By now, it’s no secret: The cloud offers a cost-effective, flexible way to manage, store and access data. As cloud computing evolves, new concepts are emerging that provide more nuanced approaches to cloud strategies. Among these are the well-known “cloud first” and “cloud smart” concepts. But in this article, we’d like to introduce a third approach: Cloud considered.
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Cloud first vs. cloud smart
Before we dive into cloud considered strategies, let’s dive into the more commonly known approaches and identify why they might not serve the needs of all organisations on their digital transformation journeys. “Cloud first” describes a strategy that favours cloud computing solutions over on-premises and/or traditional IT infrastructure. With a cloud-first policy, organisations making IT decisions consider cloud solutions first. On-premises solutions are only an option when there is a specific business requirement or industry regulation that doesn’t allow the business to meet its needs with the cloud.
On the other hand, “cloud smart” is a more cautious approach to cloud adoption. Before determining whether to select a cloud-based solution for its IT needs, a company following this strategy will carefully examine their goals and requirements. And while the answer may be to adopt a purely cloud-based solution, an on-premises or hybrid solution might also be the best option to meet their needs.
As mentioned in the previous section, while cloud solutions have definite advantages, there are certain situations where they simply aren’t suitable, or at least not the best option:
- Some workloads might not be ready for the cloud yet. If other workloads you’d like to move are dependent on these, it won’t be practical to migrate them (yet).
- Certain industries have compliance regulations stipulating where businesses may store their data.
- If an organisation has data that must be accessible at all times, even without an internet connection.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which approach is better. But both strategies assume that a business has reached the decision to undertake a migration or are already in the cloud. So how can a business that hasn’t reached that decision yet categorise itself? Our answer at Proact is “cloud considered”.
What does cloud considered mean?
Whilst cloud smart assumes that at least some data will be stored in the cloud, cloud considered is an ideal approach for organisations still in the process of deciding what to do next in terms of their IT environments. It goes even further than cloud smart and encourages businesses to consider whether cloud can meet any of their needs, or whether any movement in that direction might be the result of cloud mandates from the upper levels of a business who might not have such deep insights into the organisation’s IT on a technical level.
The “4R” approach to becoming cloud considered
As highlighted in the introduction section of this article, there are various reasons motivating the adoption of a cloud-first or cloud-smart strategy, not least of all because it can seem like everyone else is migrating to the cloud or adopting direct-vendor SaaS solutions. Keep the “4R” approach in mind when considering whether cloud is the right option for your business:
- Is cloud adoption mandated for your industry?
- Is the business feeling pressure as a result of seeing similar organisations and/or competitors migrating to the cloud?
- Who is driving the exploration of cloud — those with a deep insight into the IT environment of the business, or someone else?
- Does the organisation have the necessary amount of people to carry out a deeply transformational project such as a migration?
- Do you have enough resources to build a complete picture of what’s in your current IT environment?
- Can your organisation afford to have the IT team focused on a project that doesn’t contribute to its core business?
- If the answer to either of the above questions is no: Is there room in the budget for an external partner who can help you move forward?
- How will the organisation adjust its approach to security?
- Do you have a plan to ensure you remain compliant with any regulations for your industry?
- Have you made sure that you will avoid vendor lock-in?
- Do you have a contingency plan if your cloud service provider experiences downtime?
- Is your current infrastructure capable of supporting this change?
- Are your workloads cloud ready?
- Are there any dependencies between your workloads and/or applications that might make a move to a cloud-only strategy difficult?
Once these factors are considered, the organisation may well determine that now isn’t the best time to make the transition to cloud and carry on as they have done in the past. On the other hand, a business may also decide that the expense, risk and time involved in a cloud migration are worth it to have an easier time later as they continue to mature. From here, they can then decide whether to follow a cloud-first or cloud-smart strategy.
We’re happy to help your organisation become cloud considered and assist you in evaluating the points raised in this article. And whether your business decides to stay with your current on-premises setup, migrate to the cloud or adopt a hybrid solution, you can rely on us to help you drive maximum business value from your IT. Connect with one of our experts by clicking the button below.