7 Steps to Build and Execute Your Cloud Strategy Roadmap


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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Whether you’re going ‘all in’ on the cloud or adopting a hybrid cloud deployment model, a cloud strategy roadmap will help you get there.

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7 Steps to Build and Execute Your Cloud Strategy Roadmap
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Every business transformation project needs a plan, and cloud migration is no different. Just as you would create a roadmap for a successful merger or acquisition, digital transformation requires a cloud strategy roadmap.

According to a report from Cloud Security Alliance, 90% of CIOs have experienced failed or disrupted cloud migration projects, with many repatriating applications back to on-premise after failing to achieve the anticipated returns. Fortunately, IT leaders can avoid this by building a robust cloud strategy roadmap.

What is a cloud strategy roadmap?

A cloud roadmap will take your organization from where you are now to where you want to be. That might be going ‘all in’ on cloud with a full migration of all apps, workloads and data, or a hybrid cloud model, with some resources in the public or private cloud and others on-premise.

For the majority of organizations the hybrid cloud is the current deployment model, whether they plan to be fully cloud in the future or not. In our survey The State of Cloud Security 2021, 64% of organizations said they operate a hybrid cloud, 17.5% use the public cloud and the remaining 12% operate behind a private cloud.

Cloud computing deployment model pie chart breakdownThe State of Cloud Security in 2021

This is why most cloud roadmaps involve multiple phases or projects, as you transition from on-premise to the hybrid cloud and then, if desired, to fully cloud. Transformation might start with email migration, followed by deploying a cloud productivity platform and then moving data centers and your organization’s own applications to the cloud.

Whatever your vision for digital transformation, a cloud strategy roadmap will keep your cloud migration on track and help you avoid the pitfalls that result in failed or disrupted projects.

Are you ready for the cloud?

Some legacy applications and workloads can be difficult to put into the cloud and expensive to get there. That doesn’t mean you can’t migrate them, but refactoring and re-platforming will need to be part of your cloud roadmap.

It’s best practice to perform a cloud-readiness assessment to understand the complexity of your project. This will help you identify any issues, weigh up the cost implications and set up a cloud environment that is aligned with your organization’s requirements.

A cloud-readiness assessment explores the following key areas:

  1. The scope and business cases for migration
  2. Evaluation of in-house resources and external partners
  3. Infrastructure requirements
  4. Governance and security requirements
  5. Timeline and budget

The output from the assessment can feed into your cloud strategy roadmap.

Creating a cloud strategy roadmap

Here are 7 steps IT leaders can take to build a successful cloud strategy roadmap:

1. Define your cloud vision

Why are you migrating to the cloud? The first step is to ask yourself this question and clearly articulate the reasons and objectives for cloud adoption. Use your cloud vision to get support from stakeholders in your organization, and to make sure that all technology decisions are aligned with your objectives.

Learn more: How to Develop a Cloud Decision Framework

2. Recruit cloud champions

In other words, identify your Executive Sponsor and build a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). This is a cross-functional team who will get behind your vision and help develop the cloud strategy. They will ensure that the strategy is fit for purpose, that all stakeholders in the organization are part of the cloud journey and that business continuity, security and regulatory compliance requirements are addressed.

Your CCoE will also help define what success looks like, and champion digital transformation across the organization.

3. Develop a cloud strategy

With your vision for digital transformation at the core, map out the strategies you will adopt to get there. Gartner recommends focusing on these 3 CIO priorities:

  1. Strategy and innovation: Identify clear business use cases or outcomes that the cloud can solve.
  2. Cloud governance and security: The cloud is a shared responsibility platform, so it’s down to you to secure access to your data. Therefore, a cloud governance framework is needed to develop a holistic view of the organization’s cloud footprint and the tools needed to secure the gaps between different cloud services.
  3. Mobilization and migration: Any gaps in your cloud-readiness uncovered at the assessment stage should be addressed in order to create the foundations for a successful transformation.

Migrating everything to the cloud in one go is generally a risky strategy. A phased approach of moving different workloads or applications to the cloud and running pilot projects is best practice. This allows you to test, uncover any unknown issues and gain experience before rolling out the full migration.

When choosing what to move first, look for quick wins. A successful migration of a workload or application that delivers tangible results fast will strengthen support for digital transformation across your organization.

4. Communicate your vision

Many cloud migration projects fail because end-users aren’t part of the cloud journey, so regular communications should form part of your roadmap.

According to change management expert Dr John Kotter, author of Our Iceberg Is Melting, the average employee receives 2,300,000 words or numbers every three months in business communications. In contrast, the typical communication of a change vision over the same period is 13,400 words or numbers - this is only a 0.58% share of all the communications an employee receives.

With your CCoE team, develop a communication plan to keep end-users and other stakeholders informed and invested in the cloud vision. Digital transformation can be a significant cultural change, which is why thrusting new technology on end-users without taking them on the journey can result in poor adoption and resistance to change.

5. Create a migration plan

Only now will you be in the best position to identify the cloud technology that’s right for your organization and develop a cloud migration plan. Your plan should address:

- Technology discovery

Hold workshops and ‘day in the life’ demonstrations to explore different cloud technologies and identify the right solutions.

- Technical capabilities

If you have any capability gaps that could derail your cloud roadmap, include how you’ll upskill your internal team and whether this will involve engaging digital transformation experts to support you.

- Cloud service providers

Choose the right cloud provider and migration method for your organization that can deliver against your requirements now and into the future.

Learn more: The 11 Most Important Questions to Ask Any Cloud Vendor

- Timeline

Map out a timeline for each phase of your digital transformation with key tasks, deliverables, milestones and deadlines.

6. Execute your plan

You’re now ready to deploy and optimize workloads in the cloud. Typically this involves:

  • Identifying and segmenting workloads for migration
  • Establishing a cloud management workflow
  • Adopting best practices for implementation
  • Analyzing how workloads perform in the cloud

As each workload is migrated, explore how it can be further optimized for performance and the end user experience.

7. Review and measure your success

Finally, your cloud strategy roadmap needs to measure success against the key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed by your CCoE. At this point, optimization becomes a continuous process to drive cloud adoption and maximize your organization’s technology investment.

However simplistic or complex your cloud journey, a cloud strategy roadmap is an essential part of delivering a successful transformation project. This will help you avoid the pitfalls, achieve your vision and build support from business decision makers for future projects.

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