Today, no department in a company can do its job without collecting and analyzing data. This is another product of digitization: thousands of raw data points that need to be stored and processed correctly to turn them into valuable information. Each company chooses the most appropriate location based on the type of access, amount of space and speed of processing required. But if cloud computing solutions are chosen, what should be the key steps for proper adoption? Let’s look at them together.
Why should I adopt cloud computing in my company?
When choosing to go down a new path, the first consideration to be made concerns the potential benefits that, in this case, a cloud computing solution could offer our business.
To make this choice, we first need to understand the difference between cloud computing, edge computing, and edge cloud. We have dedicated an entire article to this topic, as there are several variables to consider regarding the proximity of data storage and processing.
In general, the adoption of a cloud computing solution allows the use of remote servers that can be accessed from anywhere and offers greater flexibility in accessing and managing data. This versatility is critical not only for internal business dynamics but also in an increasingly globalized environment, where agility and rapid access to information allow us to respond quickly to market changes.
With cloud computing, organizations can free themselves from the burden of managing physical IT infrastructure, giving them the freedom to tailor technology resources to their needs and ensuring access to cutting-edge technologies. This approach not only reduces operational costs but, as we shall see, also increases a company’s resilience in the face of potential difficulties, making it a strategic and forward-looking investment.
For small and medium-sized organizations in particular, cloud computing is also an advantageous choice in terms of security, offering more robust solutions against intrusions and strengthening corporate data protection.
Let’s now turn to the key steps necessary for implementing cloud computing to deliver the benefits described above.
Step one: assess and plan
If we do not know our organization’s data storage and processing needs, we cannot choose which cloud solution will enable us to achieve better results. Therefore, the first step is an analysis of the current state.
We start with assessing the business processes and the data we collect and process. This means
- identify which processes are best suited to the cloud, taking into account factors such as the frequency of data access, the need for scalability and the sensitivity of the information;
- assess areas where the cloud can offer improvements, such as operational efficiency or collaboration;
- examine the security and compliance implications, ensuring that sensitive data is managed in a way that complies with current regulations.
Having clarified the current state, we can analyze the existing IT infrastructure to decide what to move to the cloud and what to keep on-premises, considering data sensitivity and cost. The last step in this phase will be to define the objectives of cloud adoption, which will guide the following steps and measure the project’s success.
Below is an infographic highlighting Gartner’s key drivers of cloud adoption at every stage. The first concerns the design of the strategy. Focus on solutions that can be easily integrated and aligned with the organization’s long-term goals. In this way, in terms of operational efficiency, we will achieve concrete results quickly, bringing the correct value to our business.
Step two: Vendor evaluation and cloud migration strategy
Having understood the volume of data to be managed, one can move on to evaluating one or more vendors among the solutions on the market. The choice will depend on cost, security, regulatory compliance, scalability, and the level of support offered. Each company has unique requirements, and the ideal supplier should be able to respond to each specificity.
In general, the starting point is to choose between different types of cloud services:
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides the basic infrastructure;
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides platforms on which to develop applications;
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offers ready-to-use software.
If you decide to adopt a multi-cloud strategy, it is also worth identifying a primary provider. This choice not only simplifies management and integration between different cloud platforms but also provides a clear reference point and guideline for the company’s cloud operations.
Once the optimal solution is defined, the next step is the cloud migration strategy, i.e., a detailed plan describing how a company will move its digital assets (data, applications, and services) from its existing IT infrastructure to a cloud environment. This strategy depends on the choice of cloud type (public, private, hybrid) and defines migration priorities, cost-benefit analysis, and identification of any technical and operational challenges. These steps are preparatory to the third step: defining a cloud architecture in line with the objectives defined in the strategic plan.
Before moving on to the third step, remember to pay attention to security and compliance planning. The chosen cloud solution must strictly comply with security and privacy regulations, protecting sensitive corporate data and ensuring compliance with specific standards and laws. This is vital not only for data protection but also for earning customers’ trust and meeting the company’s legal and ethical obligations.
