Today, organizations are realizing the advantages of using the cloud – almost unlimited storage and scalability, pay-as-you-go cost structure, speed, reliability, containerization, security, and maintenance handled by the cloud providers – far outweigh the disadvantage of not having data housed on a local server. The cloud allows companies to scale infrastructure easily, offer better customer experiences, improve employee collaboration, increase innovation, and raise productivity.
The cloud is a game-changer for many companies trying to transform digitally. However