Why Companies Need to Have a Cloud Roadmap

By Sean P Sheeran, VP, Solutions Engineering

As more customers shop online, they don’t want to waste time waiting for a slow mobile device or website to load. If your website isn’t immediately responsive, potential customers will quickly pivot to find service elsewhere – and it could be with one of your competitors. The increasing number of disruptors, in or around your market space, means your number one concern is speed to market and your ability to adapt. Companies need to have the flexibility to expand and contract systems and applications through different peaks and valleys of traffic and demand. This is why your business needs to have a cloud roadmap. Companies need to anticipate variable demands on their systems and design a cloud infrastructure that provides the security, performance, and availability necessary to keep going in today’s competitive environment.

The ideal way to start designing a cloud roadmap is to gather all stakeholders and build an understanding of what kind of infrastructure is necessary to meet the business needs. It is important to include employees from across the organization in this process to make the cloud roadmap successful. Cloud computing is largely mainstream at this point, but there are still some naysayers. Most of them are motivated by misplaced fear and a lack of understanding. Conducting an education-based campaign helps to create champions within the organization, and this will help move the cloud roadmap development process along.

Here are some other things to consider as you create a cloud roadmap.

What Questions Do You Need to Ask Before Building a Cloud Roadmap?
Before building a cloud roadmap, a company will need to consider many questions. Some topics to consider may include: is cloud vendor lock-in important, or will your system require a multi-cloud strategy? What are your security requirements? What does the current landscape look like from the architecture to the points of integration? How will you want to leverage the cloud from IaaS or PaaS? Is a public or private cloud best suited for your needs? Do you have variability in workloads, or workloads like machine learning that are only needed occasionally for modeling? What data, applications, or other business elements should first be migrated and/or which items being migrated impact the business the most? Does it make sense to lift and shift, or do the applications need to be rearchitected? Once you understand these essential items, you can start to group your criteria into buckets and rank them.

Who Should Be Involved in the Cloud Roadmap Business Process?
It’s essential that IT is not the only department involved in the roadmap. Multiple departments must be heavily involved in the cloud roadmap building process. Embracing the cloud isn’t just about being efficient with infrastructure; it’s also about time-to-market for your products and the agility of your business. The security, performance, and reliability of your IT infrastructure impacts every part of your business. To borrow a concept from Dev Ops: you can’t develop a good roadmap in silos. The development process should be inclusive and have different teams working together, including staff representatives from IT, operations, and all other parts of the organization.

How often do you need to revisit the roadmap?
Your cloud computing roadmap is just like a product roadmap or any other planning device used in your business – it needs to be revisited, assessed, and adjusted often, as circumstances and business needs evolve. If you are using an Agile methodology, revisiting and adjusting the roadmap to meet business needs is a regular part of the process. You should review your cloud roadmap every three months to ensure you are still on the right track and achieving your goals. This isn’t intended to change your roadmap, but rather to ensure the direction you are taking can still reach the stated goal.

What’s the biggest cloud roadmap planning mistake?
From working with customers in the past, one of the biggest roadmap mistakes we see is not setting realistic milestones. Understand that lift and shift costs more and is something to implement for the short term, but it should be revisited and rearchitected to be truly cloud-ready. Don’t try to boil the ocean. It’s not all going to be moved immediately, so don’t try to get it all figured out on day one. You will want to reassess the roadmap frequently. Ask yourself if the roadmap still makes sense. Will quick wins help build credibility for the project? Remember, tools and process applications do not cover as a solution to gaps in vision and planning.

Mistaking new tools for a magic bullet solution is another big mistake companies make when deciding to move to the cloud. Some companies look at a new solution or technology and think that it is going to solve all their business problems. However, tools do not replace developing a strategy and executing a plan. If you go out and buy a saw, you shouldn’t expect it to build you a house. The same is true for any company buying cloud services. Too many companies don’t take the time to plan an implementation and a strategy for using the cloud, which results in the project ultimately failing. More money is then wasted trying to fix the failed implementation. It’s important to have a well-developed plan and implementation strategy for cloud services that fits your unique business requirements before you start writing checks. Having the right cloud services partner can help you develop a strategy that meets the needs of your company without wasting resources.

At the end of the day, people always make the difference in building a cloud roadmap. Having a great partner or amazing folks within your team is the key to success. The cloud allows you to fail fast and correct those mistakes just as quickly. So be a little brave and bold in your goals as you are managing your cloud roadmap. Contact us for more information.