At least half of organizations are accelerating their cloud plans amid COVID-19 in order to move to remote work, according to a recent State of the Cloud report from Flexera.
With organizations now spending record amounts on their cloud programs there may be truth in this finding. However, the adoption of a multicloud approach for many companies has been inevitable and began prior to the pandemic.
The backend systems of companies require more distribution and accessibility for their data in addition to the need for scalability as more employees are using services in the cloud.
This ranges from simple tasks like inputting timesheets from a laptop or a mobile device to more advanced needs such as hosting classified documents. Due to this pressing need for agility amidst disruption, IDC predicts that 2021 will be the "year of multicloud."
If your organization is not multicloud now, it will be soon. Organizations are adopting the infrastructure configuration simply to avoid vendor lock-in or to have more options in cloud native services such as analytics and AI. It can also improve storage features, offer varied security measures or employ containers and Kubernetes for active/passive backup for workloads.
There is an endless range of cloud-based platform offerings — IaaS, PaaS, SaaS — available, and even experienced IT departments find it challenging to manage multiple cloud environments.
With many enterprises facing the real risk of cloud sprawl, there are ways to ensure that the year of multicloud is a controlled, mission-driven journey for your organization.
The best way to gain control over a multicloud environment
In good news, it has become extremely easy to stand up application workloads in the cloud. It is not uncommon for an organization to quickly deploy an application to the cloud and then find out their cloud service provider (CSP) does not cover all of their original needs.
Innovation is evolving at a rapid pace and cloud services will continue to advance lending some to be better suited for different use cases. This common experience can lead to a cycle of unplanned expansion into multiple cloud environments.
In the future, organizations may not recall why or how they ended up with certain platforms or if anyone is currently accountable for them.
A key way to gain control over a multicloud environment is to take the time upfront to understand the need for different services across the enterprise and implement mechanisms to guide a strategic and holistic move into a multicloud environment.
Ensuring cloud native apps are designed in a modular and open manner, with standard and simple functionalities, is a good place to start to ensure a seamless experience that allows the integration of new and future services into the design.
Taking this time — before making an investment decision — to map out mission drivers and assess the general needs of the enterprise will help control how an organization can successfully exploit the benefits of operating in a multicloud environment.
5 ways to manage multicloud environments
As more cloud platforms make their way into these enterprises, organizations need to closely manage the various environments so they can each operate toward a shared mission. Here are five ways to make a multicloud environment more effective:
Establish governance: Multicloud governance should address topics such as who has authority to spin up environments; how are candidate providers vetted and integrated into the existing environment; how are changes made to the enterprise architecture and design; and how will cloud infrastructure costs be managed across the enterprise (e.g., capacity management, cost optimization, cost transparency and accountability). Organizations need to consider whether to implement centralized or federated governance.
Create an extensible infrastructure: Extensible infrastructures allow an organization to more easily integrate newer capabilities into an environment — in the same or across cloud provider platforms. It's important to architect and design environments to be open, by deploying microservices and application programming interfaces (APIs) to support innovation, scale, and to avoid lock-in with any one CSP.
Make infrastructure as code (IaC) and templating a standard practice: The use of IaC and provisioning templates across cloud environments reduces the potential for human error during deployment and configuration and allows an organization to establish repeatable blueprints for provisioning, deploying, and securing resources in a multicloud environment. The use of IaC and templates can help accelerate environment deployments and implement automated cloud security controls across cloud environments.
Define and implement a robust DataOps process: The subject of data is often overlooked when talking about multicloud. However, it is a very critical and complex piece that needs to be considered and planned for. Having a clear DataOps strategy and implementation plan will enable better management and security ensuring the ability to better leverage data services in a multicloud environment.
Identify workforce and culture needs: Recognize that an organization's practices, talent and processes may not be ready to embrace cloud-native development with a single CSP, much less optimize operations in a multicloud environment. Evaluating workforce and cultural needs will help organizations identify areas where they can evolve to better prepare to take advantage of the benefits that come with operating in multicloud environments.
Organizations should start off simple and then build up to more advanced multicloud deployment designs. It takes time for an organization to mature its processes, talent and tools on the multicloud journey.
Most, if not all, organizations will leverage more than one cloud provider or service in the future making successful multicloud management a necessity for getting the most out of your cloud program.
With remote work continuing to become the norm and most likely here to stay in the current climate the need for SaaS and scalability of back end applications and services will drive companies to explore CSPs that can best support their evolving needs.
A multicloud approach provides companies and agencies with the capabilities they need to get work done from anywhere in a much more cost-effective manner leading to more options and innovation in the future.