“I wouldn't be starting here if I was you.”
This is one of the responses you might receive if you find yourself in rural Ireland asking for directions. In itself, it doesn't help much in getting you where you need to go, although it's a typically Irish response that generates more than a few chuckles.
It is also a useful metaphor in relation to cloud adoption strategies in business. If they were honest, the response most IT professionals would give when looking at the best cloud adoption strategy for a particular business would be: “I wouldn't be starting here if I was you.” In terms of your business, you are where you are, and you have to start from there.
Just like our traveler in rural Ireland, it's the journey so far that has led you to this point. What's important now is to look forward. Before you can do that, though, it's essential to first get a clear understanding of the current reality when it comes to cloud adoption in your business.
At NSI, we wouldn't know the first thing about navigating in rural Ireland. However, we have extensive expertise in the adoption of cloud technologies in Connecticut businesses.
It's About More than Cloud Adoption
When looking at the level of cloud adoption in your business, you need to do much more than calculate the percentage of apps that are in the cloud.
You also have to look at your app estate, i.e., what apps do you use, who uses them, and what are they used for? This is in addition to where the apps are located – on-prem (on a server in your premises), on a private cloud, or on a public cloud.
Understanding and analyzing your app estate will help you develop an effective cloud adoption strategy that is customized to your business. It will also make it possible to consolidate and simplify your app estate, saving you money and resources on everything from licenses to maintenance to integration.
Finally in this section, there is a piece of IT jargon that is helpful to become familiar with when considering cloud adoption – line of business applications.
Sometimes referred to as LOB applications, the phrase “line of business applications” refers to applications that are critical to the operation of your business.
Let's now look at the five cloud adoption scenarios that apply to most businesses.
Scenario One – Lots of Apps, But No Centralization
This first scenario can have the appearance of an advanced cloud strategy.
It is where you use a wide variety of apps for a range of different purposes, with most, if not all of them, hosted on public clouds. However, there is no line of business application, so there is no centralization of the app estate, i.e., there is no primary app that is central to the running of your business.
Instead, you have a whole host of unconnected and unintegrated apps, usually operating in silos.
Scenario Two – LOBs, But Still No Centralization
Businesses in scenario two have multiple lines of business applications, i.e., multiple critical applications.
These could be on-prem, in the cloud, or on a private cloud. However, there is often very little integration between the line of business applications or with other apps that workers use.
There is even less documentation, and processes are not clearly defined, so it is difficult to see where consolidations and efficiency savings can be made.
Scenario Three – LOB Duplication
Scenario three is like scenario two but with added challenges and layers of complexity.
The main difference with scenario three is that different departments can have different lines of business applications that are essentially doing the same thing. Each department wants to keep the app they have been using, often while complaining about a lack of communication or collaboration.
Then there are the cost and maintenance issues that arise in this situation – paying for two apps instead of one, maintaining two apps instead of one, etc. Before going further, it is important to highlight that these scenarios, while far from ideal, develop incredibly easily. Businesses evolve over time, and staff do their best to find applications to solve immediate problems.
This is often done without an overarching strategy. Developing and implementing a cloud adoption strategy will help you correct this situation.
Now for the final two scenarios...
Scenario Four – Primary LOB App with Bolt-Ons
Scenario four is getting much closer to having an optimized cloud adoption strategy.
In fact, for most businesses, it is probably the most likely level of optimization that can be achieved. In scenario four, you have a single line of business application that is essential to most, if not all, of your operations.
All key metrics and insights come from this primary line of business application, and it is capable of performing a lot of the functions that your business needs. It can't do everything, however, so bolt-ons and integrated tools are added to enhance the functionality.
In this scenario, there is much more centralization, plus your app estate and cloud infrastructure will be easier and less costly to maintain. Collaboration and communication will also be highly effective.
However, because there are bolt-ons and integrated tools, your app estate will include multiple vendors. This can add complexities and potential challenges down the road. For example, the vendor of your primary line of business application could release an update that breaks one of the bolt-ons or integrated tools. This can disrupt business operations, plus you will need to allocate resources to develop a solution.
Scenario Five – The Fully Centralized Holy Grail
Scenario five is where you have a primary line of business application, hosted in the cloud, that can do everything that is required in your business without bolt-ons, integrations, or apps from other vendors.
For most businesses, this is an unreachable utopia. However, it does create a benchmark where the aim is to get as close as possible.
Usually, this is scenario four with as few bolt-ons and additional apps as possible.
Aligning Your Cloud and App Strategy to Meet the Needs of Your Business
Most businesses are in scenarios two or three, where there are lines of business applications plus additional applications, with little to no integration or overarching strategy.
As mentioned previously, it is understandable how these scenarios develop. That said, they put you in a position where you have to align your business to the applications that you use.
It should be the other way around, where you align your apps with the requirements of your business and move to the cloud, centralizing, integrating, consolidating, and simplifying your app estate in the process.
At NSI, we can help you reach this level of cloud adoption maturity. Get in touch today to arrange a consultation.