Cloud has arrived. In fact, a 2016 Cloud Industry Forum survey found over four out of five UK organisations have already adopted at least one cloud service. It’s no wonder: both public and private cloud offer incomparable flexibility and scalability for growing businesses. Data backup and recovery to become more affordable in the cloud. And by sharing sensitive documents through the cloud rather than via email, teams can collaborate much more easily wherever they’re based.

However, the technology that promises to be cost-efficient, easy-to-use and tailored to your needs can sometimes have hidden costs. Private cloud is no exception Without a robust strategy in place, and without a solid understanding of how your workloads have to perform, it’s extremely difficult to make sure get the optimum results. But with foresight and planning, it is possible to get the right cloud provision for your requirements and achieve a return on investment (ROI).

Tip one: Make sure you know how to calculate your ROI

An obvious tip – but many elements are often missed when calculating ROI. The outlay for your chosen solution is just one factor in the equation. Make sure you include all the elements involved: from the projected lifespan of the equipment to the cost of capital – how much you could expect to earn if you invested the funds somewhere else.

You’ll also need to consider the operating costs: power consumption, and staff needed to implement the new solution and then manage it day-to-day. Remember that you might need to employ additional solutions for your platform to work optimally. All these costs should be included in your ROI measurement.

Tip two: Innovate the IT stack to achieve a competitive advantage

It’s easy to think that adopting cloud is innovation enough. That’s true to some extent, but much more can be done within the IT stack to make sure your cloud is performing at its best.

Be brave: think about adapting your cloud to work harder. Click to Tweet

Innovating other parts of the business is second nature. But it can be daunting to start reworking the IT stack. Be brave: think about adapting your cloud to work harder. Move apps to the cloud and offer new services to customers.

This approach will mean you’re already getting more from your cloud in terms of function and performance.

Tip three: Implement alternative technologies

Don’t be daunted by newer or “open” technologies: solutions like software-defined storage (SDS), Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and open source are well-suited to cloud and offer enormous benefits in the right environment. Those benefits can lead to competitive advantage and increasing profit margins.

SDS can seem impenetrable – and no wonder – experts are still arguing over a firm definition of its meaning and many vendors make wild claims about the technology. However, in straightforward terms, SDS simply refers to a software-focused storage solution that runs alongside or completely independently of existing hardware.

Flexibility and price are often quoted benefits but there are much more. SDS is scalable, so it can seamlessly grow with your business. It replicates data across clusters of servers, offering robust protection against outages. It eliminates silos and is designed to work across virtualised and bare metal infrastructures. All of which encourage your cloud to work harder.

Open source is also well-matched when it comes to cloud. The software’s original source code is made freely available and can be shared and modified. Because it’s non-proprietary, open source tends to be cost-effective, and much more adaptable to your needs, both of which have a substantial impact on ROI.

Tip four: Get practical

Often CIOs and IT teams are held back by the fear of impacting on performance Click to Tweet

There are many ways to find extra returns when developing your cloud infrastructure. Often CIOs and IT teams are held back by the fear of impacting on performance, of causing outages or worse, of losing business-critical data. If you and your team keep on top of new technologies, recognise how they will align with other elements within your infrastructure and understand their limitations, it will be much easier to intelligently integrate different tools and applications to help boost ROI. Try talking to industry experts and looking at what the new and more innovative vendors are doing.

Why ROI?

IT infrastructure is one of the highest, if not the highest, costs for many organisations. Cloud often promises to be a more cost-effective alternative, but some IT teams find that the price of off-the-shelf cloud from big vendors can skyrocket. It doesn’t have to be this way: with innovation and education, it’s possible not only to break even but to achieve ROI from your cloud.