Cloud-first strategy in business means that the company’s operating activities are based primarily on the cloud infrastructure, which is optimized in terms of its cost and power. In this article, we show you what KPIs any enterprise should pay attention to so that it is certain it utilizes the best approach to cloud technologies.

Match business goals to cloud capacity

Before building a cloud or making any changes to it, companies should define their main objectives. General strategy is a must for identifying needs in any line of work, and it can say a lot about what kind of IT systems the business really requires. For example, a small business looking for a cheap and flexible solution may opt for a public cloud. It doesn’t usually need a huge storage volume, and it is more convenient for the budget to completely rely on the provider’s team to maintain workflows. Respectively, large enterprises, with many ongoing projects and specific fault-tolerance requirements, might want a managed private cloud solution.

However, different tasks may call for customized approaches. In order to save costs, a company may choose cloud solutions of various providers, types, and sometimes even combine them with the physical equipment it already owns. This is how multi-cloud or hybrid cloud models come in handy.

With the advance of high-load processes, such as machine learning, 3D and video editing, AI tools creation, there is a tendency to enhance clouds with more GPU power. Such a requirement should be thought through in advance to find a provider with a system powerful enough to supply it.

CapEx, OpEx and FinOps

Buying on-prem infrastructure is all about Capital Expenses (CapEx) — the purchase of fixed long-term assets where it is hard to calculate how efficient these financial investments will be beforehand. Cloud costs, on the contrary, are typically connected to OpEx, Operating Expenses, where you pay only for what you use. Budgeting is all about deciding where more money should go, and the choice isn’t always obvious.

For some companies, especially in the industrial sector, more CapEx might be better — they really heavily on the machinery and equipment, their IT-infrastructure should be right at the edge to provide instant connection of every piece on site. However, the modern systems now are able to have a cloud response delay of only one millisecond, which makes them on par with the on-premise servers. Moreover, ordering cloud resources is cheaper, no capacity gets wasted in vain, and the choice of a solution is much simpler as you aren’t stuck with what you ordered for years.

But even with operating expenses, there is a room for improvement by introducing a FinOps practice. It basically is a recurring check-up on a quality-price ratio for the company’s cloud costs, which makes budgeting even more predictable.

Stay safe

A major concern for enterprises that process data is the privacy and security maintenance. Cloud security concerns protecting the data centers it is hosted on, all the hardware and firmware. To this end, the providers should comply with the ISO 27001 standard and its extension for personal data, ISO 27701 — even though these regulations are advisory and not so stringent in their nature, they help to tell a good cloud operator from an unreliable one.

For more strict safety requirements, look for a provider with a PCI DSS certification — it confirms that all the infrastructure is built in such a way as to not fail completely in the event of a complex breach.

Some clouds could be also enhanced with extra services including Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), Security Operations Center (SOC), Privileged Access Management (PAM), Anti-DDoS protection, Web Application Firewall (WAF) to defend against cyber-attacks on websites and applications.

Another way to safeguard data is to think of Backups and Disaster Recovery. Providers also usually cover that as an additional service and offer replicas of everything you save in the cloud to switch back on to if the system has failed, either due to a breach or negligence.

Choose the best cloud team

Technical support gets easily overlooked, as business owners may be tempted to cut costs by delegating cloud tasks to their own IT-department. But in order to work with the cloud and its firmware, one should have expertise, vast experience and time, which an all-purpose IT-department often lacks, being stormed by tasks. So it is better to delegate everything cloudy to the provider’s technical support. A fast response time, comfortable ticket submission system, and a round-the-clock availability are the qualities to look for from real experts.

Learn from others

A good cloud provider will typically have a portfolio of the best use cases from its clients. These detailed stories show various scenarios of how the cloud solutions already enhance the daily work of companies from different areas. So it not only proves that a certain cloud service is reliable, but also gives business ideas on ways to build their infrastructure.