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Watch: How to build a cloud first strategy

Drew Firment
Drew Firment

Cloud spend is projected to hit nearly $600 billion in 2023. There’s no more hiding from it. At this point, cloud leaders can either get soaked or learn to dance in the rain. 

In this webinar, A Cloud Guru’s Drew Firment and Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategy Officer, David Linthicum, discuss the five biggest mistakes cloud leaders make when developing their cloud strategies and what they should do instead.

a video thumbnail for ACG's Building a Cloud First Strategy webinar

What defines a cloud first leader?

Cloud first leaders view the cloud as a business investment, a catalyst for innovation and a way to drive larger business outcomes. They sailed straight into the storm instead of waiting for the storm to come to them. And they’re going to live to tell their tales.

In the next 10 years, we’re going to see a lot of companies go away because their leaders view the cloud tactically—taking one action at a time without considering the bigger picture—instead of strategically planning how to leverage cloud technology to achieve business outcomes. Those leaders thinking tactically spend the same or more than those who think about the cloud strategically:

  • They’re not doing as much planning
  • They’re making more mistakes
  • They’re not explaining the true value of cloud technology to their stakeholders

Now many of them are disappointed that their cloud strategy isn’t returning the investment they thought it would. The cloud may be mysterious, but it’s not miraculous.

Cloud first leaders leverage cloud technology as a true innovative force multiplier that moves their business forward. Then, they figure out how it layers into culture, operating models, and skillset analyses so it becomes a transformational pillar that exists in their organization.


How to build a cloud first team

Cloud first leaders do more than define cloud strategy. They’re the ones shaping the culture and teams that drive business outcomes. . . or not. Learn more about building a transformational culture in this blog post.


Be intentional about adding multicloud to your cloud first strategy

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is trying to do too much too soon. We’ve hit a stage where leaders are implementing multicloud as a default instead of intentionally designing multicloud strategies. Why? The most common reason is they’re afraid of vendor lock-in. But that’s causing complexity issues businesses just aren’t prepared to handle. 

To be successful with multicloud, you have to purposefully align the advantages of a cloud provider with business intent—while being mindful of the abstraction required to govern the added complexity of cost and security. If you don’t approach this strategically, or fall into it accidentally, you won’t be able to get the maximum benefit from your multicloud environment. It may even end up costing you. 

Before you jump straight into the deep end, make sure you know how to swim. Start with one cloud and get good at it. Understand how it functions and how to take advantage of cloud-native features. Once you and your team are comfortable with one cloud provider, then start looking at others for best-of-breed solutions to add to your cloud strategy.


Is your multicloud cloud system secure?

Once your multicloud system is in place, make sure to secure it with these 4 best practices.


Native security is the base of a cloud first strategy

Security has been a concern for leaders for several years now. Now it’s even worse as cloud usage continues to grow and there’s not a minimally viable standard yet. Many leaders are looking to other organizations to help them understand how to secure their cloud environments. They’ll read an article about how any other business created a great cloud security system, replicate it and wonder why they were breached the next week.

What businesses really need now are cost-effective, reliable turnkey security solutions they can rely on and leverage by default. The only way to do that, though, is to empower developers to build security directly into their applications. This requires a shift in our thinking from building walls around our systems and data to reinforcing them from within. Thankfully, that’s already begun with the shift from DevOps to DevSecOps.

A cloud first strategy is optimized for ROI

In the past, we’ve given developers carte blanche authority to build cloud systems. We told them working software was the goal, and they delivered. Some delivered solutions that cost five million dollars per month to run. Others delivered a solution that solved the same problem, but costs only $500,000 to run. They produce the same results, but have drastically different impacts on the business.

Cloud first leaders and developers think about the economics of their solutions. They realize what they’re building now will be used for the next 15 to 20 years, and they’re optimizing their architectures accordingly. That may look like strategic oversight during architecture development that looks at the operational economic viability of the solution over time. 

FinOps is another example of this in practice—where engineering, finance, technology, and business teams collaborate to gain more financial control and predictability over their cloud systems. No matter how it’s accomplished, the goal of this cloud strategy is to get closer to the one configuration in a million that’s 100% optimized.


Use data-backed insights to guide your cloud strategy and stay on top of the fast-changing world of cloud. Learn how in this on-demand webinar.

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Develop the right cloud talent for your cloud first strategy

Cloud first leaders should be hiring continuous learners. It’s not enough anymore to have an engineering degree from a prestigious university or hold five certifications. Leaders can’t hire their way out of the cloud skills gap. Instead, they have to create the talent to implement their cloud strategy. And the only way to do that is to hire developers who are creative and have the desire to learn and innovate.

Once you have the people in place, creating a learning and development program is easy. With on-demand and automated learning systems, leaders can build learning paths for their developers and create incentives or expectations for completion. There are even hands-on opportunities with labs and sandboxes that help entry-level engineers get real-life experience building cloud infrastructures with little to no risk to your business. It’s a win-win-win. You get to close the cloud skills gap in your business, your team gets to expand their skills, and their new knowledge makes your cloud systems more efficient and effective.

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