Almost all (96%) of the nearly 1,000 IT professionals participating in RightScale’s Cloud Computing Trends: 2018 State of the Cloud Survey use at least one public or private cloud—and on average, organizations leverage almost 5 clouds to manage their various data, processes, workflows, and other computing needs. This means a company might have a cloud-based ERP system to manage back-office operations as well as cloud-based CRM, ecommerce, and marketing automation software for front-office activities.

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re at least considering a cloud computing strategy. You’ve probably already moved a business function or two to the cloud. But you might be wondering how long it will take your company to get up and running with a comprehensive cloud computing strategy? Maybe the better question is, when will you start realizing its benefits?

As Long As It Takes

The answers to both questions come down to your strategy: if you’ve prioritized innovation and are willing to put resources into building a cloud environment, you’ll experience benefits straightaway, even if it takes few weeks, months, or years to migrate to the cloud—and even if you don’t end up moving all of your data and processes out of legacy systems.

Arguably, IT transformation is constant. Technology continually evolves, and your business undergoes intermittent growing pains and changes, often spurred along by employee, vendor, and customer expectations. In today’s competitive business markets, a cloud-based IT environment is uniquely qualified to change with you—and actually drive growth. So does it matter “how long it takes?” Maybe not, as long as you’re seeing results that correspond with your strategic goals.

Find out What Your Competitors Don’t Want You To Know About Cloud Computing.

From Cloud-First to Cloud-Only, Fast

An article in Forbes examines enterprises with cloud-first policies, which means they look at cloud-based hardware and software solutions before traditional, on-premise ones. The article cites an Intel survey finding that at least 80% of enterprises are now following such a strategy and anticipate running “just about everything” in the cloud within a year.

Indeed, this is an aggressive goal, and the article notes that some companies end up needing more than a year to reach the “all cloud” status. The important point, though, is there is a strategy driving their progress. Without a strategy, you won’t know if moving to the cloud is really getting you anywhere, whether your goal is “all cloud” or “some cloud.”

Taking Your Time

Companies taking a cloud-first approach are on the fast track because it makes sense for them to go “all in” with cloud computing. But that might not be the case for your business. Your strategy will probably take over 12 months to unfold.

Keep in mind that adopting cloud computing as an operating model isn’t usually a “one and done” deal. Unless your company size is small or you’re part of a growing startup, it’s likely you’re deploying a cloud strategy in phases, as your needs evolve and as your team is able to support the transformation.

In fact, Accenture’s Six Steps to Cloud Migration Success advises rolling out cloud services this way. They say, “Move one area of the business over, make sure the new technology is stable and effective, and prove that both IT users and people in other parts of the business have absorbed the new application and support processes. Then, make your next move.”

The length of time it takes for your company to achieve results in the cloud is dependent on so many factors, even if you adopt a cloud-first approach.

Charting Your Unique Journey to the Cloud

Every organization starts their journey to the cloud from a different place. Some companies are cloud natives: they start in the cloud, implementing cloud-based business systems and processes from the get-go. On the other end of the spectrum, some companies have always housed their programs and applications on-premise, and need to pick-and-choose which apps and workloads they’ll move over to the cloud first.

Any discussion about cloud computing—specifically, those related to timelines and resources required to transition—have to start with asking important questions to guide the process: What are your goals? How is your existing system limiting your business? What will the cloud enable you to do better (cheaper, faster, etc.)? Explore more key questions in How Strategy Can Ensure a Secure and Efficient Move to the Cloud.

It’s from this place of exploration that the journey begins and the “how long will this really take” question can be reasonably answered, especially when you’re working with a technology partner who can help you assess where you are today and recommend how to get where you want to go. Contact us if you’re ready to start your journey.

For more about adopting a cloud computing model, don’t miss:

The Top 5 Questions Asked by Executives before Moving Into the Cloud

3 Steps to Calm Your Fears About Moving Your Data to the Cloud

6 Signs It’s Time To Migrate Your Legacy IT Environment to the Cloud, Part 1 and Part 2