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July 14, 2014
Cloud-to-Cloud Backup

5 Tips to Improve Your Cloud Strategy Today

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Matt Johnson, VP of Global Cloud Advisory Services at Cloud Sherpas. You can find more of Matt’s work on the Cloud Sherpas blog.

Moving to the cloud? It all starts with developing a strategy. Here are five tips to get started:

1) Ensure business and IT alignment

It’s essential to have the business and IT agree on the details of your cloud strategy. Remember that the cloud, and therefore your cloud strategy, isn’t just for IT—it’s for the entire organization, which means the business needs to be involved too. Plus, when the business and IT are working together you’ll see true innovation.

2) Identify which technology to take to the cloud

While the cloud offers significant benefits, don’t just overhaul everything you have. Instead, decide which applications and infrastructure make sense to move to the cloud and which don’t. To make that determination, follow these criteria:

  • Contract renewals: If you have a package that’s old, clunky and expensive to maintain, it usually doesn’t make sense to renew the contract when the time comes.
  • End of lifecycle: Many businesses have packages that were written years ago and no one left in the organization knows the language, making it difficult to manage. This end of life software is prime for cloud migration.
  • Agility: Sometimes the software itself is fine—it’s not up for a contract renewal and isn’t end of life—but IT simply can’t keep up with the pace of change of the business or takes too long to modify. In this case, the business is potentially losing money, making agility critical in evaluating what to bring to the cloud.

3) Architect your cloud for high availability; backup & DR are the next phase

Your cloud strategy must be all-encompassing, and maintaining high availability should continue to be your priority. Review your cloud backup and disaster recovery strategies from the standpoint of maintaining optimum data integrity and by analyzing the opportunity cost advantages it represents. Although something like backup may not be in the spotlight in the same way as something like security, the arguments for examining new ways to perform backups now exist to enable greater IT focus on innovation as an example.

4) Re-examine business processes

Moving to the cloud is an opportunity to update business processes, which is critical to achieving a true transformation. Therefore, an essential component of any cloud strategy needs to be rethinking existing business processes. Let’s say you’re moving from a legacy mail system to Google Apps. If you simply recreate old processes in Google, you’ll still see some benefits, for example anywhere access to email, but you won’t realize the full potential of the solution. You’ll probably still be emailing documents back and forth rather than truly collaborating.

5) Determine cloud readiness

Assess different dimensions of your program to see what might not be ready for the cloud. It’s common to focus on one aspect of the migration at the expense of another, which can lead to issues. For example, you might be so focused on configuring the new solution that you pay little attention to data. Now you have a great app but there’s no quality data inside of it, rendering it useless. To determine readiness, map out the maturity of each capability—if maturity is low, it adds risk to the success of the cloud program. One great way to manage this readiness evaluation as well as ongoing success is to establish a Center of Excellence.

About the Author

Matt Johnson is the Vice President of Global Cloud Advisory Services at Cloud Sherpas. Matt is an executive-level management consultant with 30 years of experience in the fields of sales and marketing effectiveness, strategic planning and business transformation. His background includes a career-long focus on managing changes surrounding the introduction of new technology into the organization. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Vermont and a B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Valparaiso University.

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