Digital Business Transformation is now in full swing across North America and Europe, and much of it is driven by cloud strategies. In its Worldwide Cloud 2017 Predictions, market research firm IDC states that “IT buyers are shifting steadily toward cloud-first strategies, and nearly all are reconsidering their IT best practices to embrace hybrid and multicloud construction and operations, secure data management, end-to-end governance, updated IT skills, and improved multivendor sourcing.” In its own 2017 predictions for cloud computing, Forrester Research highlighted that “38 percent of 1,000-plus North American and European enterprise infrastructure technology decision-makers said that they are building private clouds, with 32 percent procuring public cloud services and the remainder planning to implement some form of cloud technology in the next 12 months.” In addition, 59 percent of respondents said they were adopting a hybrid cloud model. A key observation in the Forrester predictions is that “beyond pay-per-use, cloud will save buyers money in many ways.” Cloud solutions provide better business value, operational efficiency and time-to-market in many IT scenarios. However, managing cloud environments can be complex. Understanding and managing these complexities can be the difference between significant savings and actually paying more than in the old on-premises environment. Every organization has unique needs, which need to be reflected in its cloud strategy. Having the right strategy, tools and partners in place matters for success and long-term viability. Three critical planning factors for a successful cloud strategy Cloud Readiness Assessment As part of New Signature’s Plan-Build-Operate model, we work with our clients on a cloud readiness assessment. This includes discussing the specific plans, benefits and costs for a client at a high level, and then delving into a deeper analysis of key workloads that can include IT infrastructure, productivity and collaboration, application development and hosting, or identity and single-sign-on. The cloud readiness assessment helps identify dependencies, performance requirements and change processes, and establishes priorities for applications and services. At the application level, a cloud readiness assessment can uncover untapped potential for new agility and cost savings. New Signature’s App Factory service helps minimize risk and maximize benefit for businesses looking to capitalize on moving their applications to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Instead of the traditional ‘lift and shift’ approach to cloud migration, App Factory’s readiness assessment evaluates the application workloads an enterprise runs on its servers and aligns it with Microsoft’s cloud platform services, typically leading to substantial server consolidation. Capacity Planning & Cost Management Cloud computing doesn’t make capacity planning obsolete. It takes a different approach. For example, a specific advantage of cloud computing is the ability to quickly scale up usage and turn on high performance computing capabilities on a pay-per-use basis. In an on-premises environment, once a server is purchased and installed, it’s easier to ignore its run rate. When a cloud service is turned on, though, the meter is ticking until it is turned off again. It’s a different approach to IT planning and budgeting, which can pay huge dividends if executed well, but also lead to some costly pitfalls if managed on an ad-hoc basis. Staying on top of cloud capacity is a critical component of cloud strategy, and there are tools to help with that. For example, as part of the Cloud Management Portal, New Signature offers a right-sizing capability that analyzes virtual machine and Azure SQL database performance to determine which parts of the cloud infrastructure are over-sized, under-sized, or right-sized. This type of service can make a difference. As an example, Microsoft recently changed the pricing for its Enterprise Agreements. Organizations who had led old EAs expire and signed on to a new one after October 1, 2016, were suddenly facing several price increases for cloud services in use. A feature like right-sizing can ensure that any unused capacities are trimmed and costs reined in. Compliance & Risk Management When data is moved from an organization’s own data center into the cloud, it has implications for data compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and international standards. Compliance concerns every business cloud user but is particularly important for organizations who operate in more than one country or send data across one or more borders, and for enterprises in regulated sectors. This includes regulations such as s ISO 27001 and 27018; SSAE 16; EU Model Clauses; HIPAA/HiTrust; FedRAMP; PCI DSS; and many others. Microsoft keeps a list of all compliance standards by service, location and industry in its Trust Center. At a broader level, ISO has created a Service Level Agreement (SLA) framework that provides important guidance on compliance and risk management for cloud computing. A comprehensive cloud management strategy with supporting tools and services is the foundation for a successful move to the Cloud and, longer term, a cloud-first IT strategy that can trigger competitive advantages. New Signature offers Cloud Advisory and Governance Services to guide clients through a move to the Cloud with best practices and customized counsel.