What is cloud? In MarTech, it can mean many things to many people. An issue in our industry is that often times the word “cloud” is synonymous with “inexpensive” and “easy” to marketers and IT professionals who don't fully understand. This gives marketers and IT professionals permission to avoid any rigor up front. Unfortunately, these definitions aren’t always accurate. Specific cloud implementations can offer marketers and organisations significant benefits. However, these benefits wind up being about competitive advantage, flexibility, scalability, and speed to market, and are not easy or cheap. MarTech leaders and strategists need a way to ensure success in this area. The steps, below, provide a roadmap to success.
Step 1 – Vision/Purpose
You want to get alignment on what you're trying to gain from moving to the cloud and the specific implementations of cloud in your environment. Get past talking about cloud and buying the cloud because it's the shiny new toy or the thing that everybody else is doing. Make very specific goals as to how this is going to move your organisation forward.
Step 2 - Use Cases
In the past when implementing legacy deployments, marketers could frequently just buy it and/or build it and, for the most part, figure out what you want to do with it later. For cloud, you need to have a vision for how you want to leverage this technology, not just the “what” but the “why” and the “how” as well. You need use cases to demonstrate how you want to use the cloud and the success criteria for when you know you did it right. Make sure to get some detail around this.
Step 3 – Architecture
You're going to want a picture of what your current architecture looks like today and map that to your future architecture in the role that cloud plays in that. It is important to decide:
- Where cloud will sit and where it will fit into your current stack
- What applications it’s supporting
- What data and databases it will contain
- What end users and customers will IT support
- What are the new capabilities that it brings to the enterprise
Step 4 - Data strategy
You want to drill down from architecture into the data. You're going to want to get very specific about what attributes are involved, what volumes are involved, and what kind of transformations are required on that data. What kind of throughput is required, what sources are this data coming from, what destinations is it going to? Truly, the devil is in the detail here.
Step 5 – Your Cloud End Consumers
Spend some time on who the customers and end users are going to be of any of the data or capabilities coming from your cloud initiative. Take an inventory of who they are where are they. What's their role and what is their need from your organisation?
Step 6 – Compliance
A critical step that needs to be looked at early on is compliance and privacy. You're going to want to understand your internal and end client constraints around data before you move to the cloud, pick a cloud solution, and select a cloud vendor. Try to get some of the do's and don'ts from your stakeholders early, even before you've made selections or decisions. What's important in this step is that oftentimes compliance around data can vary between on-prem solutions, private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid clouds. You'll want to understand the details around what data can go where and what any restrictions on data may exist.
Step 7 – The Cloud Plan
This step takes the most effort and will be the step that fails if you don't complete the previous six steps. Here is where you create a holistic strategic roadmap and look at the following:
- Your current architecture
- Your future architecture including cloud options
- The “type” of cloud you want to deploy
- and this bounced against the use cases
Once you have done the above then you will be ready to start looking at cloud approaches, options, and vendors. Begin looking at cloud capabilities you may need/want (ex, hybrid, public, private multi-clouds, on prem) along with specific cloud “type” applications (data lake, analytic) to compare pros and cons and find the “right fit” for your organisation. The right fit might not always be the top player, most popular, or what your competition just bought.
Step 8 – Deployment Approach & Strategy
Once you've completed your first cloud deployment and its operational, this initiative will be the first cloud initiative on a long-term marketing technology road map. This initiative should be on the same road map as all your other MarTech initiatives and major IT deployments. You can then use it to start mapping out where you are going next with cloud and how you can continue to migrate from on-prem to cloud.
By going through the above eight steps, you should have a very clear picture of what your cloud strategy will look like and what your first cloud initiative looks like, including what the effort and investment might look like. These are the pieces you need to ensure that your first cloud project is the first of many.