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Building an Enterprise Cloud Strategy

In speaking with customers around their cloud strategy, it is apparent that although they have a lot of excellent thoughts around where they are going, few have actually set in motion a formal plan.  To this end, I offer a framework on building your enterprise cloud strategy.

Cloud Strategy Framework

1.  Publish a formal Cloud strategy

Leadership begins with a written plan; one that aligns with and enhances the business strategy.  When creating that plan, consider:

  • What characteristics will your cloud strategy involve: private, public, and/or hybrid?
  • What Cloud OS will you center on?  Not a limiting factor however starting with one cloud OS can simplify the approach.  Of course, which Cloud OS is a difficult decision.  Focus on what gives you the greatest flexibility while avoiding vendor lock-in.
  • Who will the self-service model ultimately serve: IT, developers, or departments?
  • What are you ultimately trying to achieve: agility, efficiency, cost savings, flexibility, all of the above?
  • Who are the partners to this process?  Success depends on partnering with the entire enterprise, not just IT.

2.  Cloud begins at home. 

Developing and implementing your private cloud strategy as a part of the total cloud integration plan is critical to achieving the full benefits of Cloud.  If you can’t seamlessly move workloads between private and public, then all you have really achieved is outsourced IT.  This investment in cloud integration will ensure the seamless movement of workloads and prevent vendor lock-in.

3.  Service levels are key

Look for specific metrics.  When evaluating your public cloud partner, what expectations do you have around reliability?  What guarantees do they provide around BC/DR?  What security do they provide, and is it strong enough?

4.  Be prepared to pay more for better service

Tier 1 apps require Tier 1 Cloud.  The old adage of “you get what you pay for” rings true.  How close does the cloud provider mirror what your enterprise offers in terms of SLA’s, security, BC/DR, etc.  Remember, even if you are only placing Tier 2 or 3 applications on the cloud, they are still critical to your enterprise at some level.  How long can you live without them?  Have they been backed up in the cloud?  Can they be recovered in a catastrophic failure?

5.  Evolution, not revolution

Cloud does not have to be an “all in” approach.  Start by moving a few applications into the cloud as part of a test / development environment.  From that experience, you can look at failover to the cloud as part of your BC / DR plan, archiving to the cloud, Web 2.0 applications, etc.

6.  Get a cloud assessment

Many companies will conduct an inital (complimentary) cloud assessment for you.  It’s a great place to start.


About Michael Elliott

Michael Elliott is a thought leader, cloud strategist and enterprise data center evangelist focusing on data center evolution with particular emphasis on private and hybrid clouds. Michael previously worked as Dell’s Cloud Evangelist representing Dell’s cloud portfolio and vision at customer meetings, media briefings, and industry conferences. Prior to that, Michael held marketing and consulting roles in the storage and telecom industry. Michael currently works for NetApp as their cloud strategist and evangelist. Michael started his career as a mainframe programmer for General Electric and held the role of adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Akron. Michael has a mathematics degree from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University. Michael’s recent work includes: • Participation in cloud industry panels and private equity discussions relating to the vision of cloud. • Business development activities with a focus on the enterprise data center. • Sales enablement and training on cloud positioning and how cloud impacts hardware and software sales. • Industry conference presentations including the Consumer Electronics Show, Cloud Computing East, Educause, and the Cloud Computing Association. • Presentation at the International Forum on Innovation and Emerging Industries Development in Shanghai, China


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