Navigating the multicloud: how to build a successful strategy and stick to it
It is almost impossible to make an accurate prediction as to the real future of multicloud technology. However, there are two things at least of which we can be certain: it will mature, and it will gain even greater popularity.
The rise of the intelligent edge and edge cloud data centres are set to have a positive impact on multicloud adoption, as more cloud vendor offerings and services are made available within the marketplace. Add to this the introduction of affordable and fast corporate connectivity, which is making cloud connectivity more deterministic and enables zero latency connectivity, and it is clear that these connectivity developments will serve to advance multicloud adoption and services offered by cloud vendors.
Why go the multicloud route?
The possibilities are almost infinite, as organisations seek to maximise value, drive down costs and capitalise on specific offerings suited for their businesses, without being dependent on a specific platform or data structure.
Multicloud environments are able to deliver a number of benefits. Chief amongst these are the maximisation of cloud Return on Investment (ROI), and the enablement of a phased and flexible approach to public and/or hosted cloud adoption.
Furthermore, multicloud provides businesses with the freedom to adopt a unique cloud architecture, tailor-made for their organisation, enabling the hosting of specific workloads that fit best across on-premise, public, hybrid or hosted cloud platforms.
Importantly, multicloud is also able to mitigate any potential cloud vendor lock-in across workloads
How do you go about building a successful multicloud strategy?
Every organisation needs to start off by understanding their ‘as-is’ environment from three perspectives: people, processes and technologies.
So, when looking at the technology stack, an assessment is necessary in order to gain a full understanding of the landscape.
Once the associated workloads and their dependencies have been determined, they can then be aligned to Gartner’s five Rs of cloud adoption. These include which workloads to rehost, refactor, rearchitect, rebuild or replace. The commonly omitted R, and one that does not form part of the official framework but must still be considered, is which workloads to retain, as there will be some instances where they do not need to be migrated.
With this understanding, an organisation can then map the technology or workloads to the associated business processes, which will incorporate and highlight the people involved.
Deliberating the people aspect in greater detail will see a company looking at factors such as the retraining of staff where required, adoption and change management principles for each workload, and the security and governance considerations associated with them.
Well-established organisations that do not consider a holistic approach across the three areas of people, processes and technology will find themselves under severe pressure to keep up with more modern, smaller-sized competitors that are born in the cloud. These more agile businesses do not carry the same large overheads or staff headcount, and have embraced multicloud capabilities on a pay-per-use model. This enables them to compete effectively and even disrupt a particular market segment with relative ease.
A company also needs to understand that cloud – or rather multicloud – adoption is very much dependent on a potentially new business model or significant business process changes, as the traditional way of operating could potentially prove to be unreliable or not efficient enough for the company to remain competitive.
It could also prevent the business from leveraging the full capabilities of a multicloud strategy whilst driving constant innovation. This includes considerations regarding release cycles, testing, making use of automation, and leveraging existing data with artificial intelligence to become more strategic and effective.
Developing a two-sided platform approach to address existing products and services currently being offered to the market will become not only possible but also more cost-effective with multicloud, and could prove important to the organisation to ensure sustainability.
How do you successfully manage a multicloud environment?
As previously outlined, managing a multicloud environment is very much dependent on the people, processes and technology involved to achieve the task. There is no ‘silver bullet’ to be used to achieve this, and an organisation will not be able to accomplish the task by only focusing on one of the required areas.
From a technology perspective, there are amazingly capable solutions that can assist with the task, providing a single pane of glass management, governance, and compliance views and configuration requirements.
However, these technologies require a streamlined process, which should be supported by the underlying business processes and model. In addition, both the technology and process areas require the correct people, who are skilled with regards to the technologies, to be involved in order to deliver against their expectations from the business per workload or cloud platform.
Choose the right multicloud provider
If looking to partner with a trusted provider, there are certain non-negotiable attributes that a business should consider.
The partner identified should be easy and flexible to work with, offer experience across the full cloud adoption phases, and have a mature, holistic approach to a company’s cloud adoption journey. It is also important for the partner to have an established track record.
A sustainable partnership is key, and should not focus purely on project or technology specific initiatives or objectives.
Cloud adoption and, even more so, multicloud adoption, is not a destination. It is a journey, which comes part and parcel with difficult discussions and high-impact decisions and changes. At the same time, it also holds wonderful results to the bottom line for the organisation – if approached with the correct partner.
By Pierre de Leeuw, business unit head – Platform & Advisory Services at First Technology Digital