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The Secret to an Effective Multicloud Strategy Is…an Actual Strategy

Contrary to catchy marketing slogans, just deciding to adopt a multicloud strategy is not a multicloud strategy. Recognizing the need for multicloud, be it to reduce costs, improve security or accelerate digital transformation is an important step, but it’s not the formal strategy for managing, supporting multicloud deployments that is required in order to get the highest ROI from these initiatives.

However, many organizations have either yet to realize the difference or are unaware of the value a formal strategy brings, and this is understandable. It is not uncommon for companies to take an ad-hoc, we’ll-figure-it-out-as-we-go, approach. While that approach can work for some, it rarely leads to the development of the infrastructure needed to support modern cloud architectures and often undermines digital transformation success. 

Then, there’s the enterprises that haven’t even thought about developing a multicloud strategy because they don’t quite realize just how many cloud services they’re using. According to a 2019 McAfee report on cloud risk and adoption, “the average organization uses 1,935 unique cloud services, an increase of 15% from last year. Most organizations think they use about 30.” Many of these firms would have likely preferred to set a strategy before their cloud services mushroomed exponentially, but with the pace of cloud services’ proliferation, not everyone was paying attention.

Avoid Problems with an Effective Strategy

Companies without a strategy must shoulder a compounded array of heavy and complicated issues which most commonly include the following:

  • Introducing unnecessary complexity into their IT environment and facing the prospect of having to untangle multiple, ad hoc approaches
  • Burdening IT staff, that may not have the appropriate skills tools needed to manage a multicloud environment effectively (or resolve complexity)
  • Lacking the right IT infrastructure, like modern, flexible data storage, to support their multicloud environment
  • Poor monitoring and governing of cloud services
  • Struggling with “cloud sprawl”—the uncontrolled proliferation of cloud instances or cloud presence—due to a lack of governance
  • Facing regulatory compliance challenges and risking 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.

Any guesses on how to achieve that alignment? That’s right: They need a strategy.

Five Considerations When Creating a Multicloud Strategy

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.  Prioritize Interoperability

Interoperability in cloud computing means your various cloud services and platforms understand each other and can work together and exchange information. 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.”

When you’re hiring for your team you evaluate candidates based on their resume and skills, but also whether they’ll be a strong match for your corporate culture and can collaborate effectively, right? Implementing a multicloud solution should be done in the same way -- just because the solution looks good on paper, doesn’t mean it is a good fit. If the capabilities the solution offers have no chemistry with your current infrastructure, and you “hire” it based on resume alone, you’ll end up with a bad fit.

2. Embrace Automation from the Start

Enterprises pursuing multicloud deployments need to invest in best-in-class automation management tools. Without them, enterprises will lack the capability to effectively orchestrate data, applications, and infrastructure across different cloud environments, and be unable to monitor their multicloud environment effectively, or adjust workloads automatically.

Automation allows enterprises to innovate continuously by harnessing the strengths of different cloud services quickly when the need to create new capabilities arises. 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. Include 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, enterprises 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-informed approach to multicloud would include standardizing and automating much of the testing and deployment, for example.

4. Invest in Modern Storage Infrastructure

Enterprises need the right foundation of storage supporting their multicloud environment. By implementing modern, flexible storage, organizations can adapt to modern cloud architectures and scale for multiple workloads and variable data patterns more quickly and easily.

Smart investment in storage infrastructure can empower organizations to accelerate digital transformation efforts, increase analytics maturity and move seamlessly between private and public cloud, unifying cloud ecosystems in one data layer.

5. Be Critical and Selective—But Also Stay Flexible

Adopting a multicloud strategy does not mean that all apps and infrastructure need to move to the cloud. In fact, it’s often preferable to leave certain things on-premises and businesses should think critically about what should move to the cloud—and why. Knowing why they should move something to the cloud is core to aligning their multicloud motivation with their multicloud objective.

Regardless of those decisions, selecting the right foundational infrastructure can offer flexibility to adjust what stays or goes over time, and make that back-and-forth possible. If cloud interoperability is prioritized, a framework for flexibility is already in motion. As cloud providers release new functions or better price points, interoperability will allow for the ability to pivot specific workloads and take advantage of new, cloud-based products and features.

A Final Tip: Keep Evolving the Strategy

The work isn’t done once the multicloud strategy is defined. It will need to keep evolving to meet, (and ideally, anticipate,) changing demands and needs. With a thoughtful and dynamic approach to multicloud, one that is supported by the right tools, capabilities, and infrastructure, the overall strategy can be more easily adjusted when needed, environments can be optimized over time and planning for future networking needs and cloud adoption needs can ensue.