The cloud is changing, and so is your infrastructure – at least, with continual developments in technology, it should be. But how do you keep up?

From the latest statistics, we know both public and private cloud are on the increase again, with public cloud adoption up to 92% (from 89% in 2017) and private cloud adoption increased to 75% (from 72% in 2017) respectively. There’s no doubt that changes to the cloud offer new possibilities, ones your competitors will be looking to take advantage of. This leaves decision-makers with the question: are you happy to tick the imaginary box to say your organisation is in the cloud, or are you continually evolving and innovating with the cloud services available? Dave Martin, Head of Service & Delivery at Brand Experience Engineers, Rufus Leonard, offers his view on how to build the right cloud strategy for your business.      

It’s not just about individual technology components. The future will involve hybrid cloud deployments that increase complexity and strategically manage multi-cloud services. Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams will need to work with multiple service providers designing, maintaining and continually adapting the cloud services they adopt. At Rufus Leonard, we advise our clients to use these four steps to get started.

  1. Identify where you are currently on the cloud adoption roadmap
  2. Assess the challenges your company will face at each stage
  3. Decide how you’ll overcome the challenges
  4. Choose the right management tools

Location or service?

Before we start, it’s worth clarifying that computing strategy teams usually talk about the cloud in one of two ways – location (public, private, hybrid or community), or the service it’s offering, which includes IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) or Storage, Database, Information, Process, Application, Integration, Security, Management and Testing-as-a-Service

Step 1. Identify where you are currently on the cloud adoption roadmap

Several businesses are a fair way down the road, and 81% already have a multi-cloud strategy. But you still have to decide how ambitious you want to be going forward – up-to-date or pioneering?

Ultimately, this is a business call, which can be a challenge if decision-makers struggle to understand the importance of cloud services. The answer – as with all business decisions – rests with your customers and your people. Once you know what customers need, and what your staff need to serve them, you can build the cloud strategy to get you there.

 Step 2. Assessing the challenges your company will face at each stage

Change is never easy, and it’s important to understand, and document, the internal processes that will be affected by your chosen cloud service, mapping applications and workloads to the services available. For example, if you’re delivering a digital transformation, and overlook cloud strategy, you could end up holding up the process, with significant cost to the business.

Compared to 2017, we’re seeing IT teams taking more of a lead in planning including:

  1. Deciding on the applications to move to the cloud (69% vs 63%)
  2. Undertaking the management of the cloud costs (64% vs 55%)
  3. Setting the policies around cloud services (60% vs 58%)
  4. Ultimately being responsible for brokering cloud services (60% vs 54T)

So, involving your IT team early in any significant initiatives is really crucial.

A final consideration is providing confidence around the security of the information you are storing in the cloud. Understand where your data needs to be stored, and protected, versus ensuring the end performance for your users. A multi cloud platform will allow this but will require involvement from your Infosec, IT and Marketing teams.

Step 3. Decide how you’ll overcome the challenges

In our experience, involving departments beyond Infrastructure and Operations always pays off. It’ll help you find the right strategy to support their processes, and other teams, for example marketing, can also see how to make the most of new technologies.

Taking time to review processes, namely governance, application development support, automation, operations and (of course!) security allows you to refine, and hopefully, eliminate inefficiency. You can then implement automation, minimising repetitive manual tasks.

Look at your in-house team’s skills. Keeping on top of the latest cloud products and services is a time-consuming job and requires specialist people. Consider supplementing them with an external team in the short term, but don’t rule out building up your in-house expertise over time. (The RightScale report 2018 shows that 68% of organisations either have a central cloud team or are planning to have one.)

Choose your service provider carefully. Several providers are trying to deliver cloud services based on outdated thinking, so check their track record’s up to date and they’re genuinely specialist.

Step 4. Choose the right management tools

The likelihood is that you will end up having a hybrid cloud of multiple vendors, with multiple tools for you to monitor and manage. So do you handle this internally, or go for a managed service? And how will the different systems interact? You will need to analyse the different cloud locations to understand what’s going to work for you, and if you have the skills integrate the systems yourself.

For Azure – build or utilise Microsoft – with Application Insights or consider external tools such as New Relic or Logic Monitor. If you have the budget, a tool like Power BI will give you meaningful data insights from multi locations via personalised dashboards or regular reporting.

And finally

Cloud service life-cycles are shorter than ever before, so it’s not just about choosing the provider that’s right for you now but understanding where they’re going in the future and if that’s right for you. Can they show you a roadmap? Are they sticking to it? Prepare to negotiate heavily and ask for a clause letting you transfer after 12 months if you need to.

Ultimately, businesses can’t be passive about the cloud anymore. You need to be proactive on everything from your strategy to working with providers. When you look back at your cloud progress in six or twelve months, where will your business be – and how will you get there?

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Head of Service and Delivery, Rufus Leonard Across 16 years of delivering innovative technology and process transformation for diverse, business-critical services, Dave Martin has built up extensive business and technical acumen. He began by supporting and delivering solutions across multiple sectors, before formalising Rufus Leonard’s in-house IT teams and client-facing DevOps team. Dave manages both clients and suppliers, to ensure continuous improvement through proactive delivery and robust processes and procedures. Throughout his time at Rufus Leonard, Dave has worked with brands such as Rio Tinto, Stagecoach Bus UK, Aggreko, Williams F1, The Gym Group; Pizza Express, The Share Centre, O2, Byron Burger, British Gas and a number of Government clients. Outside of work, Dave is passionate about sport. He coaches skiing, enjoys rugby and – due to his love of motorbikes – is a MotoGP fan.