The buzz and noise surrounding cloud computing can be confusing. CIOs and cloud strategists within the enterprise may find it extremely difficult to isolate the grain from the chaff and arrive at the appropriate cloud strategy for their enterprise. Here are a few guidelines to defining appropriate cloud strategies for your enterprise.

Cloud strategists must define the value of cloud services in their environment and translate business needs into actionable strategies. They must do an in-depth analysis of the current IT environment; create desirable service level outlines and the road map for incremental evolution to the cloud. They must create recommendations around key performance indicators and layer data lifecycle management around these services with privacy, security and compliance in mind.

It is evident that enterprise cloud strategy should not be designed with technology in focus. Strategists must be encouraged to focus their attention on the business and its needs. They need to ask themselves the following questions:

  1. How will the business benefit by moving to the cloud?
  2. Is there really a positive tradeoff between local storage options and cloud computing options?

The answer to these two questions will help them maintain a level headed approach to the strategy and will put down a strong foundation for long term evolution towards the cloud and cloud like options that they plan to mature over a period of time.

Cloud-strategists, evolving an appropriate strategy for the enterprise, must understand the kinds of services that are available in the cloud and use that understanding to identify and harness the right kind of cloud technology for enterprise use. There are three major categories of cloud services include:

  1. Infrastructure as a service is exposed as a capability for owning, managing or controlling the underlying infrastructure. Enterprises can rent the infrastructure for scaling up available IT hardware resources within the enterprise.
  2. Platform as a service provides programming platforms and tools or building blocks for APIs that assist in building cloud based applications and services.
  3. Software as a service exposes applications as a service running on cloud infrastructure.

Cloud-strategists may also like to integrate one or more of the available options to create a cloud strategy that is customized to business needs of the enterprise.

In short, cloud strategists need to move away from theoretical definitions of what is and what is not cloud, and make a cogent analysis and create a clearer match between economic and risk profiles of different business scenarios and position cloud offerings as part of the existing technology strategies.