to define a cloud strategy, or to link it to their broader business strategy. Consequently, they find it difficult to generate genuine business value from this type of digital transformation. So who in the organisation typically initiates the move to the cloud?

It can come from just one source, or several: it could be, just IT, or risk management, or finance, or legal and compliance, or a business line, or the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or a combination of any of them. Wherever the idea originates, the decision maker must start by being clear in their minds about the desired benefits of a cloud strategy. The benefits must be clearly articulated – greater operational efficiency, flexibility, agility, increased revenue generation, reduced IT costs, enhanced security, better risk management, return on investment, and so on.

Level of adoption

Many large organisations now have a “cloud first” strategy, meaning that whenever they need new infrastructure, platforms or applications they look at the cloud first. Cloud first has been the norm for start-ups for a while and they have proved its benefits. Big companies have taken note and are following suit. Public cloud has proven more popular among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) than private cloud because of the wider range of benefits it offers. On the other hand, many large corporations, especially those for whom security is important, such as banks, have tended to prefer private cloud, or a public/private hybrid, because of the additional security, perceived or actual, it provides. This hesitancy on the part of large companies is disappearing. Where they can, they now tend to deploy public rather than private cloud. Supply is exceeding demand. The range of services has expanded so much that existing and potential customers are not always aware of exactly what is on offer. As customers become more knowledgeable about what is available demand will catch up.

Service model and benefits

Public, private and hybrid clouds offer flexible, scalable “as-a-service” functions – Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – without the large start-up costs or technical expertise required for in-house IT architecture and code maintenance. Cloud as an enabler for businesses is radically different from traditional IT outsourcing. Long-established IT outsourced service providers (OSPs) have recognised this, adding cloud to their service range to become cloud service providers in competition with the biggest players. Companies with a cloud first strategy will usually opt for SaaS, thus removing the necessity for developing their own apps, managing their own platforms or building their own infrastructure. If a company does want to develop its own apps, it could choose the PaaS model whereby the cloud service provider (CSP) provides just the platforms and infrastructure; or if it wants to develop apps and manage platforms, it will choose IaaS, whereby the CSP only provides the infrastructure. Selecting the right cloud service provider is important and due diligence needs to be conducted to ensure that what they offer meets the customer’s desired objectives. Some CSPs are more geared up to serving personal or small business customers than large companies.

Technological sophistication

The technology is now much more sophisticated than when it was first introduced. There is a vast array of features which can be added to the customer’s web browser. Artificial intelligence (AI) is widely incorporated. A cloud service can include automatic speech recognition (ASR) for converting a person’s speech to text, and natural language interpretation (NLI) to allow the computer to understand sentences in human speech and text as opposed to commands given in a formalised computer language. The computer can then communicate back to the person in human language. This form of AI is known as a conversational interface, and has given rise to conversational robots, or “chatbots”.

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Key recommendations

  1. Understand who in the organisation typically initiates the move to the cloud and enlist the support of the executive management and board.
  2. Key decision makers must be clear about the desired benefits of a cloud strategy and considerations must be given to the type of cloud deployment used – public, private or a hybrid of both.
  3. It’s important to select the right cloud service provider (CSP) for the organisation. The service model has to be decided upon. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
  4. Understanding and setting the culture in the cloud has to be a priority.
  5. Risk and compliance issues have to be considered. Security in the cloud is generally strong.

Chapter 1: Creating a cloud strategy
Chapter 1: Creating a cloud strategy
Developing and managing an effective cloud strategy
Developing and managing an effective cloud strategy
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