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What is Cloud Digital Transformation?

Future-facing organizations of all sizes are looking to cloud digital transformations to get ahead of the competition. Cloud services can help them better engage their customers, streamline their operations, and open up new opportunities. But cloud transformations are about more than short-term gains. 

This article will detail the goals of a cloud digital transformation, how one works, and what a company should expect to get out of it short and long term. Understanding these facets of a digital transformation will help ensure you craft the right transformation strategy for your company. 

A Cloud Digital Transformation Updates Both Your Technology and Business Practices 

At the most basic level, a cloud digital transformation is the process of moving your company’s IT services from on-premise infrastructure to cloud infrastructure. However, as you might expect, that one fundamental change to your technology will have a wide-reaching impact on your business practices. 

Despite a maturing market, cloud services remain very popular. Formerly only an option for large enterprises, more and more businesses of all sizes are discovering the value of performing a digital transformation. The business consulting firm Deloitte found that the market for cloud services grew “only” at an annual rate of 31 percent in 2019. While high, that was actually a decline over the previous few years. 

On the technology side, a cloud digital transformation broadly breaks out into application transformations and network transformations. 

Application Transformation 

Once you establish a new cloud environment, or “tenant,” for your company, the first step in your transformation is usually moving your business applications into it. Moving different applications will require varying amounts of effort, depending on their nature and complexity. 

You can often simply “lift and shift” newer applications into a cloud environment when they’re already designed to work there. However, other times a partial or complete refactoring of an application is necessary. In these instances, different parts of the application, like the front-end interface, back-end, or storage, need to be rebuilt to work on cloud infrastructure. 

Network Transformation 

When your IT infrastructure is entirely on-premise, every server, application, and other asset sits behind the same perimeter firewall. When you move your resources to the cloud, your network architecture must evolve. 

For example, you can do away with running a VPN to authenticate users because they can connect directly to the cloud resources they need. And since you can take advantage of software-defined networking (SDN) in the cloud, you can easily spin up new resources, like virtual servers and desktops, anytime you need them. Then, when you don’t need those assets anymore, they’re easy to decommission and scale back down. 

What’s the Difference Between Cloud Transformation and Cloud Migration? 

The migration of your applications, network services, and data is only one component of a cloud digital transformation. More important than the technology is the transformation of your business practices. Moving to the cloud will enable your organization to optimize performance, improve management and reporting, and adopt new business strategies. 

You’ll be able to see these advantages even early in the transformation process. And then, you’ll be able to leverage those first improvements into greater and greater performance gains as your cloud transformation matures. 

Optimizing performance and improving management 

Shifting your IT systems to a cloud environment allows you to scale your infrastructure up and down whenever you need to. For example, capacity planning becomes significantly more manageable when you don’t need to overbuild on-premises infrastructure in anticipation of spikes in business activity. 

Cloud applications can offer real-time insight into how your business is running. You can also shift your development to entirely virtual environments in the cloud that you spin up when needed and then decommission as soon as you’re ready to launch a new service. Detailed reporting and analytics also allow you to finetune everything about your cloud-based operations. 

Opening new strategic opportunities 

Collecting those analytics allows you to set meaningful benchmarks for your cloud-based business practices. With those benchmarks in place, you’ll easily be able to monitor how your company is performing and how well you’re working towards your strategic goals. 

Are lagging gaps opening up in your performance? Or are you overachieving in some strategic metrics? These valuable indicators will allow you to modify your company’s roadmap and set new goals on a much faster cycle. 

Prepare your personnel for your cloud digital transformation 

As you can see, a cloud digital transformation will provide your company with many new capabilities. But you’ll only see the benefits of those capabilities if your personnel are ready to take advantage of them. 

Prepare your people early on for the changes you want to see. They need to be ready to learn new workflows and technologies and to react faster to the new information they’ll have at their fingertips. 

Proper training will also help reduce resistance to the new workflows you must introduce as part of your transformation. Even then, as soon as the advantages of operating in a cloud-based IT environment become apparent, teams will fully buy into this new, more productive way of working. 

Cloud Transformations Result in Many Positive Outcomes 

A digital cloud transformation keeps your company current with the latest technological trends and how employees work. When tight labour markets make it challenging to attract top talent, offering the latest tools and technology can be what tips a candidate into choosing you. 

While cloud transformations can have that kind of immediate impact, they’re really about generating longer-term strategic advantages for you. The three main advantages you can expect to see are: 

More cost-effective operations 

Shifting storage and computing to the cloud eliminates all of the overhead that comes with running an on-premises data center. You’ll only pay for the resources you use in a given billing cycle and can scale up or down as needed. That means you don’t need to worry about building surge capacity into your infrastructure plan as you would with an on-premises environment. 

Increased agility 

When you can scale capacity up or down on demand, your company will be much more capable of handling those spikes in activity around new product launches, seasonal traffic, or new projects you want to start. As your cloud migration matures, you’ll also be much better positioned to respond to unexpected market conditions or new threats from your competition as well. 

Find New Efficiencies 

Companies that shift their workflows to the cloud can expect to streamline many of the ways they work. For example, companies moving to use a codeless, cloud-based ITSM software can expect to see a 20 percent reduction in configuration times and up to three times less effort spent on service requests. 

Find New Competitive Advantages By Starting a Cloud Digital Transformation 

If your company is looking to hold or improve its position in the market, a cloud transformation can give you the edge you need. Not only will you see costs drop and workflows become more efficient, but you’ll also open up whole new business opportunities. 

You don’t need to go all at once either. Instead, find an area where you can expect to see some quick gains moving to the cloud and go from there.