4 Things to Consider When Framing a Cloud Strategy

4 Things to Consider When Framing a Cloud Strategy

Check it out what you will find on this article about cloud strategy:

The pace at which new technology is making inroads into modern business landscape is having many organizations struggling to keep up. Case in point, the once confusing cloud computing is now (widely) understood to be a competitive differentiator. And while the boons of the new nebulous ways of working are all too real, the fact is companies without a well defined cloud strategy will find itself hitting many deadends and u-turns. So, what do you do if your cloud service provider suddenly declares bankruptcy, as in the case with Nirvanix, which only gave its customers a week to move data. Or, what if your onsite WAN simply cannot handle large volumes of data? Finally, even though cloud service providers are notorious for observing strict security, there are always those outliers who may overlook an update or two and face a hack.

The fact remains that making sure your cloud investments actually result in the targeted productivity increase while keeping costs low and maintaining security is something your cloud strategy will be responsible for. Here are 5 questions your cloud strategy needs to answer so that everything goes without a hitch…

Which Business Functions (Really) Needs Cloud Computing?

Regardless of what you may have heard out there, you don’t have to go cloud or go home. Moving to the cloud needs to make good business sense, so, only after a thorough analysis of each of your business functions, you should decide whether to move certain applications to the cloud or not. For instance, you may in the course of your audit discover that certain applications are not even used as much as you thought. Or, the labor costs of migrating to the cloud may be prohibitively high. In highly regulated industries, moving applications or even data to a public cloud may be against compliance. Finally, you may even want to keep proprietary data or information closer home and behind lock and key. Consider understanding your technology stack inside out first. Famed IT writer and tech evangelist Eric D. Schabell suggests companies understand their IT baseline including each application’s situation and performance requirements. If the performance doesn’t seem adequate, then you may be tempted to move the app to the cloud. However, Schabell suggests you ask the following questions first…

  • How long did this low-utilization exist?
  • Why wasn’t it caught earlier?
  • Isn’t there a process or effective monitoring in place?
  • Do you really need a cloud to fix this? Or just a better process for both getting and managing your resources?
  • Will you have a better process in the cloud?

Remote working is one of the bigger advantages of cloud computing. Here’s what to keep in mind when working from home.

How Will We Manage, Integrate and Govern Hybrid Environments?

More often than not, you will find yourself using a multi-cloud architecture that can use disparate cloud based applications and technologies. Since decisions made are fast, decentralized and democratized having a well thought-out cloud governance policy becomes crucial. For starters, your governance policy is best founded on a model of continuous learning and development. Dedicated cloud management tools can also be made a part of your cloud strategy. These tools allow IT managers to have complete control over users, Access Control Lists, applications and data. Even so, it’s best not to use these tools in fire and forget mode. Make sure there are policies in place that leverage the tool’s advantages to its fullest. Integration can prove to be a challenge in a multi-cloud environment. Consider finding out which all services/apps your chosen cloud service can natively integrate with. While popular services like Salesforce offer a plethora of integrations, less popular apps may need a customized approach particularly if they need to work with legacy systems. When creating your own API, your developers will need to consider all of the application’s update cycle and the effect it will have down the value chain before beginning.

Finally, consider implementing RBAC (Role Based Access Control) throughout all your multi-cloud environment. Each infrastructure you use will have its own identity service, so, making all of them work seamlessly across the breadth of your technology stack will become a priority. Unified Access Management as its known consists of technologies and best practices that enable companies to provide access to users across a wide array on/off-premise cloud services and devices. UAM services come with single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, dynamically provisioning and deprovisioning users and native RBAC support. Thinking of developing your own tools? Think again!

How Will the Cloud Strategy Change Our Existing Data Center and Infrastructure?

As 62% of IT leaders believe that their legacy infrastructure is a stumbling block to implementing cloud strategy, the question of how cloud will affect it needs to be answered. Indeed the modern datacenter is going through massive transformation and companies looking to invest in cloud technologies should learn how their onsite setups can be updated, too. While the exact nature of data center transformation you will need to undertake will be unique and depend upon your specific requirements, some common areas include… Network virtualization: Removing hardware components of  your network with logic-based software pieces such as Virtual LANS, Virtual Machines, storage devices and software containers. Private clouds: These can be publicly hosted, privately available or on-premise only. A company’s data center can host its own private cloud which will come with greater control and flexibility albeit at the cost of server space maintenance. Modern security standards: Consists of zero trust architecture which treats every piece of data as suspicious, physical access control, advanced endpoint security and security audits.

Business Process Automation: Implementing applications and procedures to automate as many of a business’s non-critical functions as possible. Software applications, robotics and Artificial Intelligence are all methods through which BPA can be achieved.

How Will We Handle Security?

The cloud brings with it numerous enablers, however, such a federated way of working can also increase security threats. For starters, companies need to become used to the Cloud Shared Resource Model that lays out ownership responsibilities between tenants and service providers. If you are going to be using a mix of IaaS, SaaS, PaaS and on-premise solutions, then you will need to manage a wide array of responsibilities, too. Some measures you should look into can include… Access Control: Includes RBAC and other processes that enable data access to users with certain rights and privileges. Access Control systems can use passwords, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), biometric systems and security tokens to allow or disallow access. Identity Management (IAM): IAM concerns itself with authentication, while Access Management (which it sounds very familiar to) deals with authorization. Good access management practices require sound identity management at its core. Ensuring users provide all the required information and securing collected information properly will help enforce your cloud strategy. Data integrity: Ensuring data stored is complete and accurate. The data should be free from tampering, improper modifications and fabrications. Data encryption: Both flowing and stored data needs to be encrypted. Cloud cryptography can be used to encrypt data at system level. Be wary though, data encryption can inflate costs as it increases data bandwidth.

Part of managing your hybrid cloud environment will include device management. As your workers will no doubt be bringing in their own devices, consider having a strong BYOD policy.

Conclusion

Cloud strategy should be seen as an ever evolving discipline that takes into account new threats and opportunities as and when they emerge. Constantly re-evaluating your policies and procedures, coming up with new ways to test and track your cloud’s performance will help you get the best out of your efforts here. Remember that the cloud is part of a new way of enabling productivity which encourages fast, remote and highly collaborative working. In other words, your cloud strategy is only one part of the puzzle. The other will consist of managing people, their expectations and skills such that the strategy helps them get good results. While the sheer scope of cloud can seem intimidating, you can always start easy. Runrun.it is a cloud based time tracking and productivity tool built from the ground up to facilitate remote working and real time task management. Feel free to dive right in and check out how easy it is for yourself. We will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

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