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Best Practices for Building Your Cloud Roadmap

Ready to utilize cloud services but not quite sure where to begin?

Cloud services costs can add up fast, and nothing’s more painful than trying to justify how a project either underperformed or went over budget.

To create the best cloud solution for your company, you need an action plan before you buy – a plan you feel confident will quickly earn the trust of your superiors and team.

The good news?

Building your cloud roadmap isn’t that difficult.

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Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to developing a successful cloud strategy.

Determine Which Problems Cloud Might Solve 

You have your own list, but it’s important to look at this in the full scope of the company. Talk to all the Cs – your CEO, CFO, and CIO. Recognize their needs and concerns. Chances are, they’re going to be different from your own, but no less valid.

Talking with them will be an educational experience. It will expand your view of the company while giving you the chance to educate them about cloud capabilities.

You’re the IT expert, and this is the perfect time to teach them a little about your job. Avoid the jargon and focus on how cloud capabilities will help solve their problems. When the time comes for financing, you will have already achieved a level of buy-in.

List Your Expected Outcomes 

Consolidate your notes from your meetings and translate them into outcomes. Is it speed that you’re expecting? IaaS prices have been falling while SaaS prices have been rising. How does this play into your budget and need for speed?

Scalability could be your main focus, or you may need a high-availability (HA) solution for crunching big data. Storage could come into play, helping with file sharing, and caching and parsing data.

If security is a concern, the cloud can bolster your internal efforts and provide a solution for disaster recovery. Perhaps your IT team is stretched too thin and delegating some responsibility to the cloud would free up the team to focus on increasing profits.

Write down all the factors and outcomes and then align your goals in order of importance.

Perform a Detailed Workload Assessment 

There are 2 main categories to assess your workloads – critical and strategic. Critical workloads are those in which your business is dependent. In terms of disaster recovery, these are the workloads where you assess a recovery time objective (RTO), which dictates how long a workload can be down before negatively affecting the business.

Strategic workloads are those that generate value for your business. In some way, shape, or form, whether directly or indirectly, they help you achieve profits or a return on investment. Keep in mind, strategic workloads can include mundane maintenance tasks. After all, these eat up employees’ time, taking their attention away from more profitable endeavors.

Inventory Your Workloads 

When deciding on how best to utilize the cloud, again, group your applications into 3 buckets – cloud, maybe cloud, and in-house. For example, Salesforce, email services, and disaster recovery are popular cloud choices, as are applications that demand scalability.

Cloud storage is another option. However, if you have high-security room with multi-factor authentication and physical keys, you may want to keep that data within your own on-premises network. The same goes with big data analytics. The sheer volume of data and need for HA may warrant a cloud solution, yet if you feel security is a concern in the cloud, you may opt to keep it all in-house.

Don’t forget about your legacy applications. Some can be tricky to migrate, while others may simply not be suited for the cloud. Assess their benefits to your business and how well they’re performing. If a legacy application has become an albatross, a better solution could be to redesign and refactor it either in-house or in the cloud.

If you’re just starting out in the cloud, it’s a good idea to begin with transferring workloads that rank low in both the critical and strategic categories. Once you get comfortable and gain some trust with your cloud service provider and new applications, start transferring more important workloads.

Choose Your Cloud Environment 

While most are aware of public, private, and hybrid cloud offerings, there are also bare metal and Platform as a Service (PaaS) options. Each has its strengths. Public clouds tend to offer decent scalability and come at a less expensive price. 

While a private cloud may cost more, it provides robust security and more control over your data and applications. A hybrid cloud gives you the benefits of having a private and public cloud, plus dedicated servers, on 1 platform.

On the other hand, a bare metal cloud is going to give you the best performance, particularly for HA computing. Last but not least, PaaS gives you the choice from a range of options on the market, offering flexible portfolios and various performance levels.

Put Your Cloud Plan into Action 

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It may seem like a lot of work to build your roadmap, but once you get started, it will all fall into place. Take time to gather and process the information. Collect business goal perspectives from your peers and superiors and appropriate what you learn into your company’s objectives.

If you want more insight into building your business case, download The Winning Project Proposal Blueprint for IT Pros.

Written by IBM BP Network