Let’s just get this off the table: Deciding to adopt a multicloud strategy is not a multicloud strategy. That is, the motivation to “go multicloud”—whether it’s to reduce costs, improve security, accelerate digital transformation, or some other factor—is not the same as a formal strategy for managing, supporting, and getting the most value from multicloud deployments.
Yet many organizations don’t understand the difference. Or they just don’t see the importance of creating a formal strategy, believing instead that an ad hoc, “we’ll-figure-it-out-as-we-go-along” approach is a better way to go. That can work sometimes, but it’s usually a very rough road. It won’t likely lead to implementing high-performing infrastructure needed to support modern cloud architectures—and that can undermine digital transformation success.
Meanwhile, some enterprises haven’t even thought about developing a multicloud strategy because they don’t realize just how many cloud services they’re using. A 2019 McAfee report on cloud risk and adoption found that most organizations use 1,935 unique cloud services, on average. However, most estimate they only have about 30. No doubt, many of these firms would have preferred to set a strategy before their cloud services mushroomed exponentially, but they weren’t paying attention.
No Strategy, Lots of Problems
Not understanding the importance of having a well-thought-out multicloud strategy is risky business. Why? Because companies without a strategy must shoulder an array of heavy and complicated issues. For one, they grapple with high or unpredictable costs because they don’t choose their cloud services wisely, or, as I explained above, they don’t even know what they’re using (hello, shadow IT).
These companies also tend to:
- Introduce unnecessary complexity into their IT environment and face the prospect of having to untangle multiple, ad hoc approaches
- Burden IT staff, who may not have the appropriate skills to manage a multicloud environment effectively (or resolve complexity)
- Lack the right IT infrastructure, like modern, flexible data storage, to support their multicloud environment
- Struggle with “cloud sprawl”—the uncontrolled proliferation of cloud instances or cloud presence—due to a lack of governance
- Face regulatory compliance challenges and risks stemming from not knowing where data is stored and perhaps not realizing the extent of their shared responsibility
That’s a long list. But there’s something else: the unrealized ROI or other business value these organizations leave on the table. That’s because they don’t understand that the motivation for going multicloud (for example, to ensure business continuity) isn’t the same as the multicloud objective: to align cloud use to the organization’s broader business strategy.
And to get that alignment? That’s right: They need a strategy.
Creating a Multicloud Strategy: 5 Considerations
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a multicloud strategy, all enterprises will want to consider the following when creating their own strategy:
1. Prioritizing Interoperability
Interoperability in cloud computing means your various cloud services and platforms understand each other and can work together and exchange information. That’s a good thing. As an Accenture-sponsored report from Everest Group explains, “When interoperability is at the core of a multicloud strategy, workloads run in unison to drive business agility, reduce the cost of technology, and harmonize processes.”
To underscore the criticality of cloud interoperability, think of it in this human context: When you’re hiring for your team, you evaluate whether candidates will be a strong match for your corporate culture and can collaborate effectively. Now, if you “hire” a multicloud solution based on its resume alone, you may get great capabilities but zero chemistry. A bad fit.
Cloud interoperability is only becoming more critical, too. Sanjay Podder, a managing director and global lead for application engineering R&D at Accenture Labs, asserted that interoperability is now “emerging as an essential element in enterprise cloud strategy as companies seek to mitigate vendor lock-ins, ensure business continuity, and navigate through fluctuating workloads.¹”
2. Embracing Automation from the Outset
Enterprises pursuing multicloud deployments need to invest in best-in-class automation management tools—tools for managing more than specific cloud silos. Without these tools, they can’t orchestrate data, applications, and infrastructure across different cloud environments. And they can’t monitor their multicloud environment effectively, or adjust workloads automatically.
Automation is also the path to continuous innovation. It allows enterprises to harness the strengths of different cloud services quickly when the need to create new capabilities arises. And by automatically logging and storing information in the cloud, organizations can accumulate more big data faster, and, in turn, expedite its analysis and application to their decision-making.
3. Including DevOps in the Strategy
Recent research by IDC, sponsored by Red Hat, found that 100% of enterprises worldwide are investing in or evaluating DevOps to achieve faster innovation and greater agility. More than a third of enterprise app development projects are expected to use DevOps by the end of this year, according to IDC.
DevOps workloads will need to run in multicloud environments—and enterprises aiming to expand their use of DevOps must account for that when developing their multicloud strategy and planning multicloud investments. However, they should also consider how their IT teams can use DevOps tools and processes to help the business better manage and realize the benefits of multicloud. A DevOps approach to multicloud would include standardizing and automating much of the testing and deployment, for example.
Find out why developing and deploying applications in the cloud is faster when you use a DevTest environment.
4. Investing in Modern Storage Infrastructure
It’s critical for enterprises to have the right foundation of storage supporting their multicloud environment. By implementing modern, flexible storage like Pure Storage®, organizations can adapt to modern cloud architectures and scale for multiple workloads and variable data patterns more quickly and easily. They can also:
- Move seamlessly between private and public clouds, and unify their cloud ecosystems to create one data layer
- Increase analytics maturity, which research shows can help drive significant competitive advantage
- Reinvigorate, or accelerate, digital transformation efforts, which many enterprises now realize they can no longer afford to keep on the back burner
Learn how to design an infrastructure strategy for seamless cloud mobility.
5. Being Selective—But Also Staying Flexible
Going multicloud doesn’t mean that all apps and infrastructure need to move to the cloud. In fact, it’s often preferable to leave certain things on-premises. So, when creating a multicloud strategy, businesses need to think critically about what should stay on-premises and what should go to the cloud—and why. (Knowing why you should move something to the cloud is core to aligning your multicloud motivation with your multicloud objective.)
Flexibility should be top of mind when deciding what stays or goes because you may need to adjust that balance over time. To make that back-and-forth possible, you need the right foundational infrastructure supporting your multicloud environment (see Consideration #4).
If you’ve prioritized cloud interoperability (Consideration #1), you’re in a very good place already. Interoperability creates flexibility. And, as cloud providers release new functions or better price points, interoperability will serve as the framework that lets you pivot specific workloads and take advantage of new, cloud-based products and features.
A Final Tip: Keep Evolving Your Strategy
Once you’ve set your multicloud strategy, your work isn’t done. You’ll need to keep evolving your strategy to meet (and ideally, anticipate) changing demands and needs. With a thoughtful and dynamic approach to multicloud that is supported by the right tools, capabilities, and infrastructure, you can more easily adjust your overall strategy when needed, optimize your environment over time, plan for future networking needs and cloud adoption, and much more.