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Navigating the multi-cloud mayhem

Kevin Drinkall, EMEA wireless and cloud market development manager at Zyxel, gives MSPs his advice on successfully managing their multi-cloud environments.

For most businesses, embracing the cloud is not a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’. With a plethora of key business applications now well established in the cloud, businesses are beginning to see the benefits of the platform.

Companies are now entering an era of rapid cloud adoption, however the need to achieve greater operational efficiencies and drive ROI also mean that businesses are likely to enlist multiple providers at once.

According to a report by IDC, more than 70% of companies are operating in several cloud environments simultaneously, despite the fact that operating in multiple clouds can cause many headaches.

As the environment becomes increasingly complex, businesses grow more reliant on the expertise of managed service providers (MSPs) to manage their IT infrastructure.

As a result, the role of MSPs has become even more challenging. In the early days, multi-cloud adoption was driven by the uncertainties of cloud reliability as businesses understandably wanted to prevent data loss or downtime.

This has since evolved, however, and multi-cloud environments have become driven by the business need for various features offered by different providers, as well as the geographic location of offices and the cloud providers.

From an MSP’s perspective, this adds another layer of complexity to cloud migration and management.

Not only do they need to ensure they work as an extension of their customers’ teams to define and carry out a clear strategy of moving to the cloud, but they now also need to optimise the network architecture and keep a close eye on the total cost of ownership.

MSPs have to gain a deep knowledge of the different cloud providers and models to evaluate the environments in light of their customers’ specific business goals.

The key challenge in managing these environments is minimising cloud for cloud-sake.

Using multiple providers often means that there is an overlap when it comes to offerings, duplicating tasks and the time needed to manage multiple providers.

To utilise the full capabilities of a multi-cloud environment, MSPs must put in place tools to enable an easy and effective movement of workloads across the clouds.

As the services and software evolve, MSPs will need to keep one step ahead where possible. This will involve learning new skills and ensuring that existing processes and workflows still apply to their customers’ new working environments.

Management and integration will likely continue to be one of the toughest issues with multi-cloud environments, meaning MSPs must not take their eye off the ball. They need to work with end customers to continually review and assess the current state of play.

Helping customers leverage multi-cloud architecture will involve a great deal of education on what a multi-cloud is, what it does, and how it will impact their current IT infrastructure.

In this sense, it can be all too easy to forget about the network that keeps the business ship afloat.

Acting as the cornerstone on which all modern businesses now operate, the network mustn’t become the weakest link in the whole set-up.

MSPs themselves can reap the benefits by implementing networks optimised for cloud-based management. This network configuration is beneficial for end-users and MSPs alike.

It enables businesses to shift their attention to boosting productivity and driving revenue by giving them greater confidence in their network and its capabilities to handle multi-cloud operations.

MSPs, on the other hand, gain real-time, remote access to reporting and monitoring that helps them mitigate network vulnerabilities.

The comprehensive overview of the network that comes with centralised cloud-based management helps to identify scaling and innovation opportunities that can bring further value to customers.

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