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How To Refresh Your Cloud Strategy For Superior Business Outcomes

September 06, 2018

By Siki Giunta, Managing Director, Accenture Cloud Infrastructure Services, Accenture

The journey to the cloud is not simple. Even when organizations acknowledge that the cloud is the best and most efficient service delivery model for them, many challenges remain. For some enterprises, managing the coexistence of legacy and cloud infrastructures has proven to be more complex than expected and some continue to struggle to find the talent required to complete their cloud migrations.

All have found that the move to the cloud is not the linear journey they had hoped for; instead, they’ve been faced with an intricate and multi-disciplinary endeavour comprising of numerous organizational dependencies. Many businesses’ cloud strategies have grown stale and a strategic refresh is required so that new life can be breathed into this important process. 

Build Common Cloud Milestones

It goes without saying that no two organizations will experience exactly the same journey to the cloud. Every company has its own goals; and these will dictate the shape and pace of their strategies. However, there are several key milestones that every organization will have in common. These milestones can help organizations gauge their progress towards their desired end state and keep them on the right track. Here are some of common milestones to consider.

Think strategically

Take a step back and reconsider core issues, including desired business outcomes, investment priorities, deployment model, service providers, talent sourcing and cloud policies. When it comes to IT, your team will need to think about enterprise technology across three layers: Infrastructure, Applications and Operations. 

Technology is just one element of the cloud equation. Enterprises must be able to quantify the value of the cloud, particularly when it comes to replacing large legacy investments – such as data centers. Companies need to build a cloud business case that evaluates total cost of ownership and ROI in addition to cloud benefits, key performance indicators and value realization.

Update the operating model

Businesses should also look to their operating models to ensure they can easily embrace leading-edge technologies and approaches, such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), orchestration, workflow, cloud optimization tools and DevOps.

Firms also need to review their approach to applications across several areas:

  • Legacy applications: Companies should look at their entire application portfolio and determine the disposition strategy as well as the timing, order and grouping of applications being moved to the cloud.
  • Application migration: Enterprises need the capability to migrate and/or modernize applications so that they’re cloud-ready. They also need to be able to replace existing apps with SaaS/PaaS alternations and build new, cloud-native apps where appropriate.
  • Application architecture: Modern application architectures must be capable of building systems by integrating microservices and container architectures; in addition to new and growing PaaS capabilities.
  • Next-gen application development: Firms need to focus on high-impact cloud-native solutions across mobile, data science, AI, machine learning and IoT domains.

Beyond applications

Businesses also need to consider their infrastructure architecture – when to apply on-premises and public cloud alternatives –  as well as other decisions across IaaS capabilities in areas such as network, storage and compute. Security is also critically important, and firms will need to ensure they can protect fully a wide range of services from multiple providers.

Robust change management plans help organizations address these and other key challenges of cloud migration. The goal should be to build cloud-friendly organizational structures that facilitate the migration to the cloud; a task that requires updates to everything from job structures and skills matrices to training plans and talent sourcing strategies.

Companies that are on their journey to the cloud need to take a step back and reconsider the answers to key questions including: ‘What work is redundant in a true cloud model?’ and ‘Which people and vendors are best placed to help me make my transition to the cloud?’

Criteria for vendor selection

Businesses also need to audit the managed service providers that the company is using in its cloud strategy. The choice of managed service provider is critical as these organizations provide essential capabilities, infrastructures and expertise that the business might lack in-house. There is a large variety of managed service providers and cloud platforms available on the market. Businesses need to take a highly strategic approach when it comes to selecting which organizations they partner with.

Enterprises should look for service providers that can deliver a complete array of services that can be tailored to their exact business needs and execute against their business goals and objectives. It’s also important to look for partners that have a strategic vision for their cloud services and have the bandwidth to integrate new capabilities as they emerge.

Reboot your cloud strategy

As organizations look to reinvigorate their cloud strategies, it can be hard to take an objective view and accurately identify what needs to change. It can be beneficial for businesses to seek outside help and advice, so they can successfully complete their cloud journeys and realize optimal benefits. Businesses should seek partners with deep and broad cloud expertise that they can bring in to refine their cloud strategies. The right partner will not only help organizations build effect cloud strategies, but will provide critical execution capabilities to reduce the time-to-value and optimize their cloud operations.

Start today

For many enterprises, the future is unclear. From a technology perspective, the cloud has matured and is ready for committed, enterprise-grade computing. To get to this point, companies need to map out a strategic approach; carefully considering each component of the enterprise cloud journey both separately and in relation to others, because components can intersect at different points. By taking an integrated approach, companies can create unique and successful cloud roadmaps; ensure their plans are executed based on a strong foundational strategy; and ultimately experience an efficient and timely transformation that is aligned to their business goals and desired outcomes.

Edited by Erik Linask

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