Step three: design and development of applications for the cloud
The migration strategy establishes the “what” and “how” of moving to the cloud, while the cloud architecture defines the structure and organization of these resources once migrated. This means that the migration strategy and cloud architecture must be aligned to ensure that the transition is smooth, secure and that cloud resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible.
We need to design resilient applications, i.e. capable of managing and recovering operations quickly. Recovering from any issues, such as system failures, hardware failures or network outages means ensuring business continuity and data protection in the cloud. This approach focuses on creating applications capable of functioning even under adverse conditions, using strategies such as data duplication, distribution across multiple servers or geographic areas, and automatic backup systems. The plus of resilient applications is their ability to self-repair, detect faults, and implement automated corrective actions.
Be careful if you have chosen to rely on only one cloud provider. This choice can limit flexibility and bargaining power, increase the risk of dependence (vendor lock-in), and make the company vulnerable to service interruptions.
Adopting a robust cloud computing strategy reduces the risks associated with data management and maximizes the efficiency of the investment required to integrate this solution into business flows. Click To Tweet
Step four: Cloud Implementation and hybrid architecture development
If your company falls among those that require high customization, specific compliance, and security needs, or operate in industries that require both local and remote data processing, hybrid architecture is the optimal solution.
We have moved from the strategic and organizational phase to the operational and consumption phase of cloud solutions, as defined in the previous steps. Developing hybrid architectures means making the most of both on-premises and cloud resources.
Implementing hybrid architectures with distributed clouds means combining an organization’s internal computing system (the one physically located in its offices or data centers) with computing and storage resources available on the Internet, i.e., in the cloud. This mix creates a flexible system that can adapt to different needs, combining the best of internal control and security with the convenience and expandability of the cloud. Not surprisingly, it was selected by Gartner as the optimal solution.
Another suggestion that is part of this phase is the decision to adopt a cloud-native approach with containers and serverless. What does that mean? That companies can build applications that not only meet current needs but are also ready for future technological innovations, thus ensuring an IT infrastructure that is agile, scalable, and ready for the future.
Unlike traditional applications that can be adapted to run in the cloud, cloud-native applications are built from the ground up with the cloud environment in mind, allowing them to be more tightly integrated and efficient in that context. Containers provide an efficient way to package and deploy these applications, ensuring portability and scalability. At the same time, the serverless architecture allows developers to focus on developing code without worrying about infrastructure.
Step five: optimization and ongoing management of the cloud
Once implemented, cloud computing delivers the uptime it was designed for, but not the full return on investment. Let me explain. To ensure that we get the most out of the investment, economic and organizational, that we have incurred, it is crucial to focus on optimization and ongoing management. This includes not only regular technical vigilance to identify and resolve any issues promptly, but also constant attention to evolving security threats to ensure that defenses are always up-to-date and effective.
Another key aspect of cloud adoption is cost optimization. The cloud offers the opportunity to reduce operational costs, but this requires careful management of resources. Analyzing cloud usage on a regular basis can help identify wasted resources and adjust allocations based on actual needs. In addition, keeping applications up to date with the latest cloud enhancements and features is essential to maximize efficiency and realize the platform’s full potential.
Finally, let’s not forget that constant feedback from users and periodic evaluation of the cloud’s impact on the business also pay off. For example, feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and plan future enhancements or improvements in cloud usage.
Step six: train those who will use cloud computing solutions
Structures, technologies, and processes work when people fully understand how they work. Training, in this case, starts with a general explanation of how the new solutions work and goes to a deep understanding of cloud practices, principles and potential.
Employees need to feel comfortable using these technologies and be able to leverage them to improve efficiency and innovation within the organization. This requires an ongoing commitment to upskilling and training to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology landscape.
How do you ensure a culture of long-life learning? Through structured training programs, workshops, and hands-on learning sessions. Or by leveraging online resources, such as courses and certifications offered by cloud providers.
To ensure that the training investment is leveraged, we can organize internal projects that allow employees to practice new skills in a controlled environment, promoting learning by doing.
The talent gap, in the cloud but in any new implementation in general, is filled by focusing on an ongoing commitment to education, practice, knowledge sharing, and being proactive by staying on top of industry news.