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Multicloud: Reaping the reward

Image: Adobe Stock / Ar_TH

Michael Cantor, CIO at Park Place Technologies, explores the advantages of multicloud, as well as how to overcome migration hurdles.

There are many reasons why a business may look to change its IT infrastructure. A key driver in recent years has been economic pressure, but there are other factors that may send organisations on their migration journeys, from the need to scale and innovate, to responding to regulatory changes.

Those embarking on this journey face a double-edged sword of cloud choice: hybrid, public or multi?

According to recent data, 87% of businesses already have some form of multicloud strategy, indicating it may soon accelerate beyond hybrid infrastructure as the default. While hybrid and being all-in on one public cloud are still popular options, cost, flexibility, scalability and the ability to combine the different strengths of public cloud providers are leading many companies to pursue multicloud.

However, moving to a multicloud environment from a single cloud provider can be difficult to achieve for several reasons, including the stickiness of cloud, complexities around managing different security policies, and compliance needs. So, what are the benefits driving adoption of multicloud, and how do businesses overcome the migration hurdles?

Why multicloud?

Cost optimisation is a key driver for multicloud adoption over hybrid or public cloud for 40% of organisations, but this is only part of the story.

A multicloud approach can create a robust and flexible infrastructure, useful for protecting sensitive, business critical applications that require increased security or intensive processing capabilities, such as confidential transaction data in financial services.

Each hyperscaler provides enhanced expertise in different areas, such as scalability, machine learning and digitalisation. By leveraging the strengths of different cloud providers, organisations can experience benefits such as improved flexibility, reduced vendor lock-in, enhanced redundancy, and better performance optimisation. By choosing a combination that works to support business objectives, leaders can make the most of their investment.

By taking the time to choose vendors that match the business needs, as well as considering how clouds will all interlock with each other, businesses can make the most of their infrastructure and lessen the challenges normally associated with migration. This includes considering the lack of standardisation between vendors meaning metrics, restrictions and availability will not always be the same.

Bringing stakeholders on the multicloud journey

As with any organisational change, the people at the heart of the transition are the key to success: multicloud champions. One of the biggest hurdles when transitioning to multicloud is the management challenges and overheads, which was cited by 34% of businesses. To combat this, detailed planning is the critical first step before workloads are split, or infrastructures re-allocated. Multicloud champions need to be able to address many complex areas; the most important being data across clouds. This is primarily data repatriation: the management and movement of data between different cloud providers.

Solutions exist to help with exactly that, with most automating and managing differing cloud resources; from infrastructure as a code tools (IAC), to Cloud Management Platforms (CMPs), to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions. Each platform has its own merits, and it is important that before organisations start whiteboarding their future cloud strategies, they get the support of specialist help from cloud migration partners to match to, and plan for, the most suited methodologies.

Another consideration to address is the consistency of organisational processes for data compliance, replication, synchronisation, and backups, given that each cloud provider offers their own protocols and security features. Deciding on optimal connectivity across multiclouds is critical. Given the potential complexities, multicloud users often seek a holistic single-platform management approach that provides a single window into the whole multicloud infrastructure. It also flags data governance, performance, compliance, and connectivity issues.

Remaining user-centric is also critical to multicloud success. It must work for the people using it, not the other way around. Looking at how users are accessing specific services and for what reasons, as well as their pain points, can help identify when multiple providers are performing the same function, eliminating redundancies.

Breaking the ‘stickiness’ of moving cloud providers down the line

A multicloud environment means managing different vendors. The communication and relationship with these companies therefore needs to be handled effectively. Organisations looking to migrate may experience a bit of resistance when trying to move from vendor to vendor, with some feeling cloud providers make their clouds ‘sticky’, making it difficult for customers to exit contracts and move to a multicloud environment.

Avoiding vendor lock-in and keeping control is a key motivator for multicloud adoption, yet few organisations realise that the reality of subsequently moving cloud providers down the line can be hard to achieve as clouds can be stickier than initially described and perceived. Prioritising a holistic management approach that considers all the moving parts, and how it impacts business operations from the outset can alleviate these risks.

By collaborating with specialist independent partners familiar with the large cloud providers and their likely sticking points, businesses can overcome the issues that can arise when becoming ‘stuck’ with one provider. These partners can also provide insights into how to get the most from one hyperscaler such as using more open and generic services rather than keeping specific applications confined to one provider.

Businesses being faced with the current economic pressures are making decisions based on cost optimisation and efficiency. However, a move to multicloud must be thoroughly considered to ensure it matches the organisation’s objectives and can support business goals, as it might not be the right move for all businesses. Those who do approach the multicloud journey must keep business priorities in mind to be in the best place to reap all the benefits that a multicloud approach can bring.

Michael Cantor
Michael Cantor
CIO at Park Place Technologies

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