5 steps to a successful
cloud application strategy

Proactively engage with your business counterparts to plan a cloud application strategy that aligns with your infrastructure.

“Watch your cloud vendors, and work with them—or you might find yourself facing a sudden change in product direction or an incremental cost you never noticed.”

—Eric Johnson, Informatica’s VP of Global IT Applications.

Managing a cloud strategy is a key responsibility of IT application managers. Cloud applications have a way of getting started with or without your involvement. Follow these five fundamental steps to ensure you stay ahead of the issue.

  1. Know your surroundings. Make no mistake: The SaaS ecosystem is bigger than you think, is growing daily, and is populated by a limitless pool of vendors. Just because a company has a presentable web site, however, does not mean it offers a viable solution. Before you begin any cloud computing venture, orient yourself in this dynamic world. Peel back the layers and ask vendors: Can you prove financial stability? What’s your track record? What are the real costs? “Separating fact from fiction can be a real eye-opening experience,” says Eric Johnson, VP of Global IT Applications for Informatica.

  2. Align with your business counterparts. Cloud application vendors have been known to sneak past IT and sell directly to business units. Work together proactively to align business budgets and requirements with infrastructure capabilities, so you can recommend the most functional and cost-effective solution for everyone. Meet with your business counterparts regularly to understand their requirements and become a trusted advisor.

  3. Design a data integration plan. You will need to migrate your corporate data to the new cloud application and keep that application synchronized with your on-premise applications. Understand ahead of time how you will synchronize data, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and which vendors and solutions will work optimally. Furthermore, ensure that everyone adheres to the plan once you’ve set it in motion.

  4. Manage vendors closely. As you take on cloud application vendors, remember that you are forging critical relationships. Teach your group to pay attention to essential details about contract renewal dates, price protection terms, and upcoming product releases. And update procurement and other business units because everyone feels the impact of an unexpected change.

    "You’ll become dependent on these vendors," cautions Johnson. "Watch them, and work with them—or you might find yourself facing a sudden change in product direction or an incremental cost you never noticed."

  5. Manage your applications like a portfolio. Your business has asked you to invest money in applications on its behalf, based on specific requirements. "It’s your job to watch that money, make wise investment choices, and make sure the business sees a positive return," says Johnson. As you would with any financial portfolio, regularly evaluate your application investments to determine if people are using the systems, if they’re stable, and whether or not they perform well. If you don’t like the answers, consider taking the portfolio in a new direction.

While launching a cloud computing strategy might feel overwhelming, the right planning can make all the difference. Want more guidance? Take a look at this white paper: "Cloud Integration for Hybrid IT: Balancing Business Self-Service and IT Control."

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