Almost all companies are investing in the cloud to improve the capabilities of application software and data storage. According to GardenerNearly two-thirds (65.9%) of application software spending will go to cloud technologies by 2025. At the same time, it is critical that companies be very intentional in their cloud migration strategy to avoid supplier dependencywhich can hamper long-term growth and lead to workflow disruption within the cloud.
Here are some factors to consider when creating a long-term cloud strategy, as well as tips on how to avoid them.
1. Don’t confuse the needs of your organization.
A big misconception about moving to the cloud is that IT systems will immediately improve. It can be a rude awakening for organizations when they don’t see a strong return on investment from their cloud services early on. Stress builds when your systems aren’t upgraded or don’t experience real waste reduction.
It’s important to think long term when it comes to establishing a journey to the cloud. Think about which services will be the most suitable for your company during the next 24 months. It may seem like a long time, but transitioning to the cloud is typically a five-year process, and some institutions, like banks, can take almost a decade to transition to the cloud.
In addition to this, it is better to develop a strategy that allows movement between the main cloud providers (AWS, Azure and GCP), because each one contributes a little something different to the table. For example, for more sophisticated machine learning for analytics, GCP is probably the best option. But Microsoft workloads must run in Azure. Plus, it’s likely that as your organization’s data grows, your needs will change as well, and this flexibility will ease those growing pains.
2. Become cloud native step by step.
Understanding the technical infrastructure, as well as your organization’s overall business strategy inside and out, will help avoid vendor lock-in. By specifically defining the expected business outcomes after moving to the cloud, your organization won’t be forced to purchase features or software that won’t drive growth or efficiency.
Before beginning this journey, IT leaders should ask themselves: Do we have the team and resources we need to take us to a cloud-native state? Your employees may need to undergo some serious training to run the new systems operating in the cloud, or you may need to hire talent with specialized skill sets that will help run the technology effectively. There is also the consideration of cost and whether it is worth operating on your own infrastructure rather than using a managed service. This cost-benefit analysis is critical in deciding which solutions to start with and which ones can be added later.
As your company grows, your strategy could change to include managed services because there will be no need to hire different people for each system, eliminating the heavy lifting in-house. For example, instead of internal IT teams managing data migration from one cloud to another, organizations will outsource a solution that can handle data deployment, migration, disaster recovery, and other services. But operating across multiple systems will only be successful if these solutions are not bogged down by heavy workloads and provide the flexibility of data growth and vendor fluctuation that I continue to emphasize.
3. There are telltale signs that you are trapped.
Once your business establishes a clear strategy for how to run cloud systems, the next step is to choose the services that will help your organization achieve business and technical goals. The easiest way to tell if a provider is forcing a company to lock-in is if they don’t allow flexibility, whether that’s clear in the contract, or if their systems aren’t capable of running across multiple cloud providers. As a business, you need to invest in solutions that will run on any of the major cloud providers. These systems should be able to integrate seamlessly and data should be able to be transferred without thinking. Otherwise, the long-term cost will be significant.
The platforms your organization chose should provide access to data in a simple way so that it can be easily moved at any time. Often the data will be locked in a single location and it becomes a hassle and expense to move it elsewhere. But since data is changing and growing all the time, you may quickly realize that your data could be used differently than originally intended. Being able to export this data and move it to another platform should be easy and integrated.
4. Remember, lockdown can be resolved.
If your organization ends up in a sticky situation, it’s best to stay calm and remember that it’s not the end of the world. The first step is to evaluate other technologies that can compete with the current solution. Once a solid negotiation strategy is in place, contact the incumbent provider to let them know that your organization is willing to walk away if they are not willing to be more flexible. Hopefully, the incentives create room for providers to be more accommodating. If you really find yourself in a bind, review the terms and conditions of the contract to find a way out of it. Certain clauses may provide an escape route, but hopefully it never gets to this point.
While caution is essential, there are also red flags for up-and-coming vendors. The best providers have multi-cloud availability and allow companies to move between cloud providers, understanding their changing needs.
Realizing your business needs to determine which services are best suited for your workloads is a critical first step in the journey to the cloud, but it’s just as important to stick with services that can keep your organization innovating without worry. due to storage issues or slow runtime. Think long term. What will happen to your systems if you need to support similar workloads across multiple cloud providers? Does your data depend on applications running on different cloud providers? Most of the time, vendors come with good intentions for their customers, but as an IT leader, I recommend keeping these tricks in your back pocket so you can be prepared and ensure a successful long-term journey to the cloud.