December 17, 2020 5 min read
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The current state of our world has made cloud tech a growing priority across multiple industries, and with so many cloud options and opinions out there, defining your business’ approach to cloud can be a challenge. Recent annual predictions from analyst firm Forrester found 30% of firms will increase spending on cloud and related technologies in 2021, making your cloud strategy a key priority in the months and years to come.
To protect your cloud investments and keep your business functioning smoothly, you need to develop a cloud-native strategy by shifting your mindset towards the future state of the industry, mapping out your business goals, and enabling your IT and site reliability teams to make it all happen. Through the following strategies, your business can get the most out of this technology.
Embrace a cloud-native mindset
What does it mean for an application to be cloud-native? The Cloud Native Computing Foundation says cloud tech is that which “empower[s] organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.” For an application to be considered cloud-native, it means it was created using cloud technologies, not just deployed through the cloud. A software application that was developed and hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) from inception is a simple example. In a recent Entrepreneur article, I talked about how user experience is the cornerstone of building and maintaining a great application, whether it’s consumer-facing or an app that works behind the scenes to keep businesses running. Cloud-native applications are the next step in ensuring this user experience is a key focus from the beginning.
Cloud-native applications are built using easily deployable microservices (self-contained software functionality), which pushes teams to be more agile, update frequently, and therefore move faster. Technologists are leveraging cloud technologies because of this ability to rapidly and continuously evolve their applications.
As IT teams adopt more cloud-native services to meet the increased digital needs of users, management of and performance monitoring become more complex, but designing new features actually gets progressively easier with cloud-native. Visibility across cloud ecosystems (for example, different public cloud providers) is critical to any successful strategy; both third party vendors and public cloud providers offer tools for this. You’ll want visibility into the performance of both your legacy and cloud-native applications from day one. The goal is to find a single source of truth so you’ll want to find solutions that bridge these two worlds as opposed to siloing your teams across the use of multiple toolsets.
Tie your cloud-native strategy to your business goals
Forrester also predicted that cloud-native technologies (such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure) will continue to be key drivers as businesses move forward in their digital transformation journeys.
For your business, this means you must create a plan centered on a cloud-native mindset. While thinking ahead to the next few years may be difficult, planning is crucial for implementing the technology that will keep your business running in the years ahead. This may mean not only building new applications in the cloud but also migrating existing non-cloud native applications.
Begin by thinking about your user or customer: What will they need and how will you serve that need? Savvy entrepreneurs know their business’ value proposition. Now, take that element of how you serve your customers, and ask yourself how you can continue to provide and scale that service in a world where long-term remote work and virtual communication are not a temporary situation, but the normal climate. Once you determine this, create a roadmap tying your cloud-native strategy to your business objectives so your overall cloud strategy is equipped to be resilient and adaptable. Part of this roadmap is having clarity around what applications you will be migrating and how you will do that without disrupting the business or end-users. This migration is a challenge and it is important to plan for it.
Enable engineers to thrive
Once you’ve established a cloud-native mindset and mapped your cloud strategy to your business goals, the emphasis shifts to who will make it all happen: your people. More specifically, your engineers will keep your cloud investment secure and your business running smoothly. They ultimately connect operations and application support teams to the business, acting as a bridge between what your IT team can do and the goals and needs of your business.
The engineering team is responsible for several aspects of any cloud-native strategy, including the availability, latency, performance, efficiency, automation, monitoring, and emergency response of service or services. This is particularly important in a transition to cloud-native applications because of the elastic and scalable nature of these apps. Your engineering team is essential in developing your cloud-native strategy. You can empower your team by providing them with the tools they need to work smartly and efficiently, with features that enhance their skills with rapid response, artificial intelligence, and automation. These tools should help you collaborate with other parts of the team — breaking down silos in order to partner is a key to success.
Weathering the storms ahead
While the past year has brought unexpected challenges and shifts in priorities, the path to digital transformation is closely intertwined with the adoption of cloud-native technologies. By embracing a cloud-native mindset now, tying your cloud strategy to business goals, and enabling your engineers to perform at their best, you can make sure your business is adequately prepared to stay relevant and evolve for the future. The pandemic accelerated cloud shifts in the last year, so increasing your use now will help set you up for more sunny days moving forward.
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