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March 1, 2023 | Channing Lovett

Cloud Adoption Strategy: An Approach To IT Modernization

The pool of businesses that don’t use cloud in some way is shrinking every year as more IT leaders create and deploy their cloud adoption strategies. In fact, according to Forrester’s The State of Cloud in North America 2022 report, 94% of US enterprise infrastructure decision-makers are using at least one type of cloud deployment (public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multicloud). Additionally, 64% of respondents noted that modernization is a top IT/operations priority for 2023.

Although more companies have adopted the cloud, many have done so in a haphazard fashion by addressing needs as they’re realized rather than use a pre-planned strategy for cloud adoption. Those who take a piece-by-piece adoption approach are more prone to cloud sprawl, which can lead to:

  • Unnecessary complexity
  • Cloud budget waste
  • Compliance issues
  • Security gaps
  • Reduced agility

In order to promote IT modernization and prevent future headaches associated with cloud sprawl, IT leaders should take time to develop and deploy a structured plan that will serve as a guide for implementing and governing the cloud and its resources across their organization. With that, let’s explore what exactly a cloud adoption strategy is, challenges to keep in mind, and what to include throughout the planning process.

What is a Cloud Adoption Strategy?

A cloud adoption strategy details the reason and approach an organization will take when moving to the cloud. This could include best practices, business goals, and the steps a business needs to take to achieve cloud adoption, defined by Amazon Web Services (AWS) as envision, align, launch, and scale – we’ll explore each of these later on.

On a high level, an adoption strategy is the foundation for deploying and governing the use of the cloud across the entire organization. Additionally, it should help the IT organization communicate the importance of cloud to the rest of the organization and explain how existing workloads and data can be moved to improve efficiency, modernize systems, boost automation and integration capabilities, and more.

Challenges to Overcome When Building a Cloud Adoption Strategy

Building a cloud adoption strategy can come with complications and challenges. Being aware of what your business might encounter, and planning for it along the way, will help your cloud adoption strategy go smoothly.


Cloud computing comes with a lot of advantages, but the added ease of access and flexibility also means additional endpoints and vulnerabilities that can be used to infiltrate your business. Cloud platforms have security regulations they need to abide by, helping your organizations stay better protected in the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be protected from every potential threat. Understanding how cloud environments work together, and what measures are or aren’t in place, can help improve your security posture.


Working with several vendors can help your organization get the exact cloud configuration you need, but it also opens the door to added complexity. Using more than one cloud provider can complicate billing, compliance, and application and workload management across all environments, not to mention potential security concerns. The better visibility you have across vendors, the less it will be a problem to operate between them.


Compliance concerns vary by industry and region, but can include data protection needs (GDPR and the like), specific procedures for sensitive financial or medical data, or complying with regulations set by an industry agency or governmental body. Best practices can be even harder to establish when compliance needs to be met in different ways on different cloud platforms.


Leadership can be slow to greenlight a project if proving the ROI is difficult. While cloud adoption can save money on capital expenditures, like hardware, physical data center rentals, utilities, and so on, the initial migration process can feel like extra spending to stakeholders that don’t see the bigger picture of a model that prioritizes automation and in-house resources. Creating a cloud adoption strategy that proposes migration in phases can help establish a lower point of entry and make a case for further cloud adoption.

IT Skill Gap

Without the right team members at the helm, it can be near impossible to execute on a cloud adoption strategy, or form one in the first place. Organizations are feeling the pinch from a shortage of IT skills in the market and over three-quarters of companies are looking for ways to address this discrepancy. Cybersecurity specialists alone represent a huge gap in the workforce, which currently stands at 3.4 million. Talent shortage and skills gaps in the U.S. are predicted to cause a loss of $8.5 trillion by 2030. For most businesses, looking outside the organization for providers who can be part of a cloud strategy team will be the only way to continue to modernize and stay competitive.

What Are the Stages of Cloud Adoption?

AWS and Azure have developed specific cloud adoption frameworks that can be used as guidance during the cloud adoption process. Both frameworks leverage knowledge from industry best practices and their respective in-house experts to help organizations improve cloud readiness and achieve successful cloud enabled digital transformations. Let’s dive into the stages of cloud adoption, according to the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF).

Cloud Adoption Stages According to AWS

AWS CAF groups its capabilities into six areas: business, people, governance, platform, security, and operations. These perspectives encompass and identify capabilities that are owned and managed by specific stakeholders. After you align each area to their respective owners, you can follow through with the following stages of cloud adoption:


Begin by pinpointing and prioritizing opportunities that align with your strategic objectives. During this stage, you should also match your initiatives to relevant stakeholders and define measurable business outcomes to demonstrate value throughout your cloud transformation.


Determine any gaps within capabilities and cross-organizational dependencies to develop ways to enhance cloud readiness, ensure stakeholders are in agreement, and promote necessary changes within the organization.


Run pilots in production and see how they impact business value. Study each pilot and learn how you need to adjust your strategy before launching into full production.


Expand successful pilots to your organization’s desired scale and ensure any business benefits associated with your cloud investments are acknowledged and long-standing.

How to Plan a Cloud Adoption Strategy

Need help planning your cloud adoption strategy? Here are a few best practices to help you get started:

Consider the Business Value

When planning your cloud adoption strategy, you should be able to answer the following:

  • How can a cloud investment help solve business problems, enable further innovation, and, overall, achieve your ideal long-time business goals?
  • How will you prioritize delivery of high-value cloud products and initiatives?
  • How can you plan migration to achieve cloud success?
  • How will you project and measure the impact of your cloud adoption strategy?
  • Which cloud platforms will meet your governance and compliance needs?

