When a company runs a hybrid cloud, and sets its sights on integrating a new cloud provider, it can complicate an an already convoluted tech environment.
The growing entanglements of cloud environments is a real problem for companies, especially in a remote world. Vendors acting as the connective tissue between cloud environments sell themselves on the simplicity and ease of use. But businesses will have to look internally at cloud strategy to decide what's best for them.
Ninety-two percent of enterprises have a multicloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid strategy, according to Flexera's 2021 State of the Cloud report. Managing those environments can be bumpy and less than half (42%) of enterprises use a mutlicloud management tools.
As some businesses approach cloud migrations, providers have been forced to meet customers where they're at "versus being overly aspirational about where they want to go," Drew Firment, SVP of cloud transformation at A Cloud Guru said.
VMware and other software management companies allow organizations to gain footholds into the cloud and reduce some of the burden of managing a complex cloud environment. It's a great strategy to move from on-premise to the cloud, and then once the organization is there they can start to think about digging deeper into specific vendor architectures, Firment said.
"You're not going to really get the pure value out of cloud computing when you're still on prem and you have a layer of abstraction, but it's a start," Firment said. The platforms can help manage cost optimization, compliance, controls and other aspects of cloud management.
Vendors pitch multicloud offerings
As the enterprise moves toward multicloud, vendors are rolling out services to support the integrations.
Cloud service providers gain an edge over their competitors by offering services and integrations they can provide alongside on-premise environments, according to Brian Adler, senior director, cloud market strategy at Flexera, in an email to CIO Dive.
All services may be based on the same software stack designed to integrate with existing environments, but vendors can offer pricing, packaging, management responsibility and regional availability differentiators.
"The new reality is that [vendors] need to be able and willing to play in this hybrid world," Adler said. "We find that the companies that manage hybrid and multicloud the best are those who have complete visibility into their IT estate across on premise, cloud and SaaS."
Being the best at a specific thing in a specific place is no longer an option in the current landscae, according to Adler. Cloud vendors understand that, businesses likely won't settle for a single provider. Vendors have to support customers on whatever journey they choose.
Google, for example, acknowledges that it would be great if every business only wanted their cloud solution, but "we have for some time now been embracing what we're calling the hybrid cloud," Lori Mitchell-Keller, global leader of industry solutions at Google Cloud, told CIO Dive in February.
Customers will use multiple cloud providers, so Google Cloud sells itself beyond just the infrastructure it provides. The company promotes "the full power of Google" as a business solution, not just an infrastructure relationship with IT, Mitchell-Keller said.
Integration, a must
More vendors are catching on to the value of interoperability while trying to maintain a competitive edge by responding to customer needs.
"Oftentimes this competitive edge is based on the vendor striving to provide a known quantity in a new environment, and thus preventing customer churn as these customers expand their IT estates into the public cloud," Adler said.
For businesses, navigating new technology and offerings to manage the hybrid cloud environment means taking a close look at company needs and strategy before deciding what to buy.
"You got to get good at one cloud, and understand how to operate in this new world, then you can make informed decisions about how to align the cloud providers to the strengths tied to the form and function of your application," Firment said.
As the customer, the business has to get up to speed on the offering to make the best cloud decisions for itself. "There's a lot of different interests out there so you really have to take the time to get educated on it so you're making the right decisions," Firment said.
Businesses are responsible for knowing what environments each vendor supports and how it aligns with their future cloud plans, according to Adler.
"Finding a tool or a vendor that supports the environments you are operating in, or are intending to, is important," Adler said. "But understanding the functional gaps in that support are just as critical."