Part 1

Picture a world in which you have no servers or other permanent IT infrastructure on your business premises. A purely subscription-based world, where all you need to think about are your data and processes. Upgrades, availability and scalability are all someone else’s problem – and on their budget, too. And your people can work anywhere; all they need is an internet connection. Software or security upgrade or other new resources? No problem: they open their device, regardless of where they are and it’s there. The whole package is secured, governed and delivered for you from the cloud – and it’s all ready for innovation, so you’ve always got access to the latest-and-greatest of everything. Effectively, your premises become a kind of exclusive internet café, open only to your teams, who bring their own devices and use it when they need to.

This simple, streamlined, highly flexible scenario is often referred to as the Cloud Utopia. As we know, ‘Utopia’ usually means an imagined, ideal world where everything’s perfect and, by implication, one we’re never likely to see. But as an architect, what I find so exciting about the Cloud Utopia is that it’s actually entirely realistic and achievable.

Common sense suggests getting there should be easier for so-called ‘cloud-born’ organisations; the ones who’ve always and only ever used cloud-based solutions, unburdened by legacy systems. That’s true up to a point, but the barriers are usually cognitive and personal, rather than technical. So many companies tell us they want to be cloud-based, then proceed to list all the specific reasons they can’t be.

The point about Cloud Utopia is that it’s a journey. It might take six months or five years: what’s important is that you’re clear about where you’re going. In other words: what does Cloud Utopia look like to you?
Once we understand this, we can apply our Acora Trusted Digital Framework to help you develop a roadmap, in line with your overall IT and cloud strategy. This will depend on a range of factors. For example: Are you in a regulated, high-compliance industry that requires specific applications? How long has your current IT platform been in place? Are you cloud-born or dealing with legacy systems? What kind of journey have you been on as a business, in terms of acquisitions, investment in IT and so on?

Crucially, how much experience does your IT team have, at all levels? Your answers will, of course, determine your exact destination. But as an architect, my vision is that you arrive at a point where you’re simply no longer worried about your ‘plumbing’. Instead, your business’s IT is delivered entirely through Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service solutions, to meet the needs of the data age as it is now, not as it once was.

The precise journey you take will also be unique, but working across verticals from manufacturing to finance, legal to not-for-profit means we have a huge range of experience and insight to guide us. Broadly speaking there are six areas we’ll need to consider:

1.  Identity
2.  Device Management
3.  Communications
4.  Security
5.  Applications
6.  Data

Under our Acora Trusted Digital Framework, we’ll ensure your solution is secure by design, fully cost-optimised and, perhaps most importantly, ready for innovation.

That last point really matters because achieving Cloud Utopia is absolutely contingent upon your ability to adopt new technologies as they emerge. Cloud Utopia isn’t a fixed point, but a dynamic state. With evergreen products like Windows 10, big system-wide changes every few years have been replaced by constant updates to both the OS and surrounding products, and we’re all expected to keep up.

It’s important to recognise that there’s a mutual dependency at play here. As a business, you can’t realise your Cloud Utopia ambitions if you’re not ready for innovation. But equally, you can’t properly judge which innovations to adopt if you don’t have a clear idea of where you’re trying to get to.

Going full cloud-based is a significant move, but it’s one we’ve helped many clients to make. It’s also a journey we’re on ourselves at Acora, so we can draw on our own first-hand, real-world experience of making this change.

We’ll talk more about Cloud Utopia in Part 2. In the meantime, if you have specific questions or would just like to find out more, please contact us.