With cloud computing existing for some time now, many organizations have come to realize how the cloud can create massive benefits and efficiencies. According to one study, worldwide “whole cloud” spending is predicted to reach a stunning $565 billion by the end of next year.

Yet while cloud computing itself has become one of the most disruptive technologies in recent memory, integrating cloud computing into an organization is a different story. There are many different decisions to make throughout this process. While these decisions are reversible, they cost both time and money.

Ultimately, one of the best strategies can be summed up in the following mantra:

“Go long-term cloud native, short-term cloud first.”

Keeping these short-term and long-term visions in mind can help you deliver better experiences for customers and employees, ensure your organization is future ready while saving cash in the long-run.

The Benefits of “Cloud First”

Let’s start with “cloud first. „Cloud first essentially refers to software solutions that are specifically designed to utilize modern cloud computing functionality. Some of these solutions are well-known. They include services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Using these (or other tools), companies can leverage their resources and maximize their overall investment. With these tools at their disposal, companies place a higher priority on using shared, publicly-hosted infrastructure compared to building and hosting private storage systems and facilities.

Ultimately, there are many benefits to adopting a cloud first strategy in the short-term. Most notably, there are cost benefits. While there are recurring costs by using one of the services mentioned above, they can reduce an organization’s hosting, equipment, and labor costs. In effect, organizations are eliminating costs (some of which may be significant) in maintaining and improving legacy systems. Eliminating these costs and paying low fees per month with third-party cloud providers creates massive cost savings for all kinds of organizations.

But along with these cost savings, cloud first makes it easy to implement lift and shift. It is a less intense and expensive migration strategy compared to other processes. The total cost of ownership (“TCO”) is lower under a cloud first approach and right-sizing is easier to implement. Overall, it provides a much better and cleaner experience than relying on internally-hosted applications and servers.

These are just some of the benefits that you get by adopting a cloud first approach. In terms of timing, we say “short-term cloud first” because it is a seamless and effective way to implement cloud computing in your organization, operated by a lift and shift approach. In other words, if you are starting from scratch, the cloud first strategy is a great way to get started.

However, one risk is if you adopt a piecemeal approach. One survey revealed that 29% of IT professionals and their organizations had a centralized approach to moving their applications to the crowd. More troubling, however, is the fact that 42% reported that migrations occurred on an ad hoc basis. This ad hoc approach to a cloud first strategy makes it extremely difficult to leverage all of the potential cost savings. A short-term cloud first approach requires buy-in from your entire organization, so keep this in mind as you get started.

Transitioning from Cloud First to Cloud Native

Adopting a cloud first strategy is only the first step of the process, however. Generally speaking, your long-term goal should be to adopt a “cloud native” strategy.

If you haven’t yet heard of the term cloud native, you can think of it as “the ultimate goal line for enterprises looking to modernize their infrastructure and process.” Cloud native refers more to how an application is built and deployed and less to where the application itself resides (like on AWS or Google Cloud). Essentially, cloud native applications contain microservices, which act as building blocks for an entire application.

Like cloud first applications, cloud native applications provide a wealth of benefits to all types of organizations. For instance, cloud native capitalizes on a cloud independent application architecture. Microservices can be independently scaled, tested, and iterated, which lets organizations continue to improve their cloud native applications. In other words, improvements can be made independently and non-intrusively. The end-user doesn’t experience any downtime or disruption, which is critical for maintaining an excellent user experience.

But along with this, creating a cloud native application means that you are ready for both the present and the future. The cloud native development process matches the speed and innovation that is all too necessary in today’s business environment. But even beyond the present, cloud native applications are going to be critical for the future. One study predicts that over 80% of enterprise apps will be cloud-based or in the process of transferring to cloud-native apps. Ultimately, this is the “long-term” part of “go long-term cloud native.” If you can start investing in cloud native apps now, you will be well-prepared for the future.

Nonetheless, there is one major weakness of cloud first applications. That is the fact that it can be expensive to redesign your application architecture. There may be some significant sticker shock when you first hear about the costs. At times, the costs may be triple what organizations expect. Your organization will need to be prepared for these costs if you are looking to leverage cloud native applications.

This is why we encourage companies to “go long-term cloud native.” This approach lets you gather resources and get your team on the same page before making the switch. It can make the switch less intimidating and increase your odds of success.

Keeping the Short-Term and Long-Term in Mind

In the end, going “long-term cloud native, short-term cloud first” lets your company get the best of both worlds. Cloud native is a 10-year program. It lets your organization change your application architecture and make it future-ready. Nevertheless, the investment in cloud native applications is time-intensive. While you are preparing for the switch, you can leverage a cloud first approach. Cloud first enables direct cost-savings that can later fund the modernization of your applications. In effect, you use a cloud first approach to transition into a cloud native approach.

No matter the size or sector of your organization, we encourage you to follow this strategy. Doing so, you can put your organization in a fantastic position to leverage all these benefits of cloud technology.