There’s no doubt that we now live in a “multi-cloud” world. But what exactly does that mean for enterprises just starting their cloud journey? What do they need to know about how to manage multi-cloud? What should organizations expect as their competition begins to adopt a multi-cloud strategy?
And most importantly, how does an organization go about formulating a coherent multi-cloud strategy to being with?
We Live in a Multi-Cloud World
According to Forrester, about 62% of public cloud adopters are using two or more unique cloud platforms, and 74% of enterprises overall described their cloud strategy as “hybrid/multi-cloud.” Further research by Flexera found that the mean average number of cloud platforms used by enterprises was four…meaning that more than half were using a mix of four or more public and private clouds.
Why multi-cloud? Or specifically, why is multi-cloud adoption so widespread? Reliability and stability are definitely factors. But so is the ability to gather intelligence and perform analysis. Organizations want their analytical insights to be more efficient, in terms of accuracy, cost, and timeliness. This means that larger businesses are hedging their bets and trying a number of different platforms. The cloud platform(s) that figures out how to deliver the best intelligence gets a bigger share of IT budgets.
So what does this mean for organizations just starting out on their cloud journey? For one thing, it means IT departments should reasonably expect that, if their organizations are not using multi-clouds now, they will be soon. This will add a layer of complexity to the overall management of the cloud environment.
It also means more complexity for the finance department, as different cloud vendors have different cost structures. Different utilization across different clouds will make better financial sense, but this equation will change over time as cloud deployment scales with use.
That complexity should not deter multi-cloud adoption, however. Companies that adopted multi-cloud strategies early are already realizing a faster speed to market for many of their products and services, using multiple clouds to quickly scale resources for DevOps testing and deployment, workload bursting, and storage. Some organizations are also taking advantage of different clouds in different regions to reduce latency, allowing them to implement changes and make updates more quickly.
But this also means that, in many industries, the competition is already putting a multi-cloud strategy into place. Organizations can reasonably expect to see shorter development testing and deployment cycles, faster innovation, and more effective use of IT dollars, especially in leaner economic times.
How to Manage a Multi-Cloud Environment: Best Practices
So how can organizations deal with the reality of a multi-cloud world? It’s clear that the competition will continue to drive the need for speed and efficiency in many markets. While organizations need to jump into the fray, they need to do so with planning and strategy—not to mention the right tools.
Start with a multi-cloud strategy. Many organizations stumble into multi-cloud because different departments or silos each sought out their own cloud solutions for specific needs. Whether or not your organization made a conscious decision to go multi-cloud, or ended up with multi-cloud by accident, you can and should form a strategy that outlines goals and KPIs for multi-cloud performance, as well as a plan for managing cloud infrastructure.
Spend a significant amount of time choosing the right cloud providers. There are many good cloud providers out there, but they are all different, and so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Choosing providers that do not have the tools or resources you need can cause unnecessary delays, bloat your infrastructure, and introduce higher costs and error. You should also explore the compatibility and interoperability of your cloud environments so that you can ensure everything runs smoothly, even as services scale and shift.
Take control of governance. With multiple cloud deployments, you will want to have centralized control for governing cloud usage. Depending on your organization’s needs, you might have to monitor compliance against any number of frameworks and regulations (including HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, NIST, ISO 27001, and more).
Think through automation needs and policies. Costs can get out of hand if, for example, you spin up a number of instances across multiple clouds with no plan to detect and spin down when not in use. Think about what your automation policies should be with regard to usage, disaster recovery, load balancing, and so on.
Measure and control the impact of network performance on business outcomes. Having KPIs is only the first step: An organization must gather the relevant data and show the ways in which performance affects the overall business. For example:
Choose a multi-cloud management tool. Doing all of the above from a single pane of glass requires powerful tools. These kinds of considerations went into our own tool, the TRiA™ Multi-Cloud Management Platform. TRiA gives IT departments and Managed Service Providers better control over their multi-cloud environment, allowing them to:
- Access 24/7 performance monitoring across cloud environments, with visibility into all resources
- Identify unusual changes of behavior
- Manage budget with consolidated views of account and regional spend
- Identify and address utilization issues
- Predict future spending
- Track compliance objectives and identify compliance issues across cloud environments
- Ensure ongoing compliance with active policy enforcement
Ready to Find Out More About Multi-Cloud for Your Organization?
For the basics of multi-cloud as a tool for enterprise organizations, see our article “A Multi-Cloud Environment is a Great Idea—If You Have the Right Tool to Manage It.”
For an example of the benefits and challenges of using two popular cloud platforms together, read “Is It a Bad Idea to Combine AWS and Azure Together?”
To learn more about TRiA, or to request a demo, see our TRiA product page.
If/when you publish the 2019 trends piece, this would be a good place to link to it.