Cloud computing is accelerating digital transformation everywhere as it becomes a competitive must-have business technology.  Not only have cloud platforms completely changed the ways that companies of all sizes consume technology, but the innovations continue at breakneck speed.  Big data analytics, IoT technologies, AI machine learning, SaaS apps, and API services to link it all together… the list already seems endless but it’s growing longer and longer every year.  Cloud solutions offer a host of benefits, including cost savings, greater agility, improved performance, and optimized business-wide operations.  Forrester predicts that this year, 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one cloud platform and IDC predicts that by 2020, 60-70% of software, services, and tech spending will be cloud-based.  Businesses of all sizes and industries are beginning their cloud adoption journeys as they face the urgent need to pivot their traditional business processes to stay competitive.

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What is Cloud Transformation?

Cloud transformation is the evolution of IT infrastructure and business processes to cloud-based solutions.  Cloud migration is driven by the fact that cloud technologies can break existing technology paradigms that lack the agility needed to conduct business in today’s rapid digital world.  However, the term “cloud” has been so overused that we often lose sight of the fact that it represents a spectrum of services including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS is your virtual data center, also sometimes called Hardware-as-a-Service or Data Virtualization.  This refers to locating and running your hardware and software somewhere else.  You provide the equipment and software (storage, hardware, servers, and networking components) while the provider takes care of housing, running, and maintaining it.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS is a platform on which you can develop or run custom software.  It is a dedicated space or development area in the cloud which allows you to reduce your overhead while you make your applications more efficient.  These service providers handle much of your network, compute, and storage responsibility.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS is the fastest growing cloud area which usually involves a “pay as you go” model and allows you to work from anywhere on any device with an internet connection.  You don’t have to own any hardware or software, the vendor or publisher run and manage the software on their servers.

Hybrid Cloud: A Stepping Stone to Lasting Transformation

While cloud technologies can help cut costs and improve agility, you don’t necessarily have to move all of your business applications to the cloud at once to see these benefits.  Cloud transformation can be achieved through a slow, evolutionary transition to the cloud.  In fact, hybrid is the fastest growing segment of the cloud market with 59% of enterprise decision-makers adopting a hybrid model.  Hybrid cloud can refer to any mixture of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premise solutions.

5 Steps to Cloud Transformation

Embracing cloud technologies creates a business environment where technology can be highly scalable, agile, and cost-effective while meeting organizational demands. The framework for an effective cloud transformation is one that goes beyond pure benefits, and instead develops a roadmap that applies new ways of working.  Below, we’ll outline the steps involved in developing an executable cloud strategy.

1.      Educate your Organization

As stated above, the term “cloud” has been used so often that there is no single definition of what is or isn’t a cloud application or service.  Cloud can mean many different things to many different people.  Many different types of technology providers refer to their applications as “cloud” platforms, and while there are common threads and similarities among these technologies, there are also significant differences in benefits and limitation of each type.  All levels of your organization must unite around a common set of terms for the cloud to avoid challenges in justification and overall adoption.

2.      Ensure Organizational Cloud Readiness

Understanding the technologies involved in moving to the cloud is the first step, but having an organization that is ready to adapt to an agility-based methodology is also vital to cloud-transformation.  Your organization will need to utilize change management techniques and re-engineer business processes to keep personnel at every level engaged throughout the process.

3.      Clarify your Cloud Transformation Vision and Objectives

An organization-wide understanding of short, mid, and long-term business and technology objectives is required to align the overall cloud adoption initiative to the business case, and timeline.  Utilize a business outcome-focused approach to deliver measurable outcomes.

4.      Develop a Cloud Blueprint and Roadmap for the Future

Without a comprehensive roadmap that ties directly to business objectives and goals, cloud transformation ends in a siloed, disorganized, and marginalized outcome.  In a collaborative approach, the business strategy, cloud vision, business requirements, and best practices are used to determine the required solution(s) and supporting architecture.  This includes outlining which components will be moved to the cloud, require re-architecture in the cloud, will remain on-premises via a hybrid approach, and how the different technologies will integrate.  From there, a roadmap should be developed by your business and technology teams to prioritize the key initiatives based on impact/value, relative effort, current initiatives, and other dependencies.  The resulting multi-phase roadmap will allow your team to visualize the baseline from which your organization will adapt and change to match the cloud vision and objectives.

5.      A Trusted Cloud Partner

To manage cloud transformation effectively, you’ll need a cloud technology partner that can provide both guidance and appropriate solutions throughout your adoption journey.  Your partner can help you identify opportunities for improvement and accelerate your cloud revolution, without sacrificing security or efficiency.

Want to learn more about moving to the cloud? Contact us to discuss your cloud transformation plans with one of our migration experts.

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