Organisation may finding themselves using multiple clouds naturally, but going multi-cloud adds complexity and makes IT support more difficult. IT departments may be questioning why the business needs it. But the good news is that there are ways to address these common concerns.
As always, the first question is how you define multi-cloud. Opinions vary, but here at Telstra Purple, our definition is simple; “multi-cloud is the use of multiple clouds by the same organisation”. This comes with a couple of key points and many implications. Namely, the management of multiple clouds and the responsibility of data in these clouds.
What clouds qualify as part of multi-cloud?
Any cloud should be included in an overarching multi-cloud strategy, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) from public clouds. On-premises private cloud and legacy environments must also be considered as they need to fit into the overall strategy.
Multi-cloud does not have to be a hybrid cloud where different cloud providers are managed by the same control plane and where workloads can be seamlessly migrated between them. If you are using Office 365 and Salesforce, for example, you are doing a multi-cloud. You must manage both cloud services, and you will undoubtedly be storing sensitive organisational data in them. They are most certainly not the same cloud. However, you definitely want users to be able to access both with the same ID and password.
Multi-cloud creates a more complex world
The example above shows how multi-cloud easily adds complexity. Suddenly, you need a single sign-on solution for your clouds. And there are many more examples to add to the list:
- Identity – each cloud comes with its own identity and access controls.
- Security – each cloud increases your security boundary. You need to make sure all clouds are monitored, configured correctly, and appropriately governed.
- Cost – you need to keep track of spend on each cloud to ensure they are not spiralling out of control.
- Skills – You will need skilled people to manage the different types of clouds.
- Data Transfer – transferring data between clouds can be expensive.
- Connectivity – you need robust connectivity to connect all the cloud services.
And adding clouds increases complexity, so design to simplify as much as possible
Scale makes complexity grows exponentially, simple adding more services from, for example, public hyperscaler or connectivity to on-premises, increases complexity. This simple sequence shows how quickly complexity escalates.
If you do not plan and design for multi-cloud, you will very soon be overcome by the complexity. You will have multiple management tools, security tools, identities, and bills. You also need a skilled team in all areas, you will need strong governance or soon you will see inconsistencies that will cause further confusion and uncertainty.
The answer is to acknowledge multi-cloud and address its complexity.
The key is to simplify is preparing, planning, designing, and implementing multi-cloud using a well-thought-out strategy. And if you are already there, start optimising to reduce complexity.
Design your landing zones with repeatable patterns and policies and look for commonalities. Centralise common services like single sign-on that will prevent those username and password mismatches. Look for tools that can simplify operations by providing a common solution over multiple clouds, helping to provide a single interface for configuration, security, availability, and performance.
Ensure consistent governance and security by creating policies and processes that map across your clouds. The implementation steps may be different, but consistency and standards will reduce complexity significantly.
You can, of course, reduce complexity by limiting the number of clouds you use. Make sure your clouds provide business value and do not cost more to manage than their differentiator. Assess to see if they can be consolidated before choosing the complexity of managing and securing yet another cloud.
Cloud breeds Shadow IT
Don’t forget, the issue of shadow IT. The reality is that employees are probably using clouds that are not managed by IT. Do not instantly dismiss these and shut them down. Once you have addressed any security risks look at why it is being used and evaluate the reasons. You can then make a call. If they provide value, you may want to bring them under IT management or look at how to provide the capability within your supported portfolio.
Multi-cloud enables best-in-breed advantages
Multi-cloud can bring many benefits to accelerating digital transformation and reaching business goals, including flexibility, scalability, agility, and resilience. However, sound planning and governance are imperative to extract the maximum value without overloading IT or putting the organisation at risk.