5 Steps to A Successful Multicloud Strategy

1 August 2019 | Francis Prince Thangasamy, Vice President, Product Management, Asia Pacific

Many enterprises are pursuing a multicloud strategy to unlock competitive advantages. But the road to multicloud adoption is not without its challenges. Discover the best practices that will help you succeed in an increasingly complex multicloud world.

The use of multi-vendor, hybrid-cloud environments is gaining momentum, as digital businesses in Asia Pacific (APAC) become more accustomed to running applications and workloads across a combination of public and private clouds from multiple providers. According to Gartner’s recent survey, 81% of enterprise public cloud users work with multiple providers1.

The reasons behind the shift towards multicloud deployments are simple enough. Different cloud providers fulfil different roles, and it is rare for any single provider to meet all your business needs. 

Having a robust multicloud strategy enables IT managers to consider the performance, security and regulatory requirements of each workload, and select the cloud configuration best suited to the task.
 
Another benefit is in avoiding vendor lock-in, allowing enterprises to better capitalize on the strengths of different cloud vendors to address their business challenges. Having a well-planned multicloud strategy also means that it is easier to scale up cloud resources in the future if required. 

81%

Gartner states that 81% of enterprises are utilizing multiple cloud providers1

4.7

451 Research states that enterprises now use an average 4.7 cloud vendors, using a combination of public, private and hybrid services2

90%

IDC predicts that by 2024, 90% of Global 1000 organizations will mitigate lock-in through multi-cloud/hybrid technologies and tools2

1.     Gartner, Why Organizations Choose a Multicloud Strategy, May 2019
2.     451 Research, Enterprise Digital Transformation Strategies, May 2017
3.     IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry Predictions, Oct 2018

Common pitfalls of multicloud deployment

While multicloud is fast becoming the norm among enterprises, the operational challenges of working across different environments — and managing such environments — can be overwhelming.

Common barriers to multicloud adoption include:
 

  • Multicloud migration woes
    Migrating data and applications across multiple clouds can be a tricky proposition. In a multicloud environment, routine tasks such as resource provisioning can become cumbersome to manage without tight integration between the different portals, APIs and processes used by various providers. Imagine the toll it takes on your IT team having to migrate legacy applications and manage a large combination of cloud platforms at the same time. Once entrenched in multicloud environments, the complexity can quickly escalate.
  • Managing cloud sprawl
    Cloud sprawl happens when there are too many cloud services used by different departments or business units across the organization - without IT managers having full visibility and control over the use of cloud resources. If left unmanaged and not properly reined in, this proliferation of cloud services can result in operational issues or IT managers having to constantly grapple with cost oversight and redundancy issues.
  • Security and compliance
    Like building too many front doors to your house, multiple cloud platforms open a company up to a wider range of security vulnerabilities. The shift to multicloud requires extra effort to meet an organization's security, governance and compliance requirements. 

Best practices for multicloud success

A successful multicloud strategy takes careful planning and evaluation of the solutions needed to accommodate new tasks, applications and workloads. IT managers also need to explore how to build and maintain a dynamic, adaptive network architecture to support multicloud environments.

Here are several best practices that enterprises should consider when making the transition. 

1. Assess which cloud services best address your business needs  

A good starting point is to conduct a thorough audit of your present infrastructure needs. This allows organizations to better figure out which additional cloud services are needed for your business workloads and applications. Be sure to evaluate whether the cloud infrastructure is scalable and flexible enough to accommodate your business expansion over the long term.

Another consideration is your organization’s ability to ensure fast, seamless and secure access to public and private clouds. When connecting to multiple cloud service providers, network-related attributes such as security, reliable uptime, flexible bandwidth and low latency are required for a high-performing environment.

2. Monitor your cloud usage to optimize your investment

As your company deploys more applications across various clouds, you want to keep a close eye on what's being used and who is using them. But one of the challenges that arise from cloud sprawl is that without the right tools, it becomes harder for IT managers to predict usage and keep track of their cloud spend.

As a result, you run the risks of failing to optimize your multicloud infrastructure and possibly overpaying for cloud services that are under-utilized.  

Maintaining full visibility over your cloud environments is the best way to ensure that the deployment of cloud resources is well managed and prevent costs from spiraling out of control.
 
A solution is to use unified cloud management tools that provide the visibility needed to monitor and manage cloud usage, performance and cost across multiple platforms.
Demo: CenturyLink® Cloud Application Manager, a cloud-agnostic application and infrastructure management platform in action

3. Ensure effective cloud governance across disparate environments

Assessing and monitoring your legacy hosted and cloud environments is essential not only for managing cloud usage, but also for security and governance purposes.

Ensuring multicloud governance should be a top priority to ensure that applications are deployed and managed according to company policies, across multiple environments and cloud providers. Every aspect of the organization, including IT, must work within these governance requirements and guidelines.

To address the challenge of coordinating workloads across different clouds, look for the right cloud management tools to automate application lifecycle management, monitoring, patching and other tasks. These solutions allow you to orchestrate workloads across any cloud or infrastructure with greater ease and less manual oversight.

4. Fortify security and risk controls

As with any cloud-based networks, you want to safeguard against data losses, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and other security concerns.

Multicloud environments further add to the complexity in terms of how effective security controls are to be enforced and implemented. For instance, traditional security tools are not necessarily designed to protect data and applications accessed across both on-premise and public cloud environments.

No matter how many cloud services, it is vital to have a full complement of capabilities and processes that support your company's security and compliance protocols. Here, it is important to implement consistent policy-based controls across the multiple cloud services you deploy.

5. Put multicloud management at the heart of your strategy

Finally, enterprises expanding into multicloud environments can benefit significantly from having the right multicloud management platform to reduce complexity, improve control and governance and optimize performance.

A cohesive multicloud management approach enables IT teams to more easily provision and manage application workloads across any cloud or on-premise infrastructure. When evaluating cloud management tools, consider platforms that provide the ability to automate key tasks and functions such as application deployments and infrastructure allocation.

Effective multicloud management can also help enterprises augment the built-in security on third-party public cloud platforms. The ideal cloud management solution should provide end-to-end visibility to monitor and control usage across different cloud platforms, empowering security operations (SecOps) teams with transparent oversight of the entire enterprise environment.

CenturyLink has built a remarkable track record of supporting digital businesses worldwide in their journey towards effective multicloud management.

One of our customers is a gaming company who needed to rapidly scale its cloud applications on-demand without compromising governance. The company's IT team needed an agile cloud provisioning solution to provide a self-service environment for its game developers.

Learn more about what digital businesses are saying about CenturyLink® Cloud Application Manager

Choosing CenturyLink® Cloud Application Manager, the gaming company gave its developers the ability to self-service custom virtual machines and environments, achieving 30 times faster provisioning. The self-service model led to significant cost savings on a per-user pricing basis, while giving IT administrators policy-based controls and flexibility to manage the cloud environments. 

Learn more about how CenturyLink® Cloud Application Manager can help you better manage your multivendor cloud environments and reap the associated benefits.

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