With the growing market adoption of Cloud computing, demand for a formal Cloud computing strategy is increasing. We’ve identified five Cloud strategy “archetypes,” or patterns, that are emerging as the key motivators and factors driving that demand. Each of these archetypes represents a given Cloud adoption pattern that is approaching Cloud strategy differently.
- Strategy First
- Strategy Backfill
- Strategy Reset
- Cloud Strategy Refresh
- Strategic Urgency (Business Driven)
In this post, we’ll cover the Cloud Strategy Archetypes and offer some guidance for their application in your enterprise. However, if you haven’t already, check out our first post in the series; Cloud Strategy and the Cloud Adoption Lifecycle. In it we explore the need for Cloud computing strategy, and set the stage to dive into the various Cloud Strategy Archetypes.
Archetype 1: Strategy First
The first Cloud strategy archetype is called the Strategy First pattern. In this scenario, an organization is interested in Cloud computing, and believes that in order to do it properly, a formally-defined Cloud strategy is necessary. These organizations prefer to develop a Cloud strategy to guide all of their subsequent decisions and efforts, with a view that a Cloud strategy will help them “do Cloud the right way.”
- Conservative technology adopter
- Believe in coordinated planning for enterprise initiatives
- Preference for “proven” methodologies and frameworks
- Believe in a formal planning process
- Demonstrate a culture of strategic planning and execution on both Business and IT
- Potential for delays and “analysis paralysis” while strategy is being developed, reviewed and finalized
- May delay tactical advantage while pursuing strategic elegance or perfection
- Achieving broad consensus and stakeholder agreement across the enterprise may delay competitive advantage at the business unit or product level
- Do not get bogged down on a “perfect” Cloud computing strategy. Make sure it is complete and robust, but do not allow the Cloud strategy process to impede key business decisions or delay achieving business goals.
- Capture lessons learned from Cloud Pilots or POCs. While “Strategy First” implies a solid planning foundation, we nonetheless urge the pursuit of pilot projects and proof of concepts (POC) to inform the Cloud computing strategy. These help bring real world experiences into the strategy development process.
- Perform a Cloud Readiness Assessment. A Cloud readiness assessment will provide the foundation for the Cloud strategy development process.
Archetype 2: Cloud Strategy Backfill
The second Cloud strategy archetype focuses on an enterprise that is already using Cloud computing with some measure of success, but seeks to broaden its adoption, perhaps to an enterprise-wide level. In this case, the organization has already performed Cloud pilots or proof of concepts (POC), and has deployed production Cloud computing capabilities using public, private or hybrid Cloud services. The Cloud strategy in this case will help build on their initial successes (or failures) to deploy an enterprise-wide Cloud computing framework.
In the Cloud Strategy Backfill pattern, the organization is going back to “fill in” any missing strategic planning requirements, such as goals and objectives, business cases and cost benchmarks, and architecture or governance needs. In many cases, these organizations are also addressing gaps in their Cloud computing reference models and reference architecture artifacts as well.
- Aggressive technology adopter
- Believe in action and technology learning, as opposed to coordinated planning for enterprise initiatives
- Preference for action and results over politics and stakeholder buy-in
- Believe in technology experimentation, pilots and proof of concepts (POC) over formal planning and strategy development
- Demonstrates a culture of technology leadership
- Potential for deploying technology that may not be strategically advantageous
- The tactical pursuit of technical knowledge and technology outcomes may inhibit, delay or imperil strategic business objectives
- Technology deployments may have to be replaced with more strategic platforms or solutions defined via a formal strategic planning approach, causing rework and extra costs
- Implementing technology without a formally defined Cloud strategy may result in making incorrect strategic choices that may have to be reversed
- Close Cloud strategy gaps with a strategy-lite approach. In this model, given that the goal is formally documenting the Cloud strategy, the emphasis needs to be on a “good enough” Cloud strategy, complete and robust, but also improved iteratively over time.
- Incorporate POC and implementation knowledge into the Cloud strategy. Make sure that the benefits of current implementations are captured in the Cloud strategy, and help bring it to life. Also capture lessons learned from previous experiences.
- Emphasize strategy formalization, not clean sheet strategy development. Make sure your Cloud strategy is complete and robust, but do not allow the Cloud strategy process to negatively impact the timing for key business decisions or business goals.
