Developing a Cloud Strategy

I have written a number of articles talking about the power of The Cloud. I realized recently that, like most of the other articles on the Internet about The Cloud, my articles have had nothing to say about how to use The Cloud.

How do I use The Cloud is a pretty open-ended question that can only be answered by another equally open-ended question. How do you want to use The Cloud? As we have discovered, The Cloud is really just the Internet, and you can do just about anything over the Internet these days. With so many possibilities, a plan is required so you don’t lose yourself in the possibilities.

Start by identifying things you do or would like to be able to do either yourself or across your company that can be done using one of the types of services we have explored in this newsletter previously. Any cloud service, from easier off site back up to document collaboration can be a starting point for your cloud strategy. Now it is time to begin working on a plan to implement this new cloud service.

Let’s use document sharing and collaboration as our example. How many users do you need to license? Will you be sharing these documents with users outside your company? Now that the ‘who’ is out of the way, let’s look at some more questions you should consider as you plan to make the move into The Cloud. How will you teach employees to use the new tool? Will you require them to use the tool as part of your daily work flow for working on documents or is it optional, available as needed?

The next thing to ask is simple, “What next?” What is next for a document once it’s finished being collaborated on. Are you going to archive the document on the cloud service until it’s lived its useful life? Can the cloud service be used as an archive for a growing document library? Can it operate in a document archive capacity? Will you instead move each document to another system for the rest of its useful life, to a system designed for document archive? Will this archive system be hosted in The Cloud or locally?

I am going to stop here with the questions. Hopefully by now you can see that there are enough questions to warrant some serious discussion between business and IT about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of planning your strategy for using The Cloud. Remember that while The Cloud is many things, magic is not one of them. It is important that you have a clear vision and goal for your cloud strategy. You might be able to get away with pushing this planning off until tomorrow, but tomorrow is coming and sooner than you may realize. Every day I see more companies pushing the applications they provide my clients into the cloud while still supporting existing on site systems until cloud adoption tips the scale and it becomes too costly to support the onsite solutions. The day these companies get it all working right in the cloud is coming, and embracing this change will be your only choice. It’s time to be proactive with IT and to evaluate the cloud based solutions that support your business needs. It is time to start making the transition today before your competition does.

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