Although the progression from a hybrid to a multi-cloud strategy is steadily increasing, it remains a challenging process for many businesses. In fact, fewer than half of organizations have a multi-cloud strategy, according to a Business Cloud News survey.
One of the first things to understand about developing a successful multi-cloud strategy is that all clouds are not created equal, so selecting which applications and workloads will run is of great importance. Things such as performance, disaster recovery, security, portability, and more are all important in considering where workloads should live.
Each company’s ability to successfully transition depends heavily on many variables, including the level of understanding of the existing environment, the application/IP/licensing strategies, and the internal IT resources, skill sets, and desired long-term capabilities. Taking advantage of experts for an assessment of your environment and requirements is a great first step.
This assessment will determine what changes may be necessary to optimize your current infrastructure for the cloud via a functional network design. Network solutions such as VMware Cloud and NSX platforms and a coordinated SD-WAN approach will position businesses for successful multi-cloud strategies. But these virtual networking approaches require skilled expertise for customized design and implementations.
Among the first migration decisions is determining the deployment model for each application workload. Cloud migration execution requires a great deal of planning that starts with application mapping. This is the basis for making decisions on what applications to move to the cloud and which cloud they will reside in. The goal is to determine what is best managed internally, externally, or through a skilled managed services partner.
Understanding the applications and their dependencies, as well as which applications are critical to the business, will determine:
- Whether the targets for the infrastructure, applications, and data will reside in private or public cloud, and the particular cloud provider
- Governance and security requirements directly related to the applications
- Target distribution of each application, data, and infrastructure such as storage on AWS, compute on Google, and data that resides on a private cloud as an example
Organizations will need to have a clear understanding of which data compliance requirements must be upheld. This information will determine where the data is best stored and accessed from in a multi-cloud strategy. Organizations will have to define security, including all security requirements at the application, data, and infrastructure levels, which would include:
- Compliance and security mapping of existing approaches for security to the use of clouds
- Defining governance, including the types of policies to create and what they will cover
- Developing a clear understanding of cloud provider practices, protocols, and guarantees in terms of the security and safety of authentication and authorization
Successful migration to a cloud environment requires an understanding of the disaster recovery requirements and features in a cloud-based model. Though sometimes it makes sense to have two or three completely replicated environments globally, it’s often cost-prohibitive, and having a proven and tested disaster recovery plan is essential regardless of how the technology works today—it must be tested and retested to keep up with change.
Though the potential benefits of a multi-cloud strategy are quite significant, each of these steps that have been briefly touched on and the many others that are also involved are both complex and time-consuming to execute properly. Having managed service provider support can augment your internal IT team in terms of staffing and expertise.
A skilled MSP can apply multi-cloud management best practices to its understanding of business and IT needs to partner with the business in strategy development and execution. This can maximize the benefits of the strategy and deliver cost efficiencies while positioning the business to meet future operational needs.