Let’s be honest: hybrid cloud computing has the potential to give you a bit of a headache.
More and more organisations are finding themselves in the world of a multi-cloud environment, where they’re using multiple cloud computing and storage services in a single network architecture. In its simplest form, a multi-cloud is where an organisation uses more than one public cloud to deliver business services to its users. For example, using Microsoft Azure for your Office 365 service and Google Cloud Platform for your analytics services. According to Gartner, 81% of organisations using public cloud are working with two or more cloud providers to service their business.
A multi-cloud environment has clear benefits – but these benefits also come with significant challenges. I’d argue that the only way to tackle these challenges is with detailed migration planning which includes how to operate once applications are migrated across. Organisations that don’t look carefully at the people, process and cultural transformations that need to take place could find themselves overwhelmed by the challenges. And organisations that don’t manage to unlock the benefits of moving to a multi-cloud environment often end up repatriating to private cloud.
The 4 key positives of a multi-cloud environment
There’s a long list of positives of a multi-cloud environment, but four key factors stand out for me:
- Choice – Access to a range of cloud environments gives you flexibility and the ability to avoid vendor lock-in.
- Disaster avoidance - Multi-cloud environments ensure that your services aren’t affected by a single cloud provider’s misfortune.
- Compliance – Many cloud providers can help you to meet your obligations to Governance, Risk Management and Compliance regulations (GRC).
- Competitive pricing – You’re free to compare different providers and to secure the best available rates for your specific requirements.
The 5 main challenges of multi-cloud
These benefits are not automatic though. In my experience, organisations face the following five main challenges when working in a multi-cloud environment:
- Governance and compliance – As organisations move to multi-cloud its data becomes more distributed. If you’re a global entity operating across multiple regions, your data will be strewn across different cloud providers and across different regions. Managing compliance like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in such an environment becomes complex and, in the worst cases, leads to data breaches with severe consequences. This situation is likely to get worse as newer technologies like edge computing and 5G make processing data at remote locations even simpler.
- Siloed management tools -Today, each cloud provider offers their native tools to monitor, manage and operate resources in its environment. This is ideal for organisations locked in with a single cloud service provider, but it doesn’t work when you’re operating in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment because you don’t have a consolidated, holistic view across your clouds. You’re left dealing with a dizzying number of different tools to manage the cloud platforms you use, each specific to the vendors you’re working with.
- Spiralling costs – on top of the cost and complexity involved in managing multi-cloud contracts, you can end up with ‘cloud sprawl’ where the costs associated with each service quickly spin out of control, and you don’t have a mechanism to control costs across all your cloud platforms.
- A shortage of skilled staff – To be successful, organisations operating a mixed cloud model must have people with the right skills managing each of their clouds – and these people are hard to get. Plus, the skills usually considered ‘nice to haves’ in a single cloud environment become ‘must-haves’ in a multi-cloud world, so you need to upskill your teams.
- Connectivity – Under hybrid or multi-cloud models, high latency, packet loss, security exposure, and managing multiple connectivities are common issues. It’s important to consider network bandwidth and latency rates when working with multi-cloud architectures.
A cloud management platform is essential to multi-cloud success
Given the challenges around moving and operating in a multi-cloud environment, how can organisations who would like to move to this mixed operating model reduce the challenges and reap the benefits of multi-cloud?
We all know that a clearly defined, well-researched, and coherent strategy along with planned digital, cultural and business transformation is critical for a successful cloud migration. However, it’s also vital to get the operational tools, people and processes right once you’ve moved to a multi-cloud environment.
So, investing in the right cloud management platform (CMP) is key to both effective digital transformation and making sure that everything is operating effectively post transformation. In its simplest form, a CMP can be defined as a suite of integrated tools designed to manage cloud computing resources in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment in a consistent manner. A CMP is the foundation an organisation needs to bridge the gap between teams, tools, and processes, independent of where and how applications are deployed. The right CMP lets you unify the tools you already have and manage your clouds, instead of forcing you to rip and replace existing technologies. Investing in a cloud management solution creates an operating environment that’s rich in automation, orchestration and cloud brokering. It delivers security, compliance, cost management and cloud lifecycle management, all from a unified, fully integrated solution.
Cloud management, made simple
We’ve partnered with Morpheus to bring you a powerful self-service engine to provide enterprise agility, control, and efficiency. Our cloud management platform can quickly enable on-prem private clouds, centralise public cloud access, and orchestrate change with cost analytics, governance policy, and automation.
To find out more about how our cloud management platform could help you get the most from your multi-cloud environment, giving you better management, visibility and control over your public and private cloud services, please check out our webpage, or get in touch with your account manager.