Cloud Strategy: A Necessity?

I have recently been asked, as well as taken part in a conversation among CTOs, Directors and IT Managers who have been asking the same question: “How necessary is it to have a cloud strategy for your business?”

As with many questions of this nature, there are two answers: the simple answer, and the not-so-simple answer.

The simple answer: yes, it is necessary to have a cloud strategy for your business.

Now that is out of the way, and I know many of you will already be saying “but I only operate a simple website for my business, why do I need a cloud strategy” or “we only need the one server, and ours is doing fine, why do we need the cloud?”. So, let me explain.

And this is the not-so-simple answer.

Businesses these days have one thing in common. An online presence. If your business does not have an online presence, then chances are you are not or do not have a CTO, IT Director or IT Manager in your business. Furthermore, you probably aren’t reading this article.

Whether your online presence is a simple domain hosting a static website, an e-commerce site, a SaaS platform or another solution hosted online, you should consider the cloud for your business. But let me make one thing very clear: your strategy may be as simple as we do not need the cloud.

That is it. Your strategy doesn’t need to enforce the use of AWS, Azure or any other cloud provider. It doesn’t need to state that you need to switch to using virtual machines with auto-scaling. It doesn’t need to switch to hosting your databases on a PaaS database. Instead your strategy could be as simple as investigating what is available via the cloud – and you should perform your due diligence on the different cloud providers – to figure out what services they offer, what services you currently use, what you know you will need in the near future (next 12 months) and what you could need in the next three years.

This isn’t any different from your normal strategy for your systems, except you are looking at things from the perspective of the cloud.

If you find that your server setup changes often, then you may benefit from something like Amazon’s EC2, where you can spin up servers within minutes and decommission them just as quickly. If you’re a small business or start-up with a small budget for the running costs of your infrastructure, then auto-scaling and burstable instances may be a cost saver for you while beig able to support your expanding user base.

Does your company have a team of developers who need to quickly test a change to your setup, but you do not have the resources to bring a new server online quickly to make a configuration or hardware change without doing this directly on your production systems? Then the cloud could be for you.

But… you may have a static set of servers that perform well and can handle your application as well as being capable of handling your peak load, and haven’t had cause for concern or need to make changes quickly, then the cloud may not be for you. And this is absolutely fine.

Having a Cloud Strategy seems to be confused with switching to cloud hosting and services, but if you do not need any PaaS or IaaS or you find that there is not cost, resiliency or scalability benefit to be gained from doing so, then this is your cloud strategy. It also means that in 12 months time, you can review your Cloud Strategy and you won’t have to perform as much due diligence, or make full investigations again; just revise what you have already done to find out if the position of your business, and your online presence, has moved on to make the cloud a viable option or not.

Review, revise and repeat in 12 months.

You may find you never see benefit in switching to the cloud, depending on what your presence and business model is, but you may find that while you are not ready for the cloud now, you may gain benefit in the future. Having performed this review and strategy analysis puts you in a better position for the next review.

Now you have a cloud strategy in place that explains the decision not to use the cloud and potentially the criteria that may make the cloud viable.

So, the simple answer is: yes, it is necessary to have a cloud strategy for your business.

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