How to Build your IT Strategy for A Multi-Cloud World

April 30, 2018 | Posted by

2018 is an exciting time for the enterprise IT leader. Cloud computing brought the promise of simplicity and scale, but only recently have businesses started fully integrating cloud – multiple clouds, in fact – into their IT organization.

Consider these stats on cloud adoption:

  • Organizations run an average of 3.1 clouds (Source: a 2018 survey from RightScale).
  • According to Forrester, 41 percent of companies use two to four cloud providers, and 48 percent use five or more providers (Source: SearchCIO).
  • By the end of 2018, 25 percent of total application workloads will be running in the cloud, with this set to reach 44 percent by 2021, according to a survey of CIOs conducted by Morgan Stanley (Source: Wall Street Journal).
  • 81 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy (Source: 2018 survey from RightScale).

There’s plenty of data to support that enterprises are using more than one cloud, but much of that has to do with there not being a single-vendor solution that meets a wide range of needs in a cost-effective manner. Some clouds might have a specialty that’s well suited for a particular workload. For example, a Microsoft shop might want to use Azure for Office 365 and other Microsoft applications. Or, perhaps they have a large quantity of archived data that’s better suited for a low-cost cloud solution.

But while IT is increasingly relying on a multi-cloud strategy to meet business objectives, unfortunately many are discovering that the cloud industry hasn’t evolved enough to truly support the needs of the modern enterprise.

Multi-Cloud Brings Multi Challenges

When dealing with these multiple silos across on-premises infrastructure, AWS, Azure and more, IT faces a wide range of obstacles and challenges. First, they need a way to ensure workload performance and control cost, which becomes confusing due to varying cost and licensing models as well as management systems. According to RightScale, 35 percent of cloud spend is wasted, and 58 percent of organizations ranked optimizing cloud costs as their top initiative for 2018.

Second, it can be difficult to keep track of all of the workloads and resources in the various locations. Many organizations face enormous sprawl, making it hard to optimize. There have even been cases of organizations with orphaned resources – which were once ready to deploy and now sit unused – driving up the monthly costs. The truth is, it’s hard to control, and you need a management tool that can keep up with this increased complexity while ensuring that each workload is running in the optimal location.

One common experience organizations face is with development and testing teams. Spinning up resources in the cloud for development testing might be quick and easy, but once the application is deployed, the organization is locked into yet another cloud platform. With a variety of testing and devops from different groups and a wide range of development instances, it also might not be clear which services are unnecessary, causing more costs to get lost in the shuffle. And, of course, there’s shadow IT, with teams bypassing the normal processes and using the corporate credit card to fire up a new service.

Building Your Strategy for a Multi-Cloud World

When you look at the cloud, it’s clear that there are still significant problems that need to be solved before we can thrive in this world of many clouds. This is a challenge we take seriously at Pivot3, and is one that we’re seeking to address with Pivot3 Cloud Edition as well as our company’s long-term strategy.

What should the IT leader do to prepare for a world of many clouds? First, take an inventory of all the existing workloads, and run analytics to understand what’s being used currently and what resources are needed. Then, when it’s time to procure cloud resources, it’s being done for a very specific reason and in a very controlled manner.

Second, when evaluating various vendors, evaluate on a per-workload basis. Different clouds tend to be suited for different workloads – from a production database to an archive solution – so it’s important to make sure there’s a clear match. Even a service like AWS has several different storage options that vary based on the required performance or cost. There’s a plethora of options, so it’s important to be thoughtful and choose the right service that will make the most sense for the workload’s needs.

Third, look for vendors that acknowledge existing challenges and pain points in a multi-cloud environment, and most importantly, are working to address it. Do they recognize that there’s a problem? What is their current and long-term strategy for supporting a multi-cloud and multi-vendor reality?

At Pivot3, we’ve seen tremendous success with the policy-based intelligence engine in our hyperconverged infrastructure platform, and recently extended this to the cloud to simplify how companies are able to operate in a multi-cloud world. We’re working with VMware vRealize to produce private cloud infrastructures, while working with other vendors to provide integrations with the key public clouds. Right now, customers and partners are telling us that the biggest pain points are with disaster recovery, workload mobility and analytics, so we’re tackling this head-on, with a close eye on the future to evaluate what the market needs next.

The challenge to the industry is clear: IT is ready to enter the multi-cloud world, but can vendors keep up? We’re ready for this journey and invite you to join us.

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