Drawing from my extensive experience over the past several years dedicated to cloud adoption across various applications, it has become apparent that attaining a mature state — often termed the “nirvana” state — is neither immediate nor straightforward. Establishing a well-structured and effectively governed cloud footprint demands thorough planning and early investment. In this article, I aim to share insights and practical tips garnered from firsthand experience to assist in guiding your teams toward proactive preparation for cloud maturity, rather than addressing it as an afterthought.

Establish a comprehensive cloud onboarding framework for all teams and applications to adhere to. This framework will serve as a roadmap, guiding teams in making well-informed architectural decisions, such as selecting appropriate services and SKUs for each environment. Encourage teams to carefully consider networking and security requirements by creating topology diagrams and conducting reviews with a designated cloud onboarding committee. Implement cost forecasting tools to facilitate budget estimation and planning. By adhering to this framework, teams can minimize rework through informed decision-making and prevent unnecessary cost wastage by making early, accurate estimates.
Establish a structured framework for onboarding new services and tools into your cloud environment. Prior to deployment, conduct a comprehensive assessment or a proof of concept to understand the nuances of each service, including networking requirements, security considerations, scalability needs, integration requirements, and other relevant factors like Total Cost of Ownership and so on. By systematically evaluating these aspects, you can ensure that new services are onboarded efficiently, minimizing risks and maximizing their value to the organization. This could be a repeatable framework, providing efficiency and faster time to market.
Make business continuity and disaster recovery a top priority in your cloud strategy. Implement robust plans and processes to ensure high availability and resilience of your cloud infrastructure and applications. Utilize redundant systems, geographic replication, and failover mechanisms to minimize downtime and mitigate the impact of potential disruptions. Regularly test and update your disaster recovery plans to ensure they remain effective in addressing evolving threats and scenarios. By investing in business continuity and disaster recovery measures, you can preserve your cloud operations, prevent data loss, and maintain continuity of services in the face of unforeseen events.     
Implement a controls and policies workstream to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements, industry standards, and internal governance frameworks. This workstream should involve defining and documenting clear controls and policies related to data privacy, security, compliance, and access management. Regular reviews and updates should be conducted to align with evolving regulatory landscapes and organizational needs. By establishing robust controls and policies, you can mitigate risks, enhance data protection, and maintain compliance and governance across your cloud environment.  Some example controls could include ensuring storage is encrypted, implementing TLS for secure communication, and utilizing environment-specific SKUs, such as using smaller SKUs for lower environments.
Invest in DevOps practices by establishing pre-defined environment profiles and promoting repeatability through a DevOps catalog for provisioning and deployment. By standardizing environment configurations and workflows, teams can achieve consistency and reliability across development, testing, and production environments. Implement automated deployment pipelines that enable continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), ensuring seamless and efficient delivery of software updates. Embrace a CI/CD framework that automates build, test, and deployment processes, allowing teams to deliver value to customers faster and with higher quality. By investing in DevOps practices, you can streamline software delivery, improve collaboration between development and operations teams, and accelerate time-to-market for applications and services.
Promote cost awareness and early cost tracking by establishing or enforcing FinOps principles. Encourage a culture of cost awareness by emphasizing the importance of tracking expenses from day one. Implement robust cost-tracking measures as early as possible in your cloud journey. Utilize automated tools to monitor expenditures continuously and provide regular reports to stakeholders. By instilling a proactive approach to cost management, you can optimize spending, prevent budget overruns, and achieve greater financial efficiency in your cloud operations. Provide guidance through your cloud onboarding framework about cost-aware cloud architecture. To save costs, periodically review resource utilization and seek optimization opportunities such as right-sizing instances, consolidating environments, and leveraging pre-purchasing options like Reserved Instances. 
Regular reviews to assess the current state and future needs for continuous improvement. Establish a practice of periodic reviews to evaluate the current state of your cloud environment and anticipate future needs. Schedule regular assessments to analyze performance, security, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Engage stakeholders from across the organization to gather insights and identify areas for optimization and enhancement. By conducting these reviews systematically, you can stay agile, adapt to changing requirements, and drive continuous improvement in your cloud infrastructure and operations.

These are some considerations that may apply differently depending on the scale or size and the nature of applications or services you use or provide to customers. For personalized advice, share details about your organization’s structure and current cloud footprint in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to provide recommendations. Thank you for reading!

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