IT strategy is more complex than ever, thanks to all the software as a service (SaaS), cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and multiple platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings available today.
In the past few years, cloud-first strategies proliferated resulting in hybrid IT environments in which some computing workloads were outsourced and others were not. Reasons for a cloud-first strategy often included savings via fewer IT staff and less hardware to manage, scalability for businesses enjoying growth, and consolidation of support services like backup and disaster recovery. Some organizations changed this cloud-first to a cloud-only strategy, ignoring on-premises and colocation options, sometimes at their own peril because there were good reasons why specific workloads could not yet be migrated to the cloud.
In the past year, we have seen a significant shift from cloud-first strategy to multi-cloud strategy. Many adopters believe multi-cloud is the more flexible hybrid IT strategy than cloud-first or cloud-only strategy. Multi-cloud strategy is usually defined as a best-of-breed approach for each service or application, using different types of clouds depending on requirements.
Proponents of multi-cloud cite flexibility in application choice, better use of open architectures, and application programming interfaces (API) for more robust integrations, and better control over shadow IT. Many say that multi-cloud is the only practical approach as organizations continue to migrate applications from on-premises and colocation-based hardware to cloud services.
Like any strategy, multi-cloud has challenges. Complexity, often hidden, can tax an IT team’s ability to manage multi-cloud environments. Most centralized management tools are in early stages. Monitoring multi-cloud usage, performance, and cost usually requires multiple tools and dashboards, adding complexity. Automation is a key component of multi-cloud, and many IT organizations don’t have the automation skills they need in-house. Multi-cloud can come with surprising network complexities and challenges, often outstripping in-house networking skill sets.
What are the key questions you might ask your organization in choosing the right cloud strategy?
- Do you believe your organization should choose the best applications available for the business requirements?
- Do you now (or do you expect to) have more than one cloud IaaS provider or SaaS provider?
- Have you identified the hidden complexities that using a combination of SaaS, IaaS, colocation, and on-premises hybrid infrastructure can bring?
- What steps are you taking to address the complexities like network, security, and skills gaps that come with choosing the right cloud for the job?
- Can your cloud service provider(s) help you minimize complexity and fill skills gaps to meet your business outcomes?
Many believe that multi-cloud strategy is inevitable as organizations continue to innovate using IT. Multi-cloud helps organizations optimize cloud investments and deliver better business outcomes and innovations.
Interested in real-world examples of multi-cloud strategy? Contact me and let’s schedule a discussion.
Doug Theis is the Director of Market Strategy in Expedient’s Indianapolis market focused on engaging with and improving the regional IT community through planning, sponsoring and attending community events, facilitating IT-focused continuing education opportunities, and sharing strategies, tactics, and research to help IT professionals stay abreast of best practices and industry trends. Connect with Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter.