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What’s Behind a Successful Multi-Cloud Strategy?

Most experienced enterprise IT managers readily attest to the fact that infrastructure comes in many form factors and flavors. They would also hasten to add that these diverse varieties tend to coexist despite innumerable strategic reviews, consolidation, and streamlining exercises that they ambitiously involve their organizations in. As organizations evolve over time, they tend to leave a hint of their footprint in the form of self-managed and hosted captive data centers (DC), offsite DCs for DR and other reasons, and public clouds due to pressure from different business organizations eager to leverage the specific technologies and tools on offer. At the same time, they attempt to get their arms around many SaaS applications springing up in many areas of the organization. Most IT managers, who have seen this happen in their organizations, view diverse infrastructure as not a choice but the result of a series of choices that were right at the time they were made!

Top 10 Approaches to Ensure a Successful Strategy

Multi-cloud environments tend to have, by their very nature, a fragmented set of ‘central’ management tools to provision and orchestrate different pieces of the specific cloud environment. However, managing a diverse, multi-cloud environment does not need to be complex and unwieldy. It does not need to sap IT bandwidth, make skill and operational management complex, and turn application portability into an intricate exercise. It can be designed to deliver the required business results with ease.

During our long and productive engagements with many customers over the years, we have found 10 essential approaches that always work. Any organization should consider these to make its hybrid, multi-cloud environment consistently deliver.

#1 Business goals should be the precursors of a successful multi-cloud strategy. It is critical to directly link the organization’s strategy to business goals. It is essential that specific efficiency or cost-saving or revenue goal is firmly behind the choice of the strategy or the selection of individual partners. Affinity to a particular technology alone should not be the main focus. Gartner recommends a business-driven decision framework to be coordinated with best-practice IT Operational models as a way to exploit cloud successfully.

#2 Specific external cloud and software partners should be chosen based on vectors that matter to the business organization and should be nurtured to grow into effective partnerships:

  • Existing and proposed partnerships with major software and cloud vendors
  • Availability of transparent and user-friendly management tools with exceptional graphical interfaces

#3 Various tools need to be seamlessly and intelligently integrated across data, infrastructure, applications and business processes beyond connecting them at the code level.

#4 Technologies offered by the cloud partners need to enable workload migration to a wide variety of environments. They should make it easy to transport workloads wherever they are appropriate to run. They also need to facilitate transparent portability tools, containers, and micro-services to make workload migration easier to realize.

#5 Security is a key component of a successful and effective multi-cloud strategy. Security abstraction should allow it to be defined as a central policy which can travel along with the workload before instantiating itself in an appropriate format in the destination environment.

#6 A single central management dashboard is a prerequisite to keep close watch on the intricate multi-cloud environment at work.

#7 Ease of rapid setup with easy plug-and-play in multiple alternative cloud environments needs to be ensured to preempt potential chaos in IT operations and conflicts between business and IT in terms of IT’s ability to quickly make the switch among the environments.

#8 The highest risk mitigation with instant backup and recovery can be achieved when business needs are balanced with technology priorities in collaboration with corporate risk organization.

#9 Aggregated billing across partners should be the norm to ease administrative burden apart from making centralized provisioning and orchestration smoother through appropriate tools.

#10 Organization culture needs to be cultivated to promote trust and transparency among the various pockets of the organization, develop and consolidate skills so that human roadblocks don’t hamper the successful execution of a well-crafted multi-cloud strategy.

When the multi-cloud strategy is chosen for specific business reasons and the individual external cloud partners are identified by a delicate balance of the top 10 mature approaches outlined above, several benefits naturally follow. The strategy will start to foster an agile development model that not only mitigates risk but also produces cost-savings upwards of 60-65% compared to the standard fare.

Success is not an Accident

When you pare it down to bare essentials, it is imperative that a hybrid multi-cloud environment is adopted only if it is absolutely needed for the business. However, it is easy to get carried away by vendor rhetoric regarding portability, compatibility or management. Hence, it is critical that a multi-cloud strategy is backed by unbiased programmable tools to provision, orchestrate through a single pane of glass. On the other hand, one should be cautioned not to fall into the trap of signing up with all the top vendors just to avoid vendor lock-in.

Flexibility and agility of even the remotest parts of the environment and compatibility, and portability among them are the foundations of any enterprise infrastructure. When fully enabled, this strategic investment and the best-of-breed multi-cloud approach can let you enjoy considerable cost savings.

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