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Explore the Need for a Cloud Strategy

In an earlier blog, we discussed why Cloud Strategy is important for SMEs. Here’s a quick summary:

You need a set of Cloud strategic guardrails that are integrated with the business strategy
You can have a separate Cloud strategy as an extension of the IT strategy or an IT strategy that includes Cloud content.
Agile, DevOps, etc. do not eliminate the need for a strategy that also includes Cloud
The tactical approach and the strategic guardrails complement each other

Having summarized the contents of a Cloud strategy let us delve deeper into the Cloud architectural view.

The Cloud Strategy Architecture

After discussing the advantages of the cloud Strategy and the Approach, next, let us realize the dimensions of a Cloud strategy.

We will approach the following dimensions and discuss how they matter.

Architecture
Organization & People
Governance & Compliance

Also, there are two more dimensions, Security and Finance/Budgeting, for which are not going into details to avoid straying from the focus of this blog.

Architecture is not a simple “let’s plan technology” approach
In fact, the architecture ensures a high degree of integration with the business strategy. For those who are wondering what is meant by this, let us take a look at the architectural breakdown:

This Architecture layer depiction clearly shows that architecture is driven top-down. This is an important point as in the world of Cloud, architecture is often discussed as being bottom-up and there is a disconnect between infrastructure architecture (sometimes also application architecture) and the layers above.

Why is there a disconnect between infrastructure architecture (sometimes also Application Architecture) and the layers above?
The reason for the disconnect is twofold.

In many instances, I have observed that the Enterprise Architecture (EA) group is disconnected from developments in the digital area of an enterprise. While this does not in any way cast doubts that the individuals are incapable, do not understand digital or are not up to date on Cloud technologies, it just stresses that the process in enterprises break down when it comes to the involvement of the EA team happens to be unpredictable as the EA team sometimes tend to be sitting a little bit in an ivory tower.
Secondly, even if there is a mandatory involvement of EA, the digital teams just ignore this step, using the argument that they do not have the time to utilize the aforesaid developments.

This disconnect is critical, so let’s not sugarcoat this! The digital applications do not stand in a separate world of their own, but they want to access, interact, and integrate with the existing data and applications. Therefore, they are part of the bigger enterprise architecture picture but try to scale the fence rather than entering through the gate.

The other reason why this disconnect of infrastructure architecture is highly critical is a financial one. There is only a limited amount of budget available. The answer on how to spend the estimated allotted funds should be driven by the question of the biggest positive impact to the business. The best way to determine this and to set the priorities right is by aligning the investment priorities to the business strategy and the only way to approach this in this context is through business architecture.

There is no blueprint for the result, just for the methodology and on how to achieve it in a Cloud strategy discussion
The results could look quite different industry wise or even for a single enterprise. While HR might be supportive or as per the above-stated logic a commodity process for one company could be the core business process for another one. This drives the digital approach (SaaS vs. self-developed) as well as the customization level (standard vs. individually customized).