4 Benefits Of Cloud-first Development For Enterprises

July 19, 2023 Business, Web development

Today, increasingly more business leaders are willing to invest in cloud-managed infrastructure and services. As of Q4 2022, 41.4% of organizations have been increasing their use of cloud-based solutions, while 32.8% have been moving their workloads to the cloud, according to Google Cloud Brand Pulse Survey.

Some organizations modify their on-premise infrastructure step-by-step and gradually adopt cloud services, transitioning their existing design into hybrid, while others adopt a cloud-first development strategy to rapidly move most of their workloads to the cloud. While the second approach is more demanding, it can also be more advantageous when planned and done at the right time.

This article covers the main benefits of cloud-first development and provides some tips on how to build an effective cloud-first strategy. However, in any case, engaging cloud experts will significantly facilitate a smooth cloud migration. 

What is cloud-first development?

In short, cloud-first development implies migrating most of a digital corporate infrastructure to one of the public cloud platforms, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or IBM Cloud. Let us now consider the specific distinctive features of this approach.

For clarity, it is worth comparing cloud-first development with a more traditional cloud migration strategy, namely lift and shift. The main difference is that the lift and shift approach implies moving on-premise solutions to the cloud. In the case of cloud-first development, engineers build a solution from scratch or re-imagine an existing software and deploy it in the cloud directly.

Among other things, cloud-first is not only a software development approach but also a corporate culture. When meeting their technology or business challenges, cloud-first organizations prioritize the cloud over on-premise solutions.

Still, being cloud-first does not mean refusing physical hosting completely – an organization can build an adequate hybrid infrastructure combining cloud and on-premise strengths. However, by prioritizing the cloud over on-premise, organizations can gain significant competitive advantages.

What are the main benefits of cloud-first development?

Here are the four main considerations.

1. Streamlined IT management

Increased use of the cloud naturally reduces the burden of IT management. After all, organizations no longer need to maintain large amounts of servers and their bound software, on-premise data centers, and other physical equipment. 

Another benefit is that the adoption of a cloud-first strategy typically involves advanced automation that helps optimize software delivery. In particular, an organization can easier establish a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to automate software development solutions, testing, and delivery, while reducing manual labor for its IT department.

2. Enhanced scalability and flexibility

By adopting the cloud, an organization can quickly scale its workloads both vertically (by increasing computing power) and horizontally (by adding new machines to the existing ones). Thus, an organization can scale the cloud on demand to implement new features or increase the number of users, leading to more stable and smooth business growth.

In turn, cloud-first development allows organizations to scale even faster due to cost optimization. In other words, an organization can repurpose and invest all the resources it would otherwise spend on supporting an on-premise infrastructure in the cloud.

3. Advanced security

Among other things, adopting a cloud-first approach allows organizations to improve the security of their IT infrastructures. One reason is that cloud-first helps significantly reduce the number of legacy applications and systems that can pose data theft or loss risks.

In addition, using a cloud-first approach, an organization can delegate some responsibilities to the cloud vendor, which can also be beneficial from a security standpoint. But, apparently, this can be viable only if an organization chooses a reliable and credible cloud platform that guarantees data security.

For example, large cloud vendors usually offer highly secure environments that comply with GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and other standards. In addition, large vendors provide clients with specialized features (such as isolated networks or data encryption) that can also contribute to cyber security.

4. Accelerated innovation

Last but not least, with a cloud-first approach, organizations can leverage the advantages of the cloud faster than competitors. For instance, a cloud-first organization can quickly adopt emerging technologies such as AI, ML, and IoT without investing in and deploying an expensive physical infrastructure.

In addition, if fully equipped with cloud capabilities, organizations can deploy and deliver new services or products faster. In turn, this allows businesses to enter new market niches and increase the number of customers easier.

How to develop an effective cloud-first strategy?

Despite all the benefits, cloud-first development is a risky approach, as it often requires a radical business transformation. To work properly, cloud-first development requires the right strategy that takes into account the specifics of a particular business case. Here are some tips to help create such a strategy:

  • Assessing an existing IT infrastructure

First, an organization must determine whether its existing infrastructure and internal IT resources are ready for large-scale cloud migration. Then, by running a comprehensive assessment, an organization can decide which workloads could be more relevant for cloud migration. This, in turn, can help decision-makers estimate the scope and cost of future work.

  • Clearly defining business requirements and goals

To develop a practical and actionable strategy, decision-makers should clearly understand what exactly the organization needs to achieve by moving cloud-first. As an option, decision-makers can identify multiple objectives and KPIs requiring improvement, known challenges, and then decide on how the cloud can help. For this, it is helpful to use goal-setting worksheets.

  • Considering cloud experts’ opinion

Finally, we recommend following expert recommendations when creating a strategy. For example, an organization can engage a third-party cloud consultant to assess the viability of its cloud-first strategy. However, it is critical to ensure that a potential consultant has the required qualifications.

Final thoughts

Increasingly more organizations are moving to the cloud due to the unique benefits provided by this technology. Some adopters go further on their journeys to cloud transformation – they implement a cloud-first development approach, which implies moving most of the corporate IT workloads into the cloud.

Going cloud-first, organizations can significantly improve their IT infrastructures’ scalability, flexibility, and security. In addition, they can optimize IT resource management and innovate faster, leading to improved business performance and competitiveness.