Cloud First Strategy: Benefits, Challenges, & Implementation

By Boomi

Adopting a cloud-first strategy is an increasingly popular approach for businesses of all sizes—from small businesses to enterprise organizations. For example, over half of the world’s largest organizations are transitioning their core business processes from legacy, on-premises ERP systems to cloud-based solutions.

This shift away from traditional on-premises software to cloud-based SaaS applications has been gaining momentum for nearly a decade, and it’s only getting more prevalent. Because of this shift, organizations are increasingly taking a cloud-first approach to evaluating their business applications.

But what exactly does a “cloud-first strategy” mean? And how does it benefit your business? Read on to learn more about why your organization should consider a cloud-first strategy.

What Is a Cloud-First Strategy?

A cloud-first strategy is an approach to business systems infrastructure that prioritizes cloud-based solutions over legacy, on-premises solutions. Cloud-first solutions include cloud storage, SaaS applications, and other cloud-based services.

However, a cloud-first approach does not entirely exclude on-premises systems. Cloud-first simply means that, when the time comes to find a new business solution, cloud-based options are considered first.

What Are the Benefits of a Cloud-First Strategy?

Lower Cost of Ownership

A cloud-first strategy reduces or eliminates expenses associated with legacy, on-premises business systems. Because SaaS applications operate in the cloud, cloud-first organizations are able to save on hosting, maintenance, temperature control, and all other costs associated with operating servers on-site.

Scalable Storage and Applications

Cloud-based applications automatically scale to meet demand in real-time. This means that no matter how many people are using the application at the same time, there will always be enough storage and processing capacity to accommodate them. And when demand goes down, that storage and processing capacity contracts with it, so you only pay for what you need.

Increased IT Capacity

Because cloud-based SaaS applications are maintained off-site, IT professionals no longer have to spend time maintaining, upgrading, and fixing the servers that run the applications. This gives them more time to focus on higher value and more strategic tasks. And when the SaaS applications are integrated with each other, routine tasks can be automated, eliminating the need for tedious processes and freeing up time in other departments as well.

Continuous Upgrades

Cloud-based SaaS applications are developed, tested, maintained, and upgraded by experts who are dedicated to their specific SaaS applications. When a new feature is added or other improvements are made, those upgrades show up automatically, without the need to buy a new version or reinstall software locally.

Cloud-First Enables Data Integration

To unlock the full potential of a cloud-first strategy, organizations should integrate data from their suite of SaaS applications. By connecting all business applications to each other, data from all relevant systems is shared across the entire organization, automatically. This results in the democratization of data and the dismantling of silos across departments, ultimately facilitating the potential for greater collaboration, unexpected insights, and higher productivity.

A cloud-based integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution, like the Boomi Enterprise Platform, provides all the same benefits of SaaS applications in the context of application data integration. Because the solution is offered as a service, there’s no need to dedicate internal resources to developing or implementing your own integrations—it’s all handled for you.

Key Components of a Cloud-First Strategy

  • Cloud Adoption and Migration. Shifting from on-premises data centers to cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and services. This often involves migrating existing applications and data to the cloud and developing new applications with a cloud-native approach.
  • Cloud Service Models

    • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Provides virtualized computing resources over the internet, such as virtual machines and storage.
    • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Offers a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without dealing with the underlying infrastructure.
    • Software as a Service (SaaS): Delivers software applications over the internet on a subscription basis.
  • Scalability and Flexibility. Utilizing the cloud’s ability to quickly scale resources up or down based on demand. This flexibility allows businesses to respond more swiftly to changes and opportunities.
  • Cost Management. Transitioning from capital expenditures (CapEx) associated with on-premises hardware to operational expenditures (OpEx) associated with cloud services. This pay-as-you-go model can lead to cost savings and better financial management.
  • Security and Compliance. Ensuring that cloud deployments adhere to industry standards and regulations. Implementing robust security measures to protect data and applications in the cloud.
  • Cloud-Native Development. Encouraging the development of applications specifically designed for the cloud, utilizing microservices architecture, containerization, and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines.

How a Cloud-First Strategy Works

Assessment and Planning

  • Evaluate Current Infrastructure: Assess the current IT infrastructure and identify which parts can be migrated to the cloud.
  • Define Business Goals: Align the cloud strategy with overall business goals, such as improving efficiency, reducing costs, or enhancing customer experience.
  • Risk Analysis: Identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies.

Choosing Cloud Providers

  • Select Suitable Providers: Choose cloud service providers (e.g., AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) based on the organization’s specific needs, such as compliance requirements, scalability, and cost.
  • Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Approaches: Consider hybrid (combining on-premises and cloud resources) or multi-cloud (using multiple cloud providers) strategies to avoid vendor lock-in and improve resilience.

Migration Strategy

  • Phased Migration: Start with less critical systems and gradually move to more critical ones to minimize disruption.
  • Data Transfer: Ensure secure and efficient transfer of data to the cloud.

Optimization and Management

  • Monitor Performance: Continuously monitor cloud performance and optimize resources to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Security Management: Implement and maintain robust security practices, including encryption, access control, and regular audits.

Training and Change Management

  • Employee Training: Provide training for employees to ensure they can effectively use and manage cloud services.
  • Change Management: Manage the organizational change process to ensure a smooth transition to cloud-based operations.

Cloud-First Case Study: Moderna and Boomi

To speed development of the medical innovations that could improve lives, Moderna decided it would be a cloud-first company, using only SaaS applications. The goal was to use a cloud-first approach to help accelerate learning, automate processes, and improve quality at scale.

To harness the full power of the cloud, Moderna needed to integrate its SaaS applications and data. This meant interconnecting an application portfolio that included SAP ERP, Workday, Solium (now Shareworks), and Concur.

Boomi’s cloud-native integration platform allowed Moderna to scale efficiently by integrating systems and automating complex, cross-platform business transactions that included budgeting, vendor payments, and human resources management. These integrations also helped reduce inefficient administrative overhead for Moderna’s scientists.

At every step in its progress as a biomedical pioneer, Moderna has relied on Boomi to break down data and application integration barriers that would slow the pace of innovation.

To learn more about Boomi’s role in helping cloud-first companies, read the full Moderna case study.

Whether your organization is moving to the cloud or is already there, our experts can help you find a solution for integrating your data and applications, automate processes, and make work flow faster and easier throughout your business.