A Cloudy Horizon: Solving the Multi-Cloud Conundrum

Author: Mehul Patel, Head of Marketing and Customer Insight, Prosimo

The statement that the future is in the cloud is only getting truer by the day. As organizations embrace digital transformation, cloud computing has opened the door to increasing productivity, improving customer engagement, and cutting costs. For many enterprises, the next frontier on this journey is multi-cloud deployments—but the road to getting there has proven to be more complex than some may imagine.

According to Prosimo’s “2021 Semi-Annual State of Multi-Cloud Infrastructure Report and Application eXperience Infrastructure” Study, many organizations are still in the early stages of implementing multi-cloud. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they would have advanced multi-cloud capabilities within two years, which grows to 91% after two years, meaning they will be using multiple cloud service providers (CSPs), in numerous regions, with capabilities at the edge.

There are several potential benefits to using multiple clouds. It allows organizations to choose the platform that best suits their needs for a specific use case, avoids vendor lock-in, and can improve redundancy and mitigate the risk of downtime in the event of an incident. However, multi-cloud adoption can also drastically increase the complexity of your cloud environment, and how well your organization meets any technical challenges head-on will be heavily influenced by the culture you have created.

Enabling Business Agility in the Multi-Cloud Era 

Take a look at many enterprises today, and you will find teams operating in silos and giving birth to cloud shadows. You will find organizational structures that get in the way of collaboration instead of encouraging it. Most damningly, you will discover a lack of a unified strategy, which in turn leads to more shadow IT and increases complexity. The result is cloud sprawl, limited visibility, and poor control. 

Every time a developer launches a new workload on a cloud platform without the knowledge of the overall IT department or security team, a new potential blindspot appears. In a multi-cloud environment, these issues will only exacerbate visibility, performance, security, and compliance issues.

In the multi-cloud infrastructure report mentioned above, 62% identified finding a consistent way to manage networking across cloud service provider environments as the most significant cloud networking challenge. Next on the list were implementing security without negatively impacting application performance (46%) and successfully adopting Zero Trust for cloud workloads (58%).

Technology provides a piece of the puzzle for addressing these issues

Leveraging legacy approaches to address these challenges is not an option. Fifty-three percent of enterprises that turned to traditional networking faced operational complexity, security, and performance issues. Multi-cloud requires a cloud-first mindset that embraces cloud-native technologies.

Underpinning this approach is a culture that encourages agility and modernization. In the world of cloud computing, friction is the enemy of progress. Enterprise leaders should design their cloud strategy with clear business objectives in mind and an understanding of how the cloud will impact employee workflows and improve processes—and all of this needs to be communicated to the appropriate stakeholders.

There is often a push-pull between a decentralized approach that allows teams to work more autonomously and a more centralized system that focuses on tight governance. Centralized authority can slow down a DevOps team’s workflow and be vital to maintaining consistency and security. For organizations to thrive in a multi-cloud environment, a balance needs to be struck between being decentralized enough to enable innovation and creative problem-solving and centralized enough to enable governance without negatively impacting velocity.

Also Read: Three Reasons Why Cloud Transformation is an Ingenious Idea

What organizations need, then, is to create a culture that encourages collaboration and a unified approach to networking and security while avoiding the attitudes and practices that contribute to operational silos. So how does one get there? For starters, begin at the top:

Foster cooperation. IT and business leaders should make it a point to break down silos between teams, reorganizing them as needed so that the necessary parties are aware of common goals, metrics, and requirements. Communication should happen early and often.

Eliminate friction. Poor cooperation between different teams, manual processes, and a reliance on legacy technologies to address modern problems make multi-cloud adoption—and cloud adoption generally—increasingly complex. Reducing friction within your organization improves your path to success.  

Set clear business goals for cloud initiatives. Multi-cloud adoption projects should be tied to clear—and ideally—measurable objectives that can be used to validate or adjust your approach. Gauging the success of these objectives will require comprehensive visibility into your cloud environment.

Be adaptable and responsive. Traditional approaches to networking are not sufficient to address the needs of cloud infrastructures. Focus on adopting cloud-agnostic practices and technologies that will enable developers and others to innovate to improve performance.

Translating Culture to Success

Taking a siloed approach toward solving connectivity, management, and consistency challenges will only slow progress. Enterprises examining multi-cloud opportunities need to have a culture that leans toward innovation and views the cloud as a means to increase agility and accelerate digital transformation. 

Supporting your organizational culture should be technology that unifies networking, security, application, performance, and visibility and does so without compromising one of the main benefits of cloud computing—speed. Right now, enterprises are using a range of strategies, multi-cloud networking vendors, legacy networking tools, and homegrown solutions to power their multi-cloud journey. That includes legacy networking, open-source, and SD-WAN solutions, which adds management complexity.

However, legacy mindsets and legacy solutions cannot be a part of your multi-cloud future. For multi-cloud deployments to succeed, enterprises need to deliver consistent application experiences for all their users and locations that are buttressed by a unified management layer for their on-premises and cloud networking needs. This effort will require an integrated stack that understands the requirements of individual applications and benefits from a multi-cloud networking transit that works at the application layer and provides end-to-end connectivity to application endpoints across disparate regions.

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