The shift from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud continues at a rapid pace. A recent study found that 93 percent of organizations are using some form of cloud services, and 80 percent of IT budgets will be earmarked for cloud solutions within the next 15 months.

The benefits of the cloud model are well-documented. The cloud enables organizations to preserve capital, reduce operational overhead, and gain greater flexibility and scalability. You can try new technologies with limited risk and roll out new solutions rapidly, increasing business speed and agility.

However, the cloud represents a major shift in how IT is provisioned, used and managed. Business managers and stakeholders may not have the data they need to develop cloud budgets and optimize business value. IT teams may lack cloud skill sets and operational processes for managing the cloud. Human resources may need guidance on how to update staff skills and maintain the workforce. Of course, cybersecurity, legal and compliance teams will need assurance that applications and data will be protected.

A clearly defined cloud strategy can help overcome these obstacles and maximize the benefits of cloud adoption. The first step in developing a cloud strategy is to identify the business and IT reasons for moving to the cloud. The business might see a need to become more agile, or to leverage the near-infinite scalability of the cloud to support rapid growth. IT might be facing a major, disruptive infrastructure upgrade in order to implement new technologies.

The next step is to identify applications and workloads that can and should be moved to the cloud. While some startups might operate on a cloud-first or all-cloud strategy, established firms have existing investments in on-premises data center infrastructure. The cloud should complement and maximize the value of those investments by relieving complexity and reducing risk.

Noncore applications such as email and collaboration have proven cloud alternatives, and are often the “low-hanging fruit” in cloud migration. At the other end of the spectrum are mission-critical workloads that need to remain on-premises for security, regulatory compliance or performance reasons. In between are applications that will have to be analyzed for the feasibility and difficulty of migrating to the cloud.

The workflows that rely on those applications will also have to be analyzed. Key stakeholders should be involved in the process to ensure that all skills gaps and critical dependencies have been considered. Cloud applications that optimize business processes and drive organizational goals should be prioritized over those that come with the potential for significant business disruption.

Security should be considered at every step. Stakeholders need to understand their responsibilities for ensuring the privacy and integrity of applications and data. Risk assessments may be required to determine if security policies should be changed and new controls implemented.

The finance team will need to address the planning and budgeting changes that come with a consumption-based pricing model. Chargeback and cost allocation processes will have to be modified to ensure that the right data is captured and analyzed. Cloud services typically provide very granular pricing data, and organizations should be prepared to take advantage of that data to better align IT expenses with business results.

The experts at Rahi Systems have helped many organizations transition to the cloud with minimal disruption and risk. Let us help you develop a cloud strategy that meets your business and IT goals.

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