It’s 2024, and “Moving to the Cloud” is far from a new concept. Businesses across industries have been rapidly adopting cloud-based solutions for a decade, and demand is rising. Today, organizations are increasingly embracing a cloud-first business strategy to help achieve their goals. According to research by IDG:

  • 92% of respondents said their IT environment (data analytics, applications, infrastructure, etc.) relies on the cloud
  • IDG predicts that this trend will grow to 95% in the next 12 months

But to see optimal results that go the distance, you need to build your cloud strategy around the right focus. To accomplish this, many companies adopt a cloud-first mindset to drive their cloud projects.

What is a Cloud-First Strategy?

Cloud Strategy Definition

A business guided by a cloud-first approach should always consider cloud computing solutions before anything else when addressing existing or new processes. This approach can help organizations get the most out of their investment by encouraging them to explore the possibilities of what the cloud can do for them.

How Does a Cloud-First Strategy Differ from Other Approaches to Cloud: “Cloud-First VS. Cloud Only”

However, the cloud-first mindset is not an end all be all. A common misconception about “cloud-first” is that the cloud is the strict answer to everything, all the time. This mentality, known as “cloud-only,” can often be counter-productive. The reality is that some applications and processes are better suited for the cloud than others, so prioritization is essential. With a cloud-first mindset, the cloud should be the first option you consider, but it doesn’t have to be your only option.

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Why Have a Cloud First Strategy

Benefits of a Cloud-First Strategy

When you commit to a cloud-first mindset and develop your strategy accordingly, you can unlock many benefits, including data security, disaster recovery, cost savings, and more. Embracing the cloud became vital for many organizations when the COVID-19 pandemic created urgency around remote workforce enablement, and IT cost optimization. These benefits and many others have helped organizations build resiliency amid the pandemic and will continue serving them in the future.

Disaster Recovery and Security

According to a Deloitte survey of more than 500 IT executives and leaders, security and data protection are the top drivers for cloud migration, with 58% of respondents ranking it #1 or #2 priority.

Cloud significantly decreases the risk of theft or damage so you gain peace of mind. If disaster strikes, with your data safely stored in the cloud, you can quickly and easily recover all of it. This way, you can get back to business as usual with ease. You can also access data stored in the cloud 24/7/365 from anywhere, which is highly beneficial for enabling remote workforces.

In addition to disaster relief, adopting a cloud-first strategy can do wonders for your organization’s security. Cloud solutions feature outstanding security standards protecting your information. Private, managed clouds like the feature individual encryption to protect your data while in use, in transit, and while it’s untouched. As a private, managed cloud solution, the Hyland Cloud also offers a fully dedicated team to manage your cloud. It also features seven layers of security protection for your data.

Another IDG study reports that Financial Services, Government/Non-Profit, and Manufacturing enterprises have the highest likelihood of using a single public cloud platform because of security and privacy concerns.

Save Money

One of the key selling points of a cloud-first strategy is the financial savings it produces. Above all, building, managing, and scaling legacy hardware and software and hosting and managing applications and servers internally can be very costly. Not only are these practices a financial strain, but they require significant time, planning, and other resources. The costs can also be challenging to predict, too, since new areas needing improvements and updates frequently arise.

As a result, organizations that adopt a cloud-first strategy generally see a reduction in hosting costs, equipment, licensing, and labor costs. Some savings can surface early on as you eliminate and downsize resources, and others will come long-term. As a general rule, cloud has a much lower cost of entry than on-premise solutions. Hardware in the cloud is also typically cheaper year over year than managing it yourself. Applications in the cloud often become more expensive than putting them on-premise, however companies tend to break even at the 3-4 year mark. All in all, the hosted management component makes the biggest difference.

Better Collaboration and Productivity

Cloud-first businesses enhance productivity in a variety of ways. For one, cloud-first infrastructure can accelerate data analysis. It can also streamline business management systems across departments. But cloud-first businesses also enable a remote workforce. Whether your team members are in the same room or thousands of miles apart, the cloud connects them with tools that promote seamless collaboration and communication for more productivity. Such tools can include anything from email and calendar cloud applications to internal communication tools like Microsoft Teams.

Scalability and Flexibility

Since change is inevitable, your organization needs a solution that can evolve with you. But when you manage your applications and data internally, scaling can be difficult to execute. It can be costly, too, requiring companies to invest in new equipment and revisit infrastructure design. And these add-ons increase IT staff workload. The cloud, however, can support the data storage needs of businesses big and small as they change. This way, your organization can easily scale, and you can pocket the money and time saved in the process.

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How to Adopt a Cloud-First Strategy Approach

Learn from Your Peers

A useful step in building a cloud-first strategy is learning from the experiences of others. Identify other organizations which have successfully navigated the cloud migration journey. Don’t hesitate to do your research. Consider asking questions about how they reached their accomplishments and what their long-term vision is for their solution.

Cloud-First Strategy - Our Story & The Results of Switching to the Cloud

Build a Cloud-First Culture

Your cloud-first transformation’s success is dependent on buy-in from the top down in your organization. To make this happen, you’ll need to make a culture shift to the cloud-first approach. Prioritize transparency. Let your employees know what you’re planning to do and why. This can go a long way in helping them understand the value of this change. Don’t be afraid to address employees’ feelings of doubt head-on from the start. Be available to answer their questions before, after, and during implementation. Additionally, help everyone in your organization understand how cloud migration will directly make their jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Many organizations tackle a cloud-first culture shift through employee engagement and education initiatives. For example, an organization might develop a cloud training program for employees in both technical and non-technical positions. A program like this could help employees see the technology’s impact for themselves and better understand how it works.

Additionally, organizations should continue to prioritize clear, two-way communication during and after implementation. Getting employee input can help ensure that your solution is working at its best. Focusing the attention on the people at the center of the processes not only helps to lower resistance, but it emphasizes a cloud-first mindset.

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Cloud-First Design: Create a Cloud-First Migration Roadmap

When it comes to cloud migration or any other major project, having a plan is key. Design a roadmap unique to your organization that includes all your solutions. Define each step in your cloud migration process. Set a clear migration path for every application you have, from your newest most recently updated applications to your oldest legacy application. Determine whether you’ll choose public, private, or a hybrid cloud deployment.

How Does a Cloud-First Strategy Help Clients?

The bottom line: A cloud-first strategy enables clients to take an active approach to cloud migration, rather than simply “making the shift” to get it over with for survival’s sake. The goal of the cloud-first strategy is to remove the restraints of costly, inefficient legacy infrastructure and outdated applications so your organization can innovate and scale long-term.

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Become a Cloud-First Organization Now

Don’t just submit to the change, embrace it. Cloud can no longer be considered an aspirational innovation. It’s an imperative investment to remain competitive. But it’s not just a matter of catching up to stay relevant. Organizations must view cloud as an opportunity to thrive and ultimately strive for a cloud-first digital transformation.

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About Kara

As a Naviant Content Writer since 2019, Kara is passionate about helping organizations unleash the power of technology to solve their business challenges. In her weekly articles, Kara breaks down the latest research, trends, and tips in the digital transformation world, specializing in intelligent automation, the cloud, AP & HR automation, artificial intelligence, change management, and more. She is also a Copywriter for the American Marketing Association-Madison, where she contributes bimonthly articles that interview industry experts and highlight the latest marketing trends. When she’s not writing, Kara is working on her latest art project, scoping out new music, or out for a run.

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