How to succeed as a multi-cloud juggler

How to succeed as a multi-cloud juggler

Digital Transformation initiatives have placed an increased pressure on the cloud as more businesses rely upon its use for optimum performance. Matt Nash, Cloud Manager, Pulsant, discusses why IT decision-makers can often feel like failed cloud jugglers when the business starts asking questions about why costs are rising without any comparable increase in performance or capability.

Deploying data and workloads with multiple cloud vendors has become normal practice for many businesses. The Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, found that 89% of organisations globally now work on a multi-cloud strategy.

Strategy, however, is a loaded term. Many organisations that spread into multi-cloud environments without a defined strategy now find they are struggling to control, optimise or provide the full business benefits from uncoordinated architecture.

Exactly how many clouds organisations use will vary, partly according to definitions. In the Cisco Global Hybrid Cloud Trends report, 47% of respondents employ between two and three public IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) clouds. The evidence from this report is that organisations follow the multi-cloud path because they need to balance security with business agility.

A multi-cloud approach has many advantages. It gives organisations the flexibility to access vendor-specific capabilities they would otherwise struggle to obtain, which is important for SMEs with small IT departments. They may host their web applications on AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Exchange servers on Azure. Organisations with a best-of-breed approach to IT also see that multi-cloud helps them avoid vendor lock-in. A business enjoys a wide choice over where to locate data and how it wants to access it, whether for compliance, latency, or cost reasons.

Multi-cloud management can end up being a juggling act

The difficulty is that as multi-cloud architectures expand, they become problematic to optimise and they fail to support business requirements.

As cloud environments grow, IT departments quickly lose sight of where their data and workloads are, stacking up costs that are difficult to quantify because of complicated fee structures. In many organisations lack of adequate governance allows developers to spin up, test and develop VMs (Virtual Machine) in the cloud which they then overlook while the bills continue to roll in. In the Thales 2021 Data Threat Report, only 24% of organisations responding said they fully knew where their data is stored.

Poor cloud management means agility, flexibility and the ability to innovate and use new applications are declining for many organisations. IT departments find them difficult to orchestrate. Optimisation has therefore become critical, with organisations estimating they waste 32% of cloud expenditure, according to Flexera’s research.

With so many challenges coming from all directions, IT decision-makers can feel like failed jugglers when the business starts asking questions about why costs are rising without any comparable increase in performance or capability.

Poor tooling and scarce skills

IT leaders need innovative approaches so they can regain control. Overall loss of visibility often arises from the need to use several cloud tools, each specific to a vendor or deployment. This fractured view leaves IT departments unaware of the resources they use across their infrastructure.

In many organisations, it is now common for nobody to be confident about which cloud service is best for specific workloads and the additional costs they may rack up if they expand. Nobody is certain that if the business reaches the limits of resource capacity in one cloud, it has the architecture to auto-scale to meet those extra needs. These are critical pieces of insight. Having workloads in the most suitable environment is a definite requirement to optimise performance and cost. So too is the ability to expand cost-effectively.

Infrastructure sprawl, as organisations add capacity without a true strategy, increases security vulnerabilities and drops unexpected bills into IT inboxes, especially when it comes to the costs of data egress from the major cloud providers. It can also compromise confidence in an organisation’s ability to meet data sovereignty requirements. Lack of expertise is a particular problem for SMEs. In the 2022 Flexera report, 78% of SMEs said this was one of their top challenges. Unsurprisingly, given all the challenges, Flexera also found that among all organisations, optimisation of existing cloud use is currently the most common cloud initiative, selected by 59% of respondents.

Next-generation tools restore control

We can see that organisations now very much need to know if their cloud infrastructure is architected correctly, working efficiently and how they can manage and improve it without employing yet more hard-to-find and costly IT talent. The simplest and most effective way is to side-step the multiplicity of specific tools that sometimes accompany cloud deployments like the spanners on old-fashioned sardine tins. Instead, organisations need to deploy one of the next-generation cloud management platforms that spans all environments, irrespective of where they are.

These more evolved solutions have kept up with the complexities of multi-cloud environments and address all the security, cost and management difficulties that arise. Organisations regain the visibility and control they need and can choose providers and services for the best value. They can deploy, allocate and migrate resources wherever they need them, using a plan they have developed in collaboration with the platform provider.

Preparation and configuration

In preparation, a workload assessment should employ best-in-class software to perform a stock-take of an organisation’s entire estate, identifying usage of every server. This will reveal the benefits and disadvantages of the many different cloud environments and recommend where workloads should go in line with the business objectives of each deployment. The process should accommodate the organisation’s probable AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning needs and requirements for data orchestration, security and compliance.

Configuration then takes place in line with a business’ specific needs, tuning the different hardware and software elements so they are fully interoperable. Organisations should also ensure they have maximum flexibility and resilience via cloud on-ramps such as Megaport, which provides high availability of cloud services allied to the ability to add or change cloud connections in line with evolving requirements. Fast fibre connections to the big public cloud providers’ hubs are also important. The deployment of low latency applications that depend on high-speed, high-bandwidth connections is growing steadily as businesses start implementing Industry 4.0 technologies and explore the full benefits of IoT (Internet of Things) and Edge Computing.

With vastly complicated management of multi-cloud environments now causing so many difficulties and cost overruns, IT departments should consider using next-generation cloud management platforms so they can regain control and not feel overwhelmed. It is only through a next-generation approach they can achieve the levels of performance and optimisation their businesses need and continue with critical Digital Transformation initiatives.

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