How to develop a cloud strategy roadmap that sets you up for success




24 Aug, 2022



A cloud strategy roadmap is what stands between you and a successful cloud migration - or potentially an expensive mistake. If the cloud roadmap is well thought out and aligns your vision, objectives and business case with practical steps, you can expect to reap the rewards of digital transformation.

If your roadmap misses out key tasks, deliverables or deadlines, or is non-existent, you might find the project goes off track. You may also experience issues with costs, adoption and managing your cloud infrastructure further down the road.

What is a cloud strategy roadmap?

Now you know why you need one, what is it? A cloud strategy roadmap is a plan for getting you from where you are now, to where you want to be.

It maps out the different phases of your digital transformation so that everyone involved in the project knows where you currently are, what tasks are underway and what’s coming next.

According to Gartner, there are five essential elements to a cloud strategy roadmap. They are:

1.  Align objectives

2.  Develop a plan of action

3.  Prepare for execution

4.  Establish governance while mitigating risk

5.  Optimise and scale

We’ll take a closer look at each of these elements but first…

Are you ready for the cloud?

Before you can start developing your cloud strategy roadmap you must assess your business’ cloud readiness. Conducting a cloud readiness assessment will identify any challenges or capability gaps and, most importantly, your vision and objectives for migrating to the cloud.

To learn more about this, download our free guide. It will help you assess your cloud readiness and explore best practices for transitioning to the cloud. 

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Your cloud strategy roadmap: 5 steps to the cloud

Step 1: Align objectives

There are many good reasons for digital transformation, but not all of them will be relevant to you. Having a clear business case for cloud migration and a vision of what successful transformation looks like, will help you align your objectives with practical considerations and to get buy-in from stakeholders.

It’s really important to communicate your cloud vision and objectives to everyone impacted by the transformation. Getting support early in the project, especially from end-users, has a positive impact on technology adoption when your solutions go live.

Step 2: Develop a plan of action

At this stage you should create a timeline for your migration and work out which workloads, data and apps will be migrated when - and how.

It’s generally not advisable to migrate everything in one go. A phased approach is best practice. Start with workloads that will deliver the most value to your business and are relatively easy to move, and gradually progress to more complex workloads. This will provide you with quick wins, making it easier to get support for future projects. You’ll also gain experience and knowledge that will help you as you move on to more complex projects.


Cloud migration methodology

A vital part of your plan is to identify the right migration approach for different workloads. For example, rehosting, or ‘lift and shift,’ involves using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This is a relatively easy and quick way to redeploy your existing data and applications on the cloud server. However, not all legacy workloads are suitable for this approach. You might need to explore refactoring or rebuilding, or potentially keeping these workloads on-premise if they’re too complex, and therefore expensive, to move.


Planning workshops

Your plan of action should include planning workshops! Use these to explore the above considerations and also the following:

  • Technology discovery: identify the right solutions for your business.
  • Technical capabilities: address any internal capability gaps and identify 3rd parties who can support you.
  • Cloud service providers: choose the right cloud provider (public, private or both), cloud services and migration method.
  • Cloud risks: identify any risks and how you will protect the business from them.
  • Timeline: each phased mapped out with key tasks, deliverables, milestones and deadlines.

Step 3: Prepare for execution

At this stage you need to get your existing IT environment into good shape, ready for migration. This will include identifying workloads and dividing them so they are easier to manage, and cleaning up your data so you don’t migrate DROT (duplicate, redundant, obsolete and trivial) data.

You should also create a cloud management strategy so you know how you will manage your cloud estate once workloads are migrated.

Working with your chosen cloud service providers and / or cloud consultants, you should agree best practices for the implementation, including controls and process maps, deliverables and KPIs.

Step 4: Establish governance while mitigating risk

If you’re migrating to the public cloud you must remember that it’s a shared responsibility platform. This means that while cloud service providers will utilise cybersecurity solutions to protect your organisation, it’s your responsibility to make sure they provide the protection you require and there are no gaps between different cloud services. The way you deploy your infrastructure in the cloud is entirely up to you. Cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud won’t prevent you from making highly sensitive data accessible from the internet, if that’s what you choose to do. So it’s down to you to make sure you’re not creating vulnerabilities.

Developing a cloud governance framework will provide you with a holistic view of your cloud footprint. This should be integrated into your cloud management strategy.

You also need to mitigate against any risks during the migration. The goal is always to minimise disruption, but some workloads will be more critical than others. Conduct sensitive data discovery to identify any risks, and establish processes to monitor and protect that data during the deployment.

Step 5: Optimise and scale

The final step is to plan for when your cloud services are live. Include in your plan performance reviews to identify opportunities for improvement. Explore options like auto-scaling to ensure cloud resources are scaled based on the current needs of individual applications. Proactively manage instances by defining rules and metrics to reduce unused instance capacity. Optimise your cloud storage and shut down applications and services when they’re not needed, for example outside of working hours.

Cloud optimisation should also factor in adoption, the human element in a successful digital transformation. Your new cloud infrastructure may be performing well, but are end users really getting the benefits? Explore how you can optimise the cloud further by providing end users with training and IT support.

Your cloud strategy team

Having a robust cloud strategy roadmap is an important step towards a successful digital transformation. However, to help you execute your plan you’ll need a team.

Executive Sponsor: key to this is having an Executive Sponsor who will help ensure your cloud vision is aligned with the overall company’s strategic goals, as well as helping to overcome any resistance and gather support for the project.

You’ll also need to recruit:

Cloud Champions: these are individuals in relevant departments or functions that will help champion the cloud migration and boost adoption amongst end users.

Internal Comms: regular communications to those impacted by the project can also help adoption levels and manage any disruption during the deployment. Get support from your Internal Comms team, or use the channels you have available, to communicate progress, celebrate milestones and to get feedback from stakeholders.

Operations team: this team can help provide input into the operations requirements of the cloud migration and smooth the way to a successful transformation.

Cloud experts: whether recruited from your IT team or by working with an external cloud consultancy, the experience of people who have been involved in similar projects is invaluable. They can help with technical discovery, support training and address capability gaps.

Be flexible

Finally, make sure your cloud strategy roadmap can flex to cope with unknown issues, changes in the business approach or strategy, and external factors. Recent experience shows us how important this is, as those businesses with a flexible cloud roadmap in place when Covid-19 forced lockdowns, were quick to pivot and accelerate their digital transformation.

Remember too, that as you migrate different workloads to the cloud you’ll gain experience for future migrations. Being flexible will help you apply that experience and knowledge, and refine your processes as you journey along your roadmap.

Are you ready for the cloud?

If you want to learn about digital transformation download our eGuide: Are you ready for the cloud?