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Creating a Cloud Strategy: Tips for Success

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Businesses implementing a cloud strategy need to realize early on that cloud computing will continue to be a large part of business resources, time, and expense. Cloud migration leads the business into uncharted territory, but there are a few things every organization needs to know when developing a cloud strategy.

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Executive Involvement in Cloud Strategy

Internal or external cloud strategy solutions need a solid core team, not a project team — there’s a difference. The core team needs to be the decision-makers, starting with the executive team. For the CEO, COO, CIO, and the board, effective cloud strategy is a crucial success factor.

Don’t leave technology decision-making to just the IT team.

As such, the top leaders need to take part in decision-making, be involved, and communicate the corporate goals. Above all, don’t leave technology decision-making to just the IT team. If cloud strategy efforts derail, then cost overruns, frustration, wasted time and materials will happen almost daily.

For executives to make the best decisions, they need to be involved from the start.

Team Selection

Cloud migration needs a great deal of preplanning. The best time to select the core team is always at the beginning; however, the effort is ongoing. Taking the time to understand the key objectives, people, time, and cost at the beginning saves frustration throughout the effort.

The cloud strategy team is essential for success. The resources chosen early on will have the most significant impact. A clear understanding of expectations made by the executive team will keep the effort on track.

The most crucial factor in keeping the core cloud strategy team engaged throughout deployment is their essential knowledge. In large companies, the cloud strategy resource pool comes from multiple departments, including accounting, IT, marketing, and others.

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When the cloud strategy effort starts, many employees get excited and want to join the initial team. Too often, a lack of preplanning and decision-making causes this team to get frustrated.

Unfortunately, once this occurs, motivation and commitment slip, egos start to get in the way, and eventually, the project is put on hold or begins with a new team. Before this happens, take steps to avoid potential roadblocks.

Vendor Selection

After the decision to begin cloud migration and the selection of the project team, the actual planning begins. Unless the company is conducting an internal cloud strategy, a vendor selection process should be at the top of the list. There are many cloud vendors, and finding one that aligns with the business’s goals is essential to the initiative’s success.

If you’re struggling with an existing cloud vendor, the easiest decision is the hardest: change vendors.

The vendor needs to align with the company’s mission and goals. Will the vendor make the right core decisions for the cloud strategy? Again, the executive team and board’s involvement will eliminate these early issues.

If the organization is struggling with an existing cloud management vendor, the easiest decision is the hardest: change vendors. Regardless of how much money and time it has spent with an incompatible vendor, the business needs to move on.

Perform a Cloud Strategy Proof of Concept

A proof of concept (POC) helps the team see early warning signs and gives them short achievable targets for success. Remember, executive involvement during the POC shows commitment to the team.

The POC helps eliminate many of the problems in cloud strategy efforts, especially companies taking on an end-to-end (E2E) cloud strategy effort. Goal settings become a more manageable structure and will continue throughout the project. A POC should take no more than six months.

Collaboration is key. The groundwork laid by the POC allows everyone to understand the team dynamic and the decision process, as well as outlining a successful path for the primary cloud strategy. The POC will have mistakes, but an approach to mitigate future issues and risks is solidified.

Read more: Is the Corporate Data Center Disappearing?

Cloud Strategy Challenges

More issues occur in implementing cloud strategies than most corporate initiatives. The three biggest threats to a successful cloud strategy are:

Resources

In most cases, organizations tend to spend more than what is required. Enthusiastic members of the team, or individuals enamored with the newest cloud techniques, will escalate costs and oversell the latest concepts.

Executives should manage the company’s needs, not the latest, newest tech and costly ideas. Making sure the executives lead at the start creates an aligned, cost-efficient solution.

Scope Creep

The allure of getting the newest, latest, or best technology can end in starting over. If the decision is made to try a new solution, start with a POC and ensure measurable success throughout.

Ultimately, simple upfront decisions will lead to more success.

Legacy Systems

When migrating to the cloud, legacy systems and infrastructure can throw a wrench into the project. Problems in a standard data dictionary, or allowing groups to maintain an outdated structure, will always cause ongoing issues.

Always keep consistent strategies around time, cost, and resource allocation. Putting off the solution will create more pain down the road.

Defining Success

The success of any cloud strategy begins and ends with communication. An actionable communication plan from the beginning will eliminate costly decisions throughout the effort. Remember, executive leadership needs to be engaged; critical decisions should always align with the business.

Cloud strategy is still relatively new to most companies. Ask questions early and often; if the answer is “No need to worry about that yet,” that is a red flag. Poor planning will be costly and frustrating, and will continue to burden the organization.

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