By Simon Michie, CTO, Pulsant
The use of multiple cloud vendors is becoming part of everyday life for many businesses. The Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report outlines that 89% of organisations globally now have a multi-cloud strategy.
Exactly how many clouds organisations use depends partly on definitions. In the Global Hybrid Cloud Trends report for Cisco, 47% of respondents employ between two and three public IaaS clouds. The evidence is organisations are moving towards multi-cloud deployments because of the need to balance security with business agility.
A multi-cloud approach gives organisations flexibility to access vendor-specific capabilities they would otherwise struggle to acquire, which is important for SMEs. They may, for example, host their web applications on AWS and Exchange servers on Azure. Multi-cloud works well for organisations with a best-of-breed approach to IT that want to avoid vendor lock-in. A business has the freedom to decide where data should be located and how it wants to access it, whether for compliance, latency, or cost reasons.
Multi-cloud can cause multiple headaches
But as cloud environments expand it is easy for multi-cloud architectures to become unwieldy, failing to support business requirements.
Agility, flexibility and the ability to innovate and use new applications are declining for many organisations. IT departments lose sight of their deployments and quickly find them difficult to orchestrate. Optimisation has become critical, with organisations estimating they waste 32% of cloud expenditure, according to Flexera research. These problems can make any IT decision-maker feel like a clown when the business starts asking questions about why costs are rising without any significant new capabilities.
Poor tooling and scarce skills
IT leaders need to regain control. The loss of overall visibility often arises from the use of several cloud tools to view performance and costs. This often leaves IT departments unaware of the resources they use across their infrastructure.
In many organisations, nobody knows which cloud service is best for specific workloads and the additional costs they may rack up if they expand. If the business reaches the limits of resource capacity in one cloud, does it have the architecture to auto-scale to meet those extra needs? These are critical pieces of knowledge. Having workloads in the most suitable environment is fundamental to optimising performance and cost, but so is the ability to expand cost-effectively.
Infrastructure sprawls, as organisations add capacity without much in the way of expertise or strategy, has become a real headache from both management and cost perspectives. It increases security vulnerabilities and dumps unforeseen bills on desks, especially concerning the costs of data egress from the major cloud providers. It can also compromise confidence that the organisation is meeting data sovereignty requirements. In the Flexera report this year, lack of expertise was one of the top cloud challenges for 78% of SMEs.
Next-generation tools restore control
Organisations need to know if their cloud infrastructure is architected correctly, working efficiently, and how they can manage and improve it without employing yet more costly IT talent. The easiest and most effective way is to deploy a next-generation cloud management platform that spans all environments, regardless of where they are.
These more sophisticated solutions address security, cost and all the management difficulties of multi-cloud environments. Organisations regain visibility and control and get to choose providers and services for the best value. They can deploy, allocate and migrate resources wherever they need them, using a plan they have developed in collaboration with the platform provider.
Before deploying such tools, a workload assessment should use best-in-class software to perform a stocktake of an organisation’s entire industry, identifying usage of every server. This will lay bare the benefits and disadvantages of the many different cloud environments and recommend where workloads should go in line with the business objectives of each deployment. Inputs into this process should include the organisation’s probable AI and machine learning needs, requirements for data orchestration, along with specific security and compliance requirements.
Configuration is then accomplished in line with a business’s specific needs, making the different hardware and software elements fully interoperable. Organisations should also ensure they have maximum flexibility and resilience via cloud on-ramps such as Megaport, which provides high availability of cloud services and the ability to add or change cloud connections. Fast fibre connections to the big public cloud providers’ hubs are also important as low latency applications become more widespread and businesses look to access Industry 4.0 technologies and the full benefits of IoT and edge computing.
With poor management of multi-cloud environments now causing so many difficulties, it is vital IT departments are prepared to use next-generation cloud management platforms to regain control. They must do so to stand the best chance of achieving the levels of performance and optimisation and to continue what for many is the journey to digital transformation.