Blog Insights Cloud strategy and adoption roadmap for businesses
December 5, 2019
6 min read

Cloud strategy and adoption roadmap for businesses

Everything you need to know for transforming your business to the cloud and how to plan out the perfect strategy for it.


Organizations continue to focus on scalability and growth, and cloud can be a valuable asset in those strategies. When it comes to cloud adoption, not every organization takes the same path – some already work in multiple clouds, some work in industries with strict compliance standards, and some may only be starting their cloud journey.

It’s estimated that investments in infrastructure to support cloud computing account for more than a third of all IT spending, and teams want to make sure they’re investing in the right things that benefit them for the long-term. In order to implement the best cloud strategies to meet your needs, a cloud adoption roadmap should have four key steps:

  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Optimization

What is cloud adoption?

Cloud adoption aims to mitigate risk, reduce costs, and gain organizational scalability of database capabilities. “The cloud” refers to software and services that live and operate online rather than in an on-premise network of servers or local computers, and it creates incomparable flexibility in daily operations. The cloud provides the necessary speed for an organization to launch new releases quickly, securely, and efficiently.

Assessing cloud-readiness

Cloud adoption does not guarantee scalability and growth on its own. In order for cloud implementation to be successful, organizations have to identify challenges and expertise gaps that affect their cloud-readiness. For example, a lift-and-shift to the cloud isn’t going to produce great results if existing business applications are monolithic and/or outdated. In this scenario, companies will need to commit to an application modernization strategy that makes a cloud investment worthwhile.

For large enterprises currently working in a traditional IT environment, there may be internal barriers such as lack of organizational buy-in, reluctance to invest the required resources in a multiyear effort, or even regulatory and compliance restraints. On average, enterprise adoption remains low at around 20%, so it may be beneficial for these organizations to adopt cloud’s agile and automated operating model within their traditional IT, at least in the short-term.

As part of the assessment stage of your cloud adoption roadmap, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do we have the internal expertise necessary for a cloud migration or will we need to implement an education or hiring plan?
  2. Do we have industry requirements or compliance regulations to consider?
  3. Will we need to tackle legacy application modernization as well?
  4. What strategies have worked for similar companies in similar industries?

Creating a plan

After identifying challenges and opportunities to cloud adoption, the work on an implementation plan begins. Whether it’s a cloud transformation or just migrating from one cloud to another, it’s important to create actionable steps and have the right leadership in place to guide the process.

Keeping your assessment in mind, your organization will need to decide which clouds and cloud models work best for your needs and business goals. You’ll need to evaluate public, private, or hybrid clouds, in addition to SaaS, IaaS and PaaS cloud models, to determine which combination fits within your limitations. Having leaders with expertise in these areas of cloud computing, rather than relying on information from the cloud service providers themselves, will ensure that decisions are unbiased with your unique needs in mind.

cloud models

But what if you want to use multiple cloud providers? This is where a multicloud approach can be beneficial.

What is multicloud?

Multicloud describes how enterprises use multiple cloud providers to meet different technical or business requirements. At its core, multicloud is made possible through cloud-native applications built from containers using services and allows for multiple services to be managed in one architecture. Research indicates 85% of enterprises currently operate in multiple clouds.

During the planning phase of your cloud roadmap, consider the following:

  1. Do we have internal expertise to make sure we’re making the right decisions?
  2. Have we evaluated the different cloud models?
  3. Would a multicloud approach be a good fit?

Putting plans into action

The implementation phase usually requires multiple steps and thrives when teams are able to communicate and collaborate with each other. As plans change (and they inevitably will), high visibility ensures teams can adapt.

In our recent migration from Azure to GCP, we documented our progress publicly and leaned on three of our core values: efficiency, iteration, and transparency. We believe in taking small steps and looking for the most boring solutions because that allows us to get feedback quickly and reduce cycle times. Whether migrating to the cloud for the first time, or just moving from one cloud to another, things rarely ever go smoothly. By practicing iteration, we were able to course correct and come up with the right solutions quickly. Learn how we put our values into action and watch our presentation at Google Cloud Next ‘19.

GitLab’s journey from Azure to GCP

When implementing cloud strategies, expect your approach to DevOps to change as well.

DevOps is all about developers and operations working together and using the cloud as a common language, and cloud native app development will require a shift to a DevOps operating structure. Once you’ve decided on the cloud service and deployment models in your adoption roadmap, you’ll also need to evaluate which DevOps tools support your cloud initiatives. Developer tools have a high capacity for driving cloud usage because once you have your application code hosted, the natural next step is finding a place to deploy it. For example, if you decided during the planning phase to adopt multicloud, having cloud-agnostic tools will play a big role in the success of that strategy.

During the implementation phase of your cloud roadmap, consider the following:

  1. Take small steps and practice iteration so you can course correct effectively.
  2. Make sure teams have visibility into the cloud process and can collaborate as things progress.
  3. Ensure your DevOps structure will be able to support your cloud and cloud native application development initiatives.
  4. Evaluate developer tools and consider if cloud-agnostic tools would allow more flexibility with multiple clouds.

Cloud optimization and beyond

While there will inevitably be a point when cloud models and DevOps tools have been implemented, a cloud adoption roadmap is really a never-ending journey for continuous improvement. By the time a cloud adoption timeline has been completed, there will be new technologies and new paths for cloud optimization already on the horizon. A solution you implemented may need to be deprecated in favor of something that works a little better. A valuable part of iteration is making decisions and acting quickly, and that is a process that never ends.

In Cloud Powers the New Platform Economy, Forrester explains that you must automate, integrate, and orchestrate all the moving parts of your cloud to keep up with the pace of innovation the cloud economy demands. As you continue to improve your cloud ecosystems, consider the following:

  1. Are we keeping up with the pace of innovation and how can we improve?
  2. Are we investing in next-generation skills and providing continuing education opportunities?
  3. Are we evaluating new technologies?
  4. Are we managing our cloud effectively?

Cover image by Matt Howard on Unsplash.

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