If the use of cloud computing continues to grow in tandem with remote working, organizations will have to continue to develop and build their cloud strategies to keep pace.

There is a basic assumption here that most organizations will in fact have a cloud strategy in place. However, many companies were caught off guard by the number of people forced to work remotely so it seems clear that cloud strategies are not keeping up. This is a source of peril.

“Moving to cloud without a cloud strategy results in ad hoc adoption patterns, resulting in higher costs, disjointed management, security vulnerabilities and overall dissatisfaction with cloud outcomes,” said Raj Bala, senior research director at Gartner, in a recent report.

Why Cloud Deployment Is Still Problematic

The problems with cloud deployment in 2021 remain the same as they were in previous years, said Dave Jordan, vice president and global head of consulting and services integration at New York City-based Tata Consultancy Services. The feeding frenzy around cloud modernization will accelerate, he said, but there will be more pressure on the CFO to justify the business case.

There are many more organizations caught up in the hype cycle of cloud without a thoughtful strategy. Executives are increasingly driven by fear they will be left behind with a mantra of spend first, ask questions later. “But we're seeing numerous requests to help justify the business case so I predict the timeframe between 'irrational exuberance and careful cautiousness' will shrink,” Jordan said.

This is also being driven by what Steve Kilgore, San Ramon, Calif.-based WANdisco's vice president of field technical operations, describes as data gravity. Data gravity refers to the ability for data to attract applications, services and other data. The greater the amount of data the greater the force (gravity) it deploys to attract more applications and services. Data gravity also often drives dependencies between applications.

For example, you might have one application that takes the output from another application as its input that may in turn feed other applications that are further downstream. If you talk to a business unit or user who designed a given application, they are going to know what their inputs are but they may not be aware of everyone that is using the data they have created. It becomes very easy to miss a dependency. And then what happens when you move that application into the cloud?

If the data it generates is not being synchronized back down to the on-premises environment, suddenly the other applications further down the workflow are not getting current data. This further emphasizes the need for a solution that supports bi-directional or ideally multi-directional replication.

Related Article: Why Digital Workplace Growth Will Push Cloud Spending in Coming Years

Take a Hybrid Approach to Strategy

To manage the development of the cloud and to keep data and applications safe, many organizations today are now instituting a hybrid approach that mixes cloud and on-premise solutions, said Alex Johnson, senior director of analytics and strategy of the Melville, New York-based analytics company Verint. There are several elements to making this approach work:

1. Cross-department Collaboration

Ensure collaboration between marketing, IT and security personnel when implementing cloud adoption. Often when new solutions are introduced in an organization, there may be division of the role and responsibilities of IT, security and customer-focused employees. There needs to be a cohesive adoption of the cloud from top to bottom along with a clear set of expectations from each department, such as productivity, profit, bandwidth and efficiency.

2. Define Cloud Benefits

Understand how the market is being affected by the cloud and how your organization can benefit from implementing it. Every organization is different and the competitive advantage offered by the cloud can mean the difference between steadfast growth and fading to obscurity, but that does not mean you should adopt cloud solutions without a strategy in place. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it.

3. Focus on the Future

Have a future-focused approach. The cloud is not just IT services; it is all-encompassing. The cloud gives organizations the ability to affordably scale and grow business quickly, develop/offer new products and services and more. To reliably maintain market share, take full advantage of the cloud and its growth potential.

Learning Opportunities

4. Grapple With Cloud Identity

In the coming year, cloud-based identity will emerge as a function of maturity for organizations that have spent the past decade migrating to the cloud. These organizations have learned more about how to use the cloud and are now looking toward the next stage, which is optimizing infrastructure and making it more secure.

Related Article: Is It Time to Say Goodbye to Legacy Systems or Is There Life in Them Yet? 

Make Security Part of the Design

Security has been one of the major cloud issues in the past five years and will remain so in the future. The biggest mistake organizations make when building their cybersecurity program to accommodate the cloud and just about any supporting security strategy in the enterprise is that they build it to impress the auditor and not to stop the attacker, said Avani Desai, president of Schellman & Company, a security and privacy compliance assessor.

Organizations needs to stop looking at security and privacy as a check-the-box exercise and begin building programs, applications and platforms with security and privacy built into the design, known as privacy and security by design. The end user or product owner should not be focusing on security and privacy after the fact, but rather developers and engineers have it within the system as a specific specification.

This is a cultural shift in organizations' approach to system development and adds an innovative piece to the lifecycle. “This is what is needed when looking at emerging technologies like cloud, blockchain and AI, which are rapidly developed, sometimes by third parties, for the ease of the consumer, not for the security of the data,” Desai said.

Once organizations start this process and begin to think proactively from the hackers’ point of view, they will see an increase in the security and privacy posture of organizations and a decrease in the impact of breaches.

An effective cloud strategy offers many advantages. It makes the adoption of new technologies easier and makes the business more agile, said Doug Kennedy, chief growth officer at Lake Washington, Wash.-based Adaptiva. A key element of an effective cloud strategy includes securely meeting the needs of distributed teams and increasing the speed at which new technologies get added to improve operational and competitive aspects of the business.

With the latest technology, enterprises can cost effectively migrate to the cloud and adapt to changing conditions. These solutions allow enterprises to transition from a traditional on-premise infrastructure to the cloud and modern device management at their own speed, making their company more agile and resilient to the numerous risks they encounter today.