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Cloud has become the backbone of almost every business today and integral to their success – especially those that have survived the pandemic.  

The range of benefits it can deliver is immensely broad, providing businesses with the ability to quickly adapt to rapidly shifting market changes, which is a priceless ability to have. Bearing all this in mind, you won’t be surprised to learn that enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services rose 33% year on year to $33 billion in the third quarter of 2020, right during the height of the pandemic. 

However, as the cloud has grown in popularity and businesses and individuals have come to better understand its value, the market itself has expanded, and today there are more options available than ever before. A good thing one might think, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but with more options often comes more complexity. Every cloud solution available to businesses today offers something slightly different, and there, unfortunately, isn’t a ‘one size fits all solution available. So, getting to grips with what’s on offer and learning which works best for your business has perhaps become one of the most important challenges for IT teams today.  

Making cloud flexible 

Hybrid working is now deemed the new normal. The half and half approach between the office and home working feels like a great in-between. But the question is whether businesses are prepared to support their staff in making this transition on a permanent basis. Those that are will have to make the cloud an integral part of their IT operations. 

The three most common cloud options are public, private, and hybrid, which are often talked about like the three musketeers of cloud computing. That’s because while each has its own special benefits, it’s when they are brought together in a multi-cloud environment that businesses will see and benefit from their true power. 

This flexible approach to the cloud, which allows organisations to choose from a variety of cloud environments based on what best suits their needs, is all about taking customers on an adventure. It delivers peace of mind because it addresses the challenges of handling growth in volumes of data, allows them to rapidly scale to support innovation and fluctuations in demand, and enforces a proactive stance on issues like privacy, security, and compliance. The sudden disruption caused by the onset of the pandemic only highlighted the value of agile and adaptable cloud infrastructure, especially when it comes to ensuring business continuity and resiliency in a period of unpredictable volatility. Creating the right, bespoke multi-cloud solution for your business, therefore, requires a number of careful considerations. 

Building your cloud strategy 

There is plenty of debate and confusion about what the different types of cloud computing services involve, what they represent and what they offer. However, there are some simple, key questions businesses should ask themselves to identify and build the right, unique solution for them. These include:

  • What are you putting in the cloud? Yes, every cloud ultimately offers a storage space for data. But one of the most important considerations when embarking on a cloud migration is what kind of data you are dealing with. Is it sensitive? Is it likely to grow or shrink or both in a short space of time? If it’s the former, you should consider prioritising security, but if the latter then flexibility and scalability should be amongst your top requirements. These specific needs can then be cross-referenced against each cloud vendor’s offering to determine suitability, as every cloud excels in some areas, but is outcompeted in others.
  • Do you have the right skills? Despite cloud now being ingrained in many businesses’ IT operations, the fact is that the technology is constantly evolving, and cloud projects are a long-term operation. It can be difficult for businesses to find and maintain the talent and skills they need to make their cloud projects a long-term success – especially when in-house teams are responsible for everything to do with the business’ IT operations. Given how vital cloud is to a business’ future, it is well worth considering outsourcing expertise to ensure it is a success. Third party technology partners can n provide support with the first steps, which includes identifying workloads and assessing their requirements, and share their knowledge and expert advice throughout the entire migration process and beyond, ultimately enabling better management across each platform.  
  • How much time do you have? The answer when opting for a multi-cloud approach is simple – as much time as you need. While the journey of migrating to the cloud used to be a process of “lift and shift”, that no longer has to be the case. Thanks to hybrid and multi-cloud options, it’s now possible to phase this kind of migration over a period of several months, rather than doing it all in one go. This is a much more attractive proposition for industries and businesses that already have well-established legacy systems, and simply couldn’t change overnight, such as the healthcare sector.  

Making cloud a long-term success

Asking the right questions and taking these considerations into account, businesses can build a unique cloud solution that fulfills all of their needs – instead of opting for a sub-par option that only partially meets their requirements. 

Establishing the answers right from the word go and working with a partner to create a bespoke roadmap can ensure that a business’ cloud migration is a long-term success.

By Jonathan Bridges

Jonathan Bridges is Chief Innovation Officer at Exponential-e, having previously held the position of Head of Cloud. Recently, he spearheaded the launch of Exponential-e’s Cloud Management Platform (CMP).

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