Whether it is to meet shifting business objectives, pursue revenue growth, or achieve greater operational efficiency, there is a clarion call to enterprises prompting the move of many of their workloads over to multi-cloud providers.
A recent Forrester Consulting report indicated that 86 percent of survey respondents are planning to move or have already moved many of their mission-critical workloads over to multiple cloud providers. Much of the demand is being driven by our reliance on IoT devices and the need for big data analytics, in addition to enterprise revenue goals and demands.
The report also pointed to the finding that nearly half of enterprises reported they spend at least $50 million on cloud technology—and even more plan to increase or maintain spending over the next few years.
Adopting a multi-cloud strategy comes with many advantages. It is a cost-effective business decision, enabling organizations to balance risk, improve security and compliance, and leverage multiple private, hybrid, and public clouds for different workloads. However, migration is not without its challenges.
In a multi-cloud environment, managing intricate workloads, maintaining security, and staying on top of compliance regulations requires a systemic management approach, integrating different cloud architectures toward the goal of ensuring optimal efficiencies in portability, performance, security, and disaster recovery.
There are many variables to consider when selecting multi-cloud management technology, including how best to manage workloads and application performance prior to transitioning. Below, we’ve listed six questions to help you determine if a multi-cloud provider you’re considering is the right one for your organization.
Are There Resource Management Tools?
While there is no secret recipe for managing resources in a cloud environment, there are strategies for mapping business goals and operational procedures to optimize multi-cloud capabilities. Businesses should author a model that tracks their services to cloud resources using cloud service management tools; otherwise, the result is losing control of resource optimization—or lack thereof—entirely.
Taking a multipronged approach that leverages each cloud provider’s native interface will enable better management and orchestration of each cloud management platform tool.
Will I Have Access to Automation and Provisioning?
In a multi-cloud environment, automation tools come in handy for processes such as error monitoring, log management, and application performance management. Look at these tools to automate as many routine tasks as possible and free up time to tend to mission-critical tasks.
A good automation engine will integrate into multi-tier deployments, allowing for intra-service orchestration, application deployment, and configuration management. Examples include Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, and NetApp.
Is It Scalable?
An enterprise’s ability to devote ample resources to the growth of the business determines its ability to scale. When compatibility issues exist across platforms, the benefits of multi-cloud computing are diminished because IT resources are redirected toward routine tasks requiring manual maintenance, such as repairing broken links.
A cloud platform technology that provides elasticity and uniformity across multiple ecosystems is highly desirable in delivering a quality of service that provides a solution supporting continued scalability through the service life of the platform.
What is the Cross-Platform Interoperability?
When selecting a multi-cloud provider, it’s important to choose one that is flexible and supports programs that run on all existing platforms or whichever platform you designate. For example, you will want your provider to support applications that can run on Windows and Linux x86 architecture, Mac OS and Apple x86 systems, or whatever combination your organization requires operationally.
How Can I Ensure Compliance, Governance, and Reporting?
Regardless of whether your organization is running network systems in the cloud or not, compliance requires a clear line of sight to your responsibilities and requirements that must be upheld. Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018, compliance comes with tighter controls and penalties regarding enforcement of data protection, which will make it more challenging to move into multi-cloud environments.
Interestingly, as many as 75 percent of all cloud apps run by enterprises are out of compliance with the new rules, according to a 2016 Netskope Cloud Report. In the end, data compliance rests ultimately with your organization, not the cloud provider. It is important to deploy enterprise-level encryption and key management that is flexible enough to implement at your own data center or in a multi-cloud environment.
What about governance? Cloud governance requirements for data security, discovery, and archiving are some of the most important aspects of multi-cloud technology. Knowing your provider can accommodate your organization’s governance policies and procedures both locally and internationally will be vital to meeting security and data protection guidelines.
Ensure that the provider’s service is agile and scalable as far as pricing and capacity, and can provide protection from claims arising from data destroyed without clear authority.
Likewise, with multi-cloud systems, look for robust reporting tools that can deliver scalable integrations to your software systems and can operate within a data warehouse environment—a necessity for inter-cloud reporting today.
What Types of Support and Training Are Available?
It’s a no-brainer that multi-cloud support should be available 24/7, 365 days per year. But more important is how skilled the vendor’s staff is at rapid problem resolution. For enterprises in the financial sector, for example, the speed at which breaches and downtime are resolved will determine the severity of financial losses and/or damage to brand reputation.
With the pace of updates and new releases moving at lightspeed among cloud providers, it’s critical that training mimic the technical environment that staff will actually operate in and that resources are available to measure ROI to verify that employees are acquiring the necessary skills to work in a multi-cloud environment. These services should be made available to you, at the very least.
Multi-cloud technology is advancing rapidly, and the advantages of operating in cloud ecosystems are many. If your business is considering multi-cloud technology providers, ask the questions above to ensure that they can accommodate your organization’s requirements for agility, cost saving, scalability, security, and compliance.