Last September, Accenture committed $3billion over three years to help businesses build cloud-first infrastructure to accelerate their digital transformation. Further, the company has started a new multi-service division, Accenture Cloud First, to bring the ‘cloud power under one roof’.
Accenture is not the only company endorsing a cloud-first strategy. Though the concept of cloud-first has been doing rounds since 2010, it picked up momentum post-2019 and is now going full steam ahead in the post-pandemic world.
As the name suggests, cloud-first technology refers to the practice of prioritising cloud-based solutions over others.
Cloud On The Rise
In 2013, the UK government announced a cloud-first policy for all its technology decisions. As per the policy, organisations are required to consider cloud solutions as a priority. Companies shall choose other options only if it is better than the cloud solution in terms of security, flexibility, and value for money.
In 2020, it became necessary to forgo conventional workplaces. Moving to the remote model forced companies to accelerate cloud adoption. It also saw an increase in the cloud-first approach, given how cloud technology will decide the order of operation even after the pandemic. By now, many large enterprises have already adopted a cloud-first policy, with the rest to follow suit.
Nuts and Bolts Of Cloud-First Strategy
The advantages of a cloud-first approach include:
Cost-effective: Building own hardware for hosting applications can cost the company time, money, and resources. Post-production works such as updating, replacement, or repair adds extra cost in terms of equipment and employee salary. However, a cloud-first strategy can help reduce hosting costs, labour costs, equipment, and licensing expenditures.
Scalable: Businesses experiencing exponential growth are met with linear scaling solutions. Such linear solutions are often ineffective as the hardware becomes a huge bottleneck. However, with cloud, the businesses can scale without an infrastructure overhaul. For example, in the case of backups, third-party cloud providers automatically create a full copy of the system and backup any created or updated files.
Recovery: When the data is stored and backed up in the cloud, recovery is a shoo-in. On the other hand, physical storage may fail due to a hardware crash, natural disaster, theft, hacking etc. Additionally, with a cloud-first strategy, businesses also have the option of zero-downtime recovery.
Once a company adopts a cloud-first approach, the next step is to develop a specific cloud decision framework focusing on cloud deployment strategy and a few use cases for a traditional deployment. They can start with the following steps:
- Developing a multi-cloud and cloud-first strategy that goes beyond the purview of the IT infrastructure and extends to the entire organisation
- Forming cloud teams and deciding on the features the business needs
- Selecting the type of layers and choosing the third-party cloud provider
- Estimating the cost involved and its governance
- Finalising the cloud design
- Developing an exit strategy in case of malfunctions
- As part of the future planning in the context of cloud adoption, businesses should focus on work across different phases of maturity
A lot of times, a cloud-first strategy is confused with a cloud-only strategy. Assuming that the cloud is a be-all solution for all kinds of business processes is counter-productive.
Apart from cloud-first, other cloud-related smart practices will also help enterprises maximise benefits. These practices include:
- Narrowing the gap between cloud expectations and reality
- Creating a governance strategy
- Minimising system and process complexity
- Adopting only those cloud initiatives that fit well with the company’s overall context