Archetype 3: Cloud Strategy Reset
The third Cloud strategy archetype is called the Cloud Strategy Reset. This pattern applies where an organization has begun Cloud computing adoption, but has fallen short of objectives or has experienced failure. In these cases, a formal Cloud strategy becomes important to reset the Cloud computing initiative and ensure that appropriate goals and objectives are shared, vetted and agreed to by key stakeholders prior to re-starting the Cloud effort.
The Cloud Strategy Reset pattern seeks to renew the Cloud computing efforts under the aegis of a formally-defined Cloud strategy that will enable a restart and a renewal of the Cloud initiative, while ensuring the identification of formally defined goals and objectives, and ensuring executive stakeholder buy-in and appropriate programmatic funding for the Cloud computing strategy. A Cloud strategy reset must have executive buy-in because of the recognition that the initial investment did not produce the desired business, financial or operational outcomes. You are in effect asking for a second bite of the apple!
- Aggressive or conservative technology adopter, and have produced mixed results
- Believe in planning and will invest appropriate resources in strategic planning, or re-planning if needed
- Preference for appropriate planning and execution over politics and “ready-fire-aim” approaches
- Believe in technology experimentation, pilots and proof of concepts (POC) as they support the strategy development process
- Are willing to re-invest if leadership believes that the investments will ultimately produce value
- Encourage innovation and productive mistakes, with the belief that they will ultimately result in better outcomes
- Initial mistakes may cause credibility damage that the Cloud Strategy Reset cannot overcome
- Initial Cloud deployments may require too much rework or effort to undo; a clean slate may be required
- Initial deployments may get business buy-in that resists the new Cloud strategy recommendations, thus resulting in redundant capabilities or internal battles and friction
- The Cloud Reset Pattern is the only “next chance” the organization will get; it must be executed very well
- Cloud Strategy Resets require more stakeholder buy-in, not less. Given that you are pursuing a Cloud strategy reset approach, you may require more executive buy-in than normal simply because there were mistakes made in the initial approach.
- Incorporate lessons learned into the Cloud strategy. Make sure that the benefits of current implementations are captured in the Cloud strategy and help bring it to life. More importantly, during a Cloud Strategy Reset, you should also capture and build on the mistakes and lessons learned.
- Do not get bogged down on a “perfect” Cloud computing strategy. Make sure it is complete and robust, but do not allow the Cloud strategy reset process to delay key business decisions.
Archetype 4: Cloud Strategy Refresh or Renewal
The fourth Cloud strategy archetype is where an organization has begun Cloud computing adoption, and has achieved initial success, but feels the Cloud strategy must be refreshed or renewed. In these cases, the Cloud strategy is updated to establish new goals and objectives based on the initial successes.
In the Cloud Strategy Refresh archetype, there is recognition of the value of Cloud computing to the organization, as well as recognition that the Cloud team has executed according to the first iteration of the Cloud strategy. This “success equity” will help with the Cloud Strategy refresh because the leadership already has seen value and results. Therefore, updating, extending or refreshing the current Cloud strategy is somewhat easier than an initial Cloud strategy development effort.
The Cloud Strategy Refresh still requires executive buy-in to ensure support for resources and funding of the new Cloud strategy. However, because the Cloud strategy refresh is building on success, senior leadership approval is anticipated, assuming the Cloud Strategy refresh can delivery additional incremental value to the organization.
- Believe that strategic planning and strategy development lead to better results
- Building on the success of the initial Cloud strategy, so the strategy refresh will be easier to sell to leadership
- Are successful technology adopters in general owing to solid planning and execution; Cloud computing is just the latest example for this organization
- Care must be taken to ensure hubris does not lead to a substandard Cloud strategy refresh
- Must ensure that “Cloud fatigue” does not hinder the Cloud strategy refresh or its execution
- Cloud Strategy Refresh still requires stakeholder buy-in, but it is easier to achieve. Since you are building on success, executive stakeholder buy-in is necessary, yet will be easier to obtain.
- Incorporate results and lessons learned into the Cloud strategy. Make sure that the benefits of current implementations are captured in the Cloud strategy, and help bring it to life. More importantly, during a Cloud Strategy Reset, you should also capture and build on the mistakes and lessons learned.
