From hybrid cloud strategy to a multi-cloud environment — managing in a new era
One size does not fit all. As enterprise customers rearchitect their infrastructure environments, myriad platform choices lead to a bi-modal environment that offers exactly what it’s supposed to - efficiency, flexibility and innovation. But with this increase in options comes the potential for negative consequences; reduced visibility, less functionality and a multitude of never-before experienced management difficulties.
Hybrid cloud has become the default choice of large enterprises, however the definition of hybrid cloud has changed. Not only are more enterprise IT departments embracing private-public could strategies, they also need to ensure their public cloud choices are fit-for-purpose as public could companies increase their portfolio offerings. The industry refers to this as a multi-cloud strategy but I see it as an extension of that hybrid-cloud strategy, and truly just proper vendor alignment. Not all public clouds meet the specific needs of an application, as different players have distinct strengths and weaknesses. This requires a fit-for-purpose decision that needs to be made on the front end of an overall transformation strategy.
Keys to cloud success
There are several key success drivers to implementing a hybrid-cloud/multi-cloud strategy, whatever name you choose to adopt. Provider selection is the most critical, as it allows you to ensure you are maximizing a vendor’s strengths and avoiding the pitfalls associated with their known weaknesses. It also allows for a reduction in vendor lock-in; playing well into a long-term strategy that can be modified with ease as business needs change. Pricing disparity is also a major challenge for a multi-cloud strategy and needs to be managed accordingly to ensure cloud-creep doesn’t unexpectedly increase IT expenses.
Once vendors have been selected, the deployment and delivery of those services can present a resource challenge if not addressed in the planning phases. Training requirements are unique and sometimes arduous, depending on the vendor, and staffing for each workload shift needs to be meticulously planned. Each cloud platform will need a dedicated team of experts to ensure proper implementation. As a result, many larger corporations are investing in multi-cloud Centers of Excellence (COEs) as hubs of expertise that can be drawn on as needs arise.
While terminology may be interchangeable, hybrid or multi-cloud, both offer organizations an opportunity to provide flexible and efficient business processes that can significantly improve a business’s operational model. Gartner predicts that more than half of global enterprises that have ventured into cloud today will adopt an all-in cloud strategy by 2021. With this increased ecosystem of options, vendors and platforms, it’s imperative to have a solid strategic vision that encompasses a clear understanding of the pros and cons of each. With the increased intricacy of a new era of architecture, management capability that matches the complexity will be needed to ensure proper long-term strategy for growth and flexibility to adjust.