In 2022, it is difficult to imagine any company’s everyday routine without cloud computing. But if a decade ago one cloud was usually enough for doing business, today things have changed. Currently, 92 percent of enterprises use two or more for data storage and processing, disaster recovery, and running daily operations. Why?
The popularity of multicloud strategies is often based on:
- Striving to use the best solutions
- Security concerns and an unwillingness to “put all eggs in one basket”
- Systems with joint cloud architecture
- Better operational control and compliance
Since relying on a single cloud turns out to be no longer reasonable, the main question now is, “How do you develop and implement your multicloud strategy?” Let us investigate the subject deeper.
What is multicloud strategy?
A cloud is an aggregate of servers owned by a provider who lets companies rent them for data storage, computing, and other purposes. When migrating from on-premise data centers to the cloud for the first time, companies often use a single vendor’s solution for multiple purposes. However, we don’t recommend following this approach, as it can cause several problems.
On the other hand, with a multicloud strategy you intentionally distribute your workloads among multiple cloud solutions, often belonging to different vendors. Your choice here can be based on pricing, servers’ geographical location, alignment with your business goals, and other factors. Here are some potential multicloud use cases:
- Cooperating with several providers of “as-a-service” solutions (software, infrastructure, and platforms) for flexibility and scalability
- Using local cloud solutions depending on the country where a company operates to avoid latency problems
- Distributing analytics, communication, development, testing, and other business aspects among different clouds to focus on core tasks and manage workloads easier
- Developing applications with components deployed on several clouds for extra resiliency
Migrating to a multicloud environment can seem like a solution to many problems, but it can also cause more harm than good if done incorrectly. Implementing a multicloud strategy requires precise management and attention to licensing, governance, compliance, and other related issues. However, if you manage to do everything right, you will gain some indisputable benefits:
- Reduced “shadow IT.” When a company signs up for a wider range of cloud services, the chances of its employees using cloud services without your IT department’s permission decreases.
- Autonomy from vendors. As a single-cloud user, you have little choice but to comply when your provider changes its pricing policies, SLAs, and whatnot. Instead, a multicloud strategy gives you freedom of choice.
- Flexibility. You can select solutions that are not just provided by the vendor, but that align with your business goals on pricing, performance, and other essential criteria.
- Enhanced risk-management and security. Outages, cyberattacks, and downtime can cause much damage to any business; however, only if data and operations are allocated in a single cloud.
- Lower IT infrastructure expenses and overall cost efficiency. Avoiding the need to establish and maintain your hardware and software infrastructure can cut your costs dramatically.
The trick here is that you cannot just distribute your assets across several clouds and expect good results. Multicloud strategies require careful planning and orchestration. Let’s look at some ideas on how to approach this process.
How to start implementing a multicloud strategy
For many companies, moving different business aspects to the clouds occurs naturally. Often, they piece together various public cloud services based on their immediate needs. This sporadic approach can lead to cloud sprawl, data flow interruption, poor performance, excessive expenses, and other problems.
To avoid these unnecessary problems, it is crucial to plan accordingly from the beginning. There is no single proper way to do it, but there are steps essential in helping you design an effective multicloud strategy.
“Going multicloud” is a general direction, not a viable goal on its own. For better understanding of the task at hand, we recommend you to:
- Define specific goals. For example, you want to expand your business and operate in foreign markets without worrying about high latency. Or you want to end a disadvantageous partnership with a vendor. Whatever it is, setting specific goals is essential for developing a relevant and applicable multicloud strategy.
- Set rough deadlines and budget. More accurate estimates will become possible as you continue elaborating on your strategy. At this point, you just need initial high-level milestones.
Doing this, you will create a starting point for yourself to move on from.
Is it really expedient for you to move everything you have to new cloud environments? Here are some questions to ask yourself in this regard:
- Purpose. What is an application or service for? What function does it perform? What value does it provide?
- Performance. What existing apps operate better on-premises? What solutions would perform better in the cloud?
- Technical specification. What features do your apps and services comprise? What are the technical specifications for running them?
- Security requirements. Do you want to keep all the security-related tasks in-house or delegate some of them to a provider? What security measures are you going to establish? What are the policies under which your company is going to use cloud solutions?
Check and document every cloud deployment in operation.
The next essential step is to analyze how your organization is using current cloud solutions. We advise you to:
- Double-check the efficiency of your cloud services. Many companies tend to have business operations chaotically distributed across several clouds with no specific logic. This can cause some clouds to be underutilized while others are overloaded. Consolidate and optimize your solutions in use and consider eliminating idle clouds.
- Determine what cloud services would suit your apps and services best by running them in different environments and using benchmarking tools. Platforms like Microsoft Azure have them built in.
Establishing a center of excellence (CoE) to initiate and manage the implementation of your multicloud strategy can alleviate the task significantly. Such CoEs usually include specialists from finance, compliance, security, development, DevOps, and other departments. They can help you:
- Establish effective governance techniques
- Ensure proper cost calculation and management
- Define multicloud environment configuration/architecture
- Set security and regulatory policies, and more
The selection of appropriate vendors
Specific goals and a fuller picture of your assets and solutions in use can give you a better understanding of what you want from cloud vendors. During the planning stage, consider the following factors:
- Security model
- Compliance with your industry specific standards
- Pricing policy
- Location of data centers
- Cloud uptime
- Customer service and support
There are several cloud service providers that gained the most popularity among enterprises globally in 2021. Currently, the top 3 players on the market are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google.
The use of a cloud management platform (CMP)
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a convenient model that may have an unobvious drawback: your infrastructure will become so massive and heterogenous that managing it becomes problematic. Here is when CMP comes in. Essentially, it is your ultimate control center for organizing and managing your cloud environments, tools, assets, and infrastructures. A CMP can help you with governance, cost and performance optimization, lifecycle management, and more.
At some point, you might find yourself struggling with:
- Moving your apps to the cloud
- Building cloud-based apps from scratch
- Transitioning the entire IT infrastructure to the cloud, and more
The good news is that there are many companies offering consultation and guidance services on multicloud migration and developing a viable multi-cloud strategy. Having been in the market for over 30 years, we know how to harness the full potential of popular cloud solutions. Be it Microsoft Azure, AWS Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, or any other service you need assistance with, feel free to contact us for a free consultation today.
Due to the increasing volumes and complexity of data and business processes, we believe that implementing a multicloud strategy is the best option for companies willing to maintain a competitive edge in 2022. And we can hardly ignore the fact of the increasingly remote world that forces us to change and adapt. Though the transition requires some spadework, it is still well worth the effort. Such an approach will make you more vendor-autonomous and agile, while decreasing your security and financial risks.