Digital Transformation 4 min

Cloud-first strategy: how to get started

Not everything and everyone is in the cloud yet. In reality, most companies still operate within a hybrid environment: a mix of on-site legacy IT combined with cloud services. But even in that context, you can still opt for a cloud-first strategy.

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
Cloud first strategy how to get started

Not everything and everyone is in the cloud yet. In reality, most companies still operate within a hybrid environment: a mix of on-site legacy IT combined with cloud services. But even in that context, you can still opt for a cloud-first strategy.

A cloud-first approach means that for every IT challenge, you first look for an answer in the cloud. In practice, cloud-first means deploying your IT infrastructure as much as possible on a cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The strategy aims to systematically phase out investment in on-site data centers. So a cloud-first approach has two elements: phasing out existing on-site solutions and replacing them with cloud services, and preferably using the cloud for new, api-driven, solutions.

With or without legacy technology

Cloud-first is a popular strategy among start-ups. They don’t have to take into account older legacy infrastructure and applications or strategic choices that were made years ago. There simply is no technical debt. But the cloud-first approach is also gaining popularity among more mature companies who usually work with a hybrid environment, where they combine existing on-site hardware and software with cloud services.

It’s important to note that cloud-first is not the same as cloud-only. A cloud-first strategy approach is not always about just choosing the cloud solution. Even with cloud-first, traditional hardware and software can remain viable options for a company. A term that sometimes crops up in this context is “cloud smart”. This is about smartly linking your company’s mission and IT objectives to the right IT environment. And with rapid technological advancements, very often the cloud simply offers the best environment. However, there are sometimes legal reasons that make on-site data storage the better option.

A cloud-first approach is a strategy

In the term “cloud-first strategy”, the word “strategy” is important. The choice to structurally consider the cloud as the first option for every IT issue isn’t one you make lightly. And when considering each project individually, you still have to make an objective decision with a cloud-first strategy.

This works best when you develop a cloud-first culture across your company. Take a transparent approach so that all staff members understand why the company is taking this route and what changes it will entail. To help employees get used to the cloud-first approach more quickly, it can be a good idea to hold an information session or provide cloud training. This way everyone will know what impact the strategy will have on their day-to-day activities and what it means for the future.

If you choose to replace your existing on-site environment — or even part of it — with cloud solutions, then you need to create a roadmap for your cloud-first migration, with a clear plan for each component in your IT architecture. This also contributes to the transparency — and adoption — of your cloud-first strategy.

The benefits of a cloud-first strategy

Companies choose a cloud-first strategy approach for different reasons. Many think of cost first and foremost. You can make a nice saving by eliminating the operational costs of an on-site data center, not to mention that often over time older technology becomes more and more expensive to upkeep. The advantage of the cloud is that a large, up-front investment isn’t necessary and you only pay for what you use. At the same time, cloud services aren’t free. That’s why it’s important to closely monitor your consumption in the cloud in order to avoid the risk of derailing your budget.

Arguably more important than the cost advantage are the capabilities to scale your business with the cloud. Regardless of your company’s growth path, the cloud always provides an environment tailored to your needs. This scalability is often automated, keeping your environment up to date without manual intervention. Easy management is another advantage. You can maintain an overview of your entire IT architecture via a single console.

Security and performance

Is a cloud-first strategy all rainbows and butterflies? No, it does have its challenges. Security is one of them. It’s a common misconception that the cloud provider guarantees the security of its services. In reality, you remain responsible for your own security.

The end-to-end performance of your applications can also be a challenge. The user experience depends on the performance of the cloud provider and the network connection between your users and the provider. Remember to adjust the network connection’s bandwidth, especially when working with heavy cloud applications or a large number of simultaneous users.

When planning a cloud-first approach, think about the future. There may come a time when you want to switch to another provider. Make the necessary arrangements now to avoid vendor lock-in and its inconveniences such as incurring costs, incomplete data transfers and other migration blocks.

A cloud-first approach for your organization?

Curious about what a cloud-first strategy approach could mean for your organization? Carefully weigh the pros and cons and get advice from a specialist. At Yenlo, we can advise you on how to migrate to a hybrid or a full cloud environment. Our migration specialists guide and advise you to ensure your migration runs smoothly with minimal disruption to your business.

If you’re looking for a completely new slate, based on a cloud-first approach, Yenlo’s Enterprise and Solution Architecture services provide clarity on the shape of your technology stack and the best fit-for-purpose IT solutions.

To make digital transformation possible, every organization needs a solution architecture. The creation of the right solution architecture can be complex, considering all components. Elements such as API management, Enterprise Integration, and Identity & Access Management, as well as modern characteristics like cloud-native, scalability, and security, all need to be considered. Yenlo is here to help you with all of that and more.

Would you like to understand how a cloud-first strategy applies to your business and what it could mean for your future results? Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts today.

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