Pick Your Platform

Thoroughly research your cloud options, and pinpoint which workloads will work best in which cloud environment – be it public, private, hybrid, or multicloud. With this information on-hand, select your platform(s) and establish guidelines, principles, and guardrails for your architecture.

Keep in mind, it’s ideal to leverage platforms that have the capacity to meet your needs now and in the future so you can try to avoid a large migration if you outgrow your baseline infrastructure. With that, distributed cloud can be the happy compromise between private cloud and public cloud configurations. Multiple clouds can still be used to meet compliance, performance, or data security requirements, but with distributed cloud, they’re all managed centrally by a public cloud provider.

Define Operations and Management Guidelines

When developing your cloud adoption strategy, creating guidelines around operations and management is key. This area of your plan should include, but is not limited to, things like:

  • Design principles to follow
  • How to optimize operations to allow for scalability while delivering business outcomes
  • Ways to improve the reliability of workloads
  • Cloud environment monitoring
  • How to ensure availability and continuity of critical data and applications

Maintain Governance

Document how your cloud initiatives will maximize overall benefits for your organization while also minimizing any risks associated with cloud transformation. During this phase, set up policies, define how corporate policies will be enforced across platforms, and determine identity and access management to prevent the risk of future cloud sprawl. Additionally, consider how you can incorporate cost management and cloud cost optimization strategies to reduce unnecessary budget spend.

Establish Security, Disaster Recovery, and Resilience Practices

IT resilience can be make or break for business revenue, productivity, and reputation. Build holistic security and ongoing security management, for example a disaster recovery plan checklist and data resiliency plan. These plans include the following best practices within your security plan:

Decrease the Talent Gap

The talent gap is one of the biggest challenges organizations have to contend with when working toward cloud adoption, and it’s a necessary obstacle to overcome. Part of your cloud adoption strategy should include promoting a culture of continuous growth and learning. Focus on providing internal learning opportunities and workshops that…

  • Enhance cloud fluency
  • Help transform the workplace to enable and modernize roles
  • Evolve alignment with and accelerate new ways of working in the cloud

Choosing the Right Computing and Deployment Models for Cloud Adoption

The computing and deployment models you choose for cloud adoption should be based on your workloads, what is most urgent to move, and any dependencies you need to keep in mind. While some organizations may opt for private or public cloud platforms for their initial cloud adoption project, more and more businesses are moving to hybrid and multicloud infrastructure to suit the varied needs of their workloads.

Hybrid Cloud Adoption

For companies interested in keeping some of their legacy applications and data in an on-premises data center, hybrid cloud adoption can be a flexible solution. Hybrid cloud includes a mix of public cloud (such as AWS) and private cloud (like an on-premises data center) resources. If there’s an application that will take too much effort to modernize, or perhaps there’s a need for tighter security on certain workloads, hybrid cloud infrastructure can accommodate these needs. There’s no need to rush to move an entire tech stack at one time. The process can be done incrementally, enabled by hybrid cloud.

Multicloud Adoption

Organizations that take a multicloud approach use multiple public cloud services, typically from different cloud providers, to satisfy different organizational requirements. For example, an organization may use a public cloud service like AWS to host its front-end web application and host its analytics platform in Azure. For multicloud and hybrid cloud, it’s important to be mindful of the complexity that can come from managing more than one platform. Working with third-party service providers that specialize in cloud complexity can help, especially if your internal IT team is already feeling stretched.

Cloud-Native, Cloud-First, and Cloud-Only Adoption

The architectural principles you follow to determine your cloud adoption should be based on your workloads, applications, what workloads/applications are most urgent to move, the characteristics and requirements of each workload/application, and any other dependencies you need to keep in mind. Try running an exercise using the 7 R’s of cloud migration (Retain, Rehost, Revise, Rearchitect, Rebuild, Replace, and Retire) to determine if you should focus your efforts on: 

  • Cloud-native application adoption 
  • Cloud-first adoption 
  • Cloud-only adoption 

Cloud-Native Adoption

Organizations focused on cloud-native adoption will prioritize technologies and services available via the cloud platform or provider being used, making the switch from original systems to cloud-native applications. This can look like taking advantage of tools provided by AWS and Microsoft Azure, for example.

Cloud-First Adoption

Cloud-first is when organizations always think about cloud-based solutions first before implementing a new IT system or replacing an existing one. In this scenario, you prefer to develop directly on cloud platforms from the start. There may be a reason to select an on-premises solution, whether it’s due to how it works with your other systems, the time it would take to switch things over, or necessary features not being available in cloud-based apps, but this strategy also doesn’t exclude non-cloud solutions.

Cloud-Only Adoption

With cloud-only adoption, organizations would look to cloud-based solutions to replace all of their current systems and fulfill all of their IT and organizational needs. Achieving a cloud-only adoption is manageable in theory, due to the many solutions available in the cloud. However, taking a cloud-only approach will largely depend on the in-house or third-party resources employed to take this on, as well as how willing those who use the current systems are to change.

Accelerate Your Cloud Adoption Journey with the Help of TierPoint

Successful cloud adoption, deployment, and management all boils down to bringing in the right people who are qualified to handle your specific business requirements. Even with a robust internal team, organizations can benefit from bringing in an outside perspective. A managed services cloud provider can take your business goals, desired outcomes, and current IT environment, and help you identify the best roadmap to cloud adoption.

Need help building your cloud adoption strategy? TierPoint is here to help. We offer cloud readiness and cloud migration assessments to help build the best roadmap for your cloud adoption journey. Contact us to begin your assessment or download our Journey to the Cloud eBook to improve your cloud strategy.

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