- Consider the Cloud Strategy Refresh as a strategy-lite iteration. Make sure the Cloud Strategy refresh is complete and robust, yet make it as lightweight as possible through a strategy iteration approach.
Archetype 5: Strategic Urgency
The last Cloud strategy archetype is what we are calling a Strategic Urgency, where no matter what, the Cloud strategy must be right or there will be dire business consequences with negative business impacts associated with them. For such business compelling events, the urgency for a Cloud strategy is such that there is executive sponsorship, allocated resources, and stakeholder oversight to ensure the resulting Cloud strategy will lead to the desired outcomes.
The Strategic Urgency archetype forces resource commitment to Cloud computing, and drives alignment to a shared goal of a successful Cloud computing strategy and its identified objectives, goals, strategies and tactics.
- Galvanized executive support helps ensure successful strategy development and ultimate implementation
- Strategic urgency ensures rapid process for Cloud strategy and aligned support for it
- While risks are high if the Cloud strategy is not performed or developed properly, the level of commitment will help ensure a positive outcome
- Resources (funding, personnel, external support) will not be skimped; this is a compelling strategic imperative that must be done
- Given the strategic importance of the Cloud strategy, there may be interest in getting second and third opinions; be careful that these inputs, if desired, are early enough to fit into, not derail the Cloud strategy effort
- Being credible with this effort is key; credibility with the business stakeholders is precious, and must be squandered on a poor effort
- Make sure the Cloud strategy is explicitly aligned to the critical business issues. Make sure it is complete and robust, but do not allow the Cloud strategy process to impact the timing for key business decisions or business goals.
- Ensure the Cloud strategy is vetted, reviewed and resource-enabled. Given the strategic imperative behind this Cloud strategy archetype, it must be successful. Therefore, ensure the Cloud strategy will be supported with funding and personnel to achieve its goals.
What these Cloud strategy patterns all share is a realization that proper planning for Cloud adoption will ultimately lead to a better outcome and realization of target goals and objectives.
These Cloud Strategy Archetypes provide a useful lens through which you can evaluate where your organization is with Cloud computing adoption, and determine what Cloud strategy pattern fits your enterprise. While the Cloud Adoption Lifecycle is a useful model for understanding the idealized steps of Cloud computing adoption, it is nonetheless an abstraction. However, Cloud strategy development is not an abstraction – it is a necessity.
A formally defined Cloud computing strategy, based on the combination of strategic thinking and strategic planning best practices, will help ensure the successful adoption of Cloud computing for your organization. The execution of the Cloud strategy will be more likely to lead to the desired results. The Cloud strategy archetypes will provide insights into what may be driving the Cloud strategy needs, and how to make the Cloud strategy development process more likely to succeed.
Cloud Strategy Next Steps
The Cloud Strategy Archetypes are useful abstractions to help an organization determine where it is in the Cloud Adoption Lifecycle, and how best to develop its Cloud computing strategy.
- Determine your Cloud computing current situation. Are you starting a new Cloud computing initiative? Are you enhancing or refining your current approach? Where are you on the Cloud Adoption Lifecycle model?
- Understand what kind of Cloud Strategy Archetype applies to your organization. Based on the Cloud Strategy Archetype profiles, review the criteria and guidance that applies for each, and ensure you pursue an appropriate approach to Cloud computing strategy.
- Know what can you do to ensure a successful Cloud strategy process. The Cloud Strategy Archetypes provide key attributes, possible weaknesses, and guidance that will help with developing an appropriate Cloud strategy.
- Review the Cloud Strategy Archetype weaknesses, and avoid them. The Cloud Strategy Archetypes each have key attributes and potential weaknesses associated with them. You should evaluate to what extent the archetype weaknesses apply, and ensure you do not fall victim to them.
- Decide how will you measure the effectiveness of the Cloud strategy as demonstrated by proven results. Be sure that concrete deliverables and measurable outcomes are defined in the Cloud computing strategy such that its success can be determined.
Cloud strategy matters. Developing a Cloud computing strategy is an essential ingredient for ensuring a successful Cloud computing deployment, regardless of what type of Cloud services and deployment model your organization is pursuing. A Cloud computing strategy, supported by a Cloud computing Reference Model and Reference Architecture, are invaluable resources for guiding you along your Cloud adoption journey.