Cloud First: A Key Business Strategy

What is Cloud First?

Cloud First is a term rapidly gaining popularity, but what does it mean? Who started saying it and why does it matter to you and your organization?

Beginning as a U.S. government initiative in 2010, the Cloud First mandate was a single policy in a 25-point plan to reform the federal government’s information technology (IT) management. Initially, Cloud First was aimed to reduce operational and IT solution development costs. To do this, each government agency selected three on-premises solutions to immediately and fully migrate to the Cloud.

Overall, Cloud First goals are:

  1. Agile software (i.e. rapid and adaptive response to change)
  2. Reduce on-site hardware
  3. Subscriptions over license payments
  4. Highly available, transparent services

With a solid implementation plan, organizations can reap immense rewards for adopting Cloud First strategies. In the first five years since federal Cloud First mandates, the U.S. federal government saved $3.6B, and is slated to see more savings as they prepare to close 5,000 data centers by 2019 (U.S. GOA).

However, these benefits can’t be reached overnight. Like any other initiative, adopting Cloud First is its own journey involving multiple steps: Cloud Migration, Cloud Adoption, and finally, Cloud First.

  Stages of Cloud Maturity  by Mike Ensor, VP of Delivery

Stages of Cloud Maturity by Mike Ensor, VP of Delivery

Cloud Migration

Moving to the Cloud from traditional on-premises solution begins with Cloud Migrations. Also, called “lift and shift,” this activity is a series of incremental application migrations without re-architecting them to leverage Cloud features and services. Typically, this results in a Hybrid Cloud where on-premise and public/private Cloud services are used in tandem. While Hybrid Clouds offer the allure of avoiding a full transition, it can lead to frustrating and time-consuming problems (i.e. maintaining two separate environments).

Cloud Adoption

The next maturity phase is “Cloud Adoption.” At this stage, most organizations use Cloud-only static environments and default to their Clouds network services. Additionally, they begin using predominantly self-managed services. Using containerization and dynamic infrastructure allows applications to scale with demand rapidly and reliably. This phase requires more time and investment than a Cloud Migration, but results are far superior.

Reaching Cloud First

Once you achieve Cloud Migration and Adoption, the final stage of maturity is reaching “Cloud First.” At this level, applications are built specifically to run in the Cloud using all the services and features available. Building Cloud applications does lock you in to using one Cloud provider. The technology solutions and services from one Cloud provider may not be compatible with the solutions provided by another. However, applications that are designed completely on and for the Cloud gain agility, flexibility and durability that exceeds less mature solutions. Combined with reduced risk and cost of deployments gained by using dynamic environments and architecture, Cloud applications tend to be highly automated and scalable, and low-risk.

Plan your Transitions

Maturing your Cloud strategy is not something that can be done overnight. Everyone is in a different place – achieving a Cloud First approach requires careful planning and dedication. Some companies have push-button deployment and completely automated scaling of their applications, while others are deploying microservices to the Cloud for the first time. Ensure that your organization understands your Cloud readiness to help you pave the path to successfully implement a Cloud First strategy.  


Are you migrating to the Cloud? Do you need help determining your Cloud readiness? Contact Dev9 to begin your Cloud journey.