Organizations often switch to default mode when selecting their cloud platform, basing their decision on familiarity – the way we might choose clothing or a restaurant for dinner because we recognize the name or logo. But cloud services are increasingly essential to helping an enterprise grow and become more agile. Cloud computing is key to an enterprise’s digital enablement – how it actualizes its vision for itself over the coming years. When an enterprise fails to think carefully about its decisions about the cloud during its business strategy planning, it can end up spending more money than it needs to – or, even worse, limiting its capabilities and competitive advantage.
How do you choose a cloud platform? Here are the three most important considerations:
- Develop a cloud strategy based on your needs. When most people think about moving to the cloud, they leap to the idea of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), but this is not the most useful way of going about it. Taking this approach is effectively moving from one data center to another. Though this may reduce cost, it doesn’t take advantage of the consumption of integrated services and innovation that can reduce cost and complexity to the enterprise. Don’t go to the cloud just because it exists. Start by examining your needs and evaluate your overall business objectives. Most organizations include objectives such as reducing cost and accelerating delivery of new capabilities; another objective could be removing or decommissioning all company data centers in the span of five years. Once you have a grasp on your needs – and only then – can you begin the process of evaluating cloud providers that can support those needs.
- Get a handle on your application environment today. And determine the steps you need to take to get to the next level. Instead of having to build homegrown applications to suit specific business needs, enterprises can do more and get farther leveraging commercial software-as-a-service solutions such as HR, ERP and CRM applications. While significant parts of the business can take advantage of software-as-a-service solutions, other parts of the business may depend on custom apps that have been created by gluing different applications together, which can be delivered from a cloud provider in the form of platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Still other parts of the business may simply need to pay by the hour for compute-as-a-service, as in IaaS, for custom developed applications that don’t have commercially available equivalents. Because you are already using cloud solutions like Salesforce or ServiceNow, you may consider choosing a cloud platform that meets just a specific portion of your needs. Which applications you use and how they interoperate will determine which cloud provider(s) are right for you.
- Consider integrating technology from a business perspective. Most organizations find they must use multiple cloud providers to get the capabilities they need. Companies that need PaaS and IaaS must take the time upfront to evaluate the commercial terms of each provider. If you are already an Microsoft O365 client, for example, and you find that the Microsoft cloud offerings suit your needs, you may be able to leverage deeper discounts there. Consider the unique requirements you have and the tools you need as a way of winnowing down the list of providers that can address them. Some providers support certain requirements better than others.
Remember that selecting a cloud platform is not necessarily about moving to an IaaS model. In a traditional IT environment that has been around for many years, there will be a number of solutions that have been built from scratch, but in today’s world, where you can buy pre-assembled solutions for your environment, the IT organization needs to begin to think of itself as a service manager that understands the business objectives and can orchestrate emerging technologies to work together to service the enterprise.
ISG helps enterprises navigate the cloud provider landscape. Contact me to find out we can help you.
About the author
Dave Goodman is ISG’s cloud subject matter expert and thought leader with a focus on enterprise infrastructures, business service management, cloud solutions and services. Dave oversees the strategy and definition of cloud consulting services and meets with CxO’s to understand pain points in adopting cloud and advise on strategic decisions. He is a solution visionary experienced in defining future technology roadmaps, communicating strategy and business value to customers, corporate executive management, and technical teams.