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4 simple steps to cloud adoption

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It has become vitally important for organizations to be cloud players. They must be innovative with their IT transformation approaches in building flexible and agile business systems such as customer resource management (CRM) systems, storage systems, complex process automation and for leveraging social media and mobile technologies. Companies believe this will help them respond to rapidly changing customer demands at a faster pace than the traditional deployments would allow.

There are multiple cloud adoption strategies to choose from, but I want to simplify one adoption strategy into four steps: assess, plan, adopt and optimize.

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 Step one: Assess

  • Assess the cloud deployment challenges, opportunities and success rates in the market
  • Understand the business value, IT feasibility and success factors for your organization to deploy your applications in cloud
  • Evaluate and document the success stories, risks and barriers involved in cloud adoption
  • Assess the cloud vendors for cloud partnerships

This analysis will provide definitive guidance for evaluating the pros and cons. I recommend this for an efficient and effective migration.

Step two: Plan

It is important for organizations to develop a customized cloud strategy. They should plan to leverage existing collateral with software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) strategies, as well as review applicable deployment models, reference architectures and more to assemble a customized road map and architecture.

  • Identify applications that are quick to market and critical to business in terms of revenue and customer satisfaction
  • For early adopters, it is a good strategy to choose applications that are stand-alone and simple to migrate so the disruption is limited to that application and focus is on learning from the cloud adoption processes
  • For those organizations that are on the path to enhancing their customer and business value through cloud, it is a good idea to think about IT innovation, productivity, agility and efficiency while identifying applications for potential cloud deployments, then they can apply their cloud experience to deploying more complex systems
  • It is important to know the suitability of public, private or hybrid clouds and the cloud models — SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, or a combination
  • Remember to identify and document what you expect to gain for your business SLAs (service level agreements), what you plan to deliver to your customer Quality of Service (QoS) and what the terms of understanding are (policies and governance) with your cloud vendor. This will help develop a cloud strategy for a successful, well-managed cloud deployments
  • Engage the IT architect and development teams to develop suitable use cases for this deployment
  • Research cloud providers and engage business capture teams to determine suitable payment plans

Step three: Adopt

The planning and adoption phases are closely woven together and have multiple steps that need reiteration. For example, while reviewing the collateral during planning, it is equally important to understand available cloud computing and adoption standards (NIST Guidelines, OpenStack adoptability and portability standards, as well as methodologies for migrating applications).

  • Leverage the cloud deployment architectures you developed in the planning phase and develop application migration strategies, use cases and scripts
  • Identify the servers, the data stores and the software to realize migration road maps

You can leverage IBM Cloud computing technologies and a large corpus of cloud collateral on developerWorks.

Step four: Optimize

Optimizing business processes and software licenses will help you realize the benefits of improved organizational efficiency to provide increased value to the organization and the customer.

  • Conduct “lessons learned sessions” after each cloud deployment and refine your processes and methods accordingly
  • Develop required skill road maps and assemble skilled resources ahead of a deployment

Clearly there are many benefits to migrating applications to cloud. A few noteworthy benefits are called out in the diagram below:

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Globally, an increased number of organizations are adopting cloud deployment models to promote and sustain the market advantage.  It is inevitable that more organizations will want to migrate their applications to the cloud mainstream and be part of this digital and mobile transformation around us.

It is vitally important to stay interconnected and access information quickly to gain a competitive advantage. It is also crucial, however, for organizations to clearly ascertain the real advantages for themselves and to assemble and adopt a proven road map to cloud deployments.

So in summary, assess the value of cloud for your own organization; plan a simple application deployment first, and gradually migrate to planning for enterprise systems; adopt through learning and strategic options and finally optimize your assessments, planning, deployment methods and processed and continuously refine your strategy.

I believe that cloud adoption has become increasingly easier and possible because of the cloud-ecosystem of products, vendors and a vast library of customer references that we have available to us today. And this four-step process should help simplify the strategy.

I invite you to comment on this. What do you think? Do these four steps cover it all? If this were to be a recipe for success, then which other key ingredient is missing?  Let me know. Post your comments and connect with me on Twitter:


A version of this post originally appeared on Thoughts on Cloud in November 2013.

Watson Delivery Solution Architect

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