MJ Diberardino | CEO, Cloudnexa & Josh Bosquez | CTO, Armor

Throughout the past decade, cloud computing has completely revolutionized the way companies conduct business. No longer does the cloud only benefit IT teams. Today, it enables business processes throughout entire organizations, offering teams and companies speed, agility, scalability, cost savings, and much more.

Despite these capabilities and benefits, companies tend to find themselves lacking a clear strategy for deploying and using the cloud across their environment. This blog, in partnership with Cloudnexa, will help provide clarity on building out a secure cloud strategy to achieve your goals and objectives using the cloud.

The Cloud Mindset & Setting Your Goals

With any new endeavor, change is intimidating, and migrating to the cloud is no different. Moving from a data center or on-premise solution to a software-based platform means completely changing the way you and your teams operate.

For example, a traditional secure computing model is costly, time-consuming, highly manual, offers limited visibility across the environment, requires compliance management, and is infrastructure intensive. Alternatively, with secure cloud computing, you benefit from cost efficiencies, automation, unified visibility, continuous compliance, and much more. Everything you did before to maintain your physical environment, you no longer have to do.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this change is positive. As an organization, you’re able to greatly increase your speed of innovation, save money, and scale as needed.

In fact, a recent webinar poll showed us that 64% of respondents are motivated by speed and flexibility when moving to a cloud environment, while 31% are motivated by cost benefits. These numbers are not surprising. To fully benefit from everything the cloud offers though, there also needs to be a change in your mindset and strategic planning to achieve the goals and objectives you determined when you made the decision to migrate.

You no longer have servers, you now have services. So how do you fully take advantage of the cloud and ensure you meet your goals?

Modernization and Transformation

Modernization and transformation are key to building and achieving your cloud strategy goals. These two are also intertwined—you can’t fully achieve modernization without transformation.

Modernization comes in many forms—DevOps, DevSecOps, IoT, Microservices, etc.— and is one of the biggest drivers of cost savings in the cloud. Once you understand what all these services mean, how your teams can take advantage of them, and implement them throughout your organization, this is when you really see the benefits from a cost-savings perspective.

However, modernization isn’t just about technology. You also have to strategically align and modernize your business units and processes. For example, if your DevOps and security teams are planning and working together from the beginning, they’re able to write policies, consolidate, and understand the security needed behind each new application or environment. This ultimately leads to fewer risks and mistakes—such as misconfigurations—enabling you to have a secure cloud environment.

Take a step back and inventory what you have in place—considering both technology and processes. Ask yourself: Why applications are designed the way they are? What goals do they achieve? What are the functionalities? How does it impact customers? What am I losing out on by not modernizing?

Now, determine what can be updated, modernized, and/or cloud native. From here, you’re able to understand how to incorporate modernization to fully take advantage of your cloud environment.

The buck doesn’t stop at modernization. Remember, in order to completely modernize, you also have to have transformation.

It takes a village to be part of a cloud strategy initiative. Transformation has to happen throughout the entire company, including—but not limited to—executive leadership, finance, HR, engineering, operations, sales, marketing, IT, and security teams. Work with these business units to understand the impact of the cloud and how it fits in to their piece of the business. Explain to them the ROI, benefits of automation, visibility, and true values they gain from a cloud environment.

Once you’ve done this and modernized your entire organization, you have to transform your processes to align with the modernization of technology. This transformation happens when you’ve trained your teams on the new technology and processes that impact the way they are used to conducting business.

When you have teams that understand the impact of modernization and transformation, the decisions you make as you build your secure cloud strategy will come naturally.

Building a Secure Cloud Plan

So, what steps need to take place to build a strong secure cloud strategy?

Once you’ve adopted the cloud and have gone through the modernization and transformation stage, it’s time to start really thinking about how your corporate objectives are going to come to life. The following is Armor’s Secure Cloud Migration Framework, outlining how we help our customers achieve their goals:

  1. Assess & Plan – Formulate your cloud strategy, develop your business case and objectives, and then map out your plan. This is the strategy, research, and planning phase for everything that follows. This step sets the tone for the overall success or failure of your application migration.
  2. Validate Develop and test Proof-of-Concepts (POC’s) to validate how your workload may function effectively and securely in the cloud.
  3. Build – Deploy an actual running workload to pilot test your new environment. This phase allows you to ensure everything—including security and compliance controls—are in place and operating effectively.
  4. Migrate – It’s time to deploy your application to the cloud! Everything prior to this step was to ensure this process is as seamless and painless as possible. Perform backups, ensure team readiness, communicate, and revisit testing during this phase.
  5. Optimize Arguably the second most important step in the process is capturing the ROI’s promised to stakeholders upfront. During this phase, you’ll need to measure KPIs, document everything, optimize response processes and security operations, analyze usage and cost, and continue learning about your cloud environment.

When you embrace the journey to the cloud, one thing you’re going to quickly learn is the pace of innovation. Because the cloud is rapidly improving at all times, this cycle is continuous. You cannot stop your building cloud strategy after deployment. It’s important to continue learning and optimizing the new tools and services available to you through the cloud in order to reap the benefits.

One of—if not the—most important piece to remember when building your cloud strategy is the security behind it. Without security built-in (not tacked on) to your cloud environment, all your strategizing, alignment, planning, and other diligent efforts will all be for nothing in the event of a data breach. When you boil down to it, yes—the cloud environment is inherently different from an on-prem offering. However, the security behind it is the same, you’re just in new terrain.

Often times the hardest step to take is the first one. Partnering with a vendor such as Armor or Cloudnexa to take that first step in building your strategic and secure cloud environment can be crucial to your success in the cloud. Third-party vendors often have the expertise and experience you may not have in-house. In fact, according to the same aforementioned webinar poll, 31% of respondents claim to lack the resources necessary to make a confident move to the cloud. Inviting a third-party to understand your objectives and map out a plan with you will help you efficiently achieve your goals.

For more information on building out your secure cloud strategy, watch our recent webinar or check out any of our materials on the topic, including: