How to Select the Right Industry Cloud for Your Business

The cloud market is going vertical, targeting businesses in specific industries. Yet finding the best match at the right price requires careful research and planning.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

December 18, 2023

4 Min Read
Cloud computing concept
Jacek Lasa via Alamy Stock

Industry cloud platforms are designed to meet the unique needs of vertical industry customers inadequately served by generic solutions. Yet finding a service that covers all the bases at reasonable terms can be a challenging task.

The main thing to consider when selecting a cloud provider is identifying candidates that fit your company’s requirements, advises James Meade, digital solution architecture director with NTT Data Services in an email interview.

Look inward when considering industry cloud providers, suggests Brian Campbell, a principal in Deloitte Consulting’s strategy practice. “An industry cloud should be closely tied to your business strategy,” he says via email.

Find the fastest path to value, Campbell says. Many generic cloud players also offer specific industry cloud solutions. Pre-existing vendor relationships may make some platforms easier to integrate than others. “Strive to preserve flexibility and the ability to innovate,” he advises. The market is rapidly evolving, and monolithic implementations are giving way to user-friendly building blocks that are continuously improved. “These are proving to provide the greatest advantage,” Campbell observes.

Start Searching

Begin with your organization’s current business strategy and work backwards, Campbell suggests. Consider the most important capabilities, then scan for solutions that can be leveraged in those particular areas. “However, ensure that you take a wider view as well, so you don’t lock yourself into your current ecosystem,” he adds.

Related:Amazon CTO Talks Cloud, Creative Architecture, and Cost

An industry cloud package should also be evaluated on the basis of how well it meshes with existing applications and storage requirements. “Re-educating the support staff to work with the new cloud environment can be costly and complex without the right guidance and precautions in place,” Meade cautions.

Comparison Shopping

Don’t overlook your due diligence when searching for the right industry cloud for your organization. In a recent email interview, Bernie Hoecker, a partner and enterprise cloud transformation lead with technology research and advisory firm ISG, suggests breaking the industry cloud selection process into eight basic steps.

1. Define your requirements. Outline your organization’s technical and business requirements and establish defined business goals and outcomes. The goals should be approved by senior management and coupled with strong management and governance practices.

2. Consider your overall cloud strategy. In many cases, a firm has already established a hybrid/multi-cloud strategy for internal and external workloads. It’s critical to have the industry cloud aligned with the overall enterprise cloud strategy and to ensure that the firm’s data, security, and cost are integrated into an enterprise-wide IT and business strategy.

Related:What You Need to Know About Hybrid Cloud Computing

3. Perform a needs assessment. Conduct a review of the existing IT environment to identify gaps that should be addressed during the industry cloud journey.

4. Examine the cloud’s support attributes. The platform should offer strong data management and analytics functions to inform decision-making.

5. Understand the pricing structure. Consider the total cost of ownership, including any possible hidden costs.

6. Budget wisely. Establish a multi-year budget for deploying and running the industry cloud. The budget should focus on ROI and the value the cloud will bring to the enterprise and end-user clients.

7. Research. Meet with multiple cloud service providers, consultants, and services firms specializing in your specific industry. Also explore industry forums, associations, user groups, publications, and case studies to learn from others about their industry cloud experiences and models.

8. Ensure regulatory compliance. Be certain that the cloud selected complies with industry-specific regulations and standards.

Related:Getting Aggressive with Cloud Cybersecurity

Proceed with Caution

One of the biggest mistakes IT leaders make when shopping for an industry cloud is searching for a solution without first constructing a holistic strategy, Campbell says. He recommends focusing on areas that will maximize the overall investment value, including data management and security operations, while ensuring both business and IT buy-in.

Due to multiple factors, including, compliance, business continuity, customer trust, and financial health, cybersecurity should be a central consideration when assessing industry clouds, says Nigel Gibbons, a director and partner with cyber threat consultancy NCC Group. “Businesses store sensitive data in the cloud, such as customer details, financial records, and intellectual property, making cybersecurity essential to safeguard against unauthorized access and breaches,” he notes. Gibbons adds that it’s also important to be aware of data sovereignty requirements and the impact of laws on where and how data is stored, particularly for businesses operating internationally.

Final Thought

To ensure tight alignment with both present and future business goals it’s important to choose a forward-looking provider, Gibbons says. “It’s essential to future-proof investments by choosing a provider that regularly innovates and updates its offerings.”

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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