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If You’re Using the Cloud, You Need a Cloud Strategy

Author: The SageNet Team/Thursday, August 10, 2017/Categories: Professional Services for your Network

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SageNet will be joining IT executives and professionals at the Oklahoma IT Symposium, being held August 16, 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Tulsa, Okla. One of the panel discussions at this event will focus on cloud strategy. The session will cover the factors that must be considered when migrating to the cloud, from existing data center investments, to legal concerns, to which applications should be moved to the cloud.

It’s such a relevant topic because just about every organization is using public cloud applications and services on some level, even if only in SaaS applications. Instead of purchasing, installing, managing and maintaining technology on-premises, you simply access a service provider’s resources and pay only for what you use. You can add or remove services and users as needed, manually and in most cloud environments dynamically. Users have the flexibility to access cloud resources from any location and device through a self-service interface.

However, there are number of question marks surrounding the public cloud. If you’ve made significant investments in on-premises infrastructure, how do you maximize the value of those investments? Can public cloud applications and services be integrated with the technology you already have? While security gaps between on-premises IT resources and the cloud aren’t as much of an issue as they were years ago, organizations still have to make sure vendors are capable of properly securing workloads according to data governance and regulatory compliance requirements. While the cloud seems to make good economic sense, can you predict long-term costs as cloud usage expands, or even track the expansion closely in dynamic environments?

For these and many other reasons, every organization needs a cloud strategy. Your cloud strategy is part of your overall IT strategy, which helps drive your business strategy. That’s where the conversation about the cloud needs to begin. What are the business reasons for your move to the cloud? How will those objectives be achieved? The desired outcome is what should drive the decision-making process.

Once you’ve established the “why” for moving to the cloud, you need to make your case to the C-suite and get executive buy-in. Ultimately, the cloud is about improving business agility, speed and innovation by enabling users to access the resources they need when they need them. Use your digital business strategy to justify your investments in the cloud.

When developing a cloud strategy, make sure to account for all costs involved. More than a monthly fee to a service provider, shifting to the cloud often requires investments in connectivity and technological upgrades. In-house staff may need training to help manage cloud workloads and security controls that may be different in the cloud. You also need to account for new roles needed to manage automation in the cloud, such as DevOps engineers.

Build security into your cloud strategy from the beginning, not after the fact. Address security from both a technical perspective and user perspective, implementing formal policies that govern how to access and use cloud resources.  Also, just because you no longer need to deploy the physical infrastructure and there are built-in firewalls and compliance certifications with cloud providers doesn’t mean you can forget about security controls.  A complete security strategy is required based on industry standards just as it was in on-premises environments.

Plan for the future, not today. What cloud services and capabilities will you need to support your user base, customers and business objectives five years from now?

Keep in mind that not all applications and services can or should be moved to the cloud. Some workloads can’t be moved to the cloud due to regulatory requirements. Some workloads won’t meet performance requirements in the cloud. For others, the cloud just isn’t cost-effective. Most organizations will always have a combination of on-premises and cloud-based services. It’s important to look at each service from all angles before making any decisions about moving them to the cloud.

A cloud strategy is only successful if everything works well together – your existing IT environment, workflows, security, compliance and more. When you have alignment in all these areas, you increase the odds of meeting business objectives and justifying cloud investments. Otherwise, user experience suffers, productivity and performance lag, budgets are busted, and there’s an increased risk of a security breach or compliance violation.

We invite you to join us at the Oklahoma IT Symposium to learn about what goes into a cloud strategy and discuss many other IT issues facing businesses today. Learn more about the event agenda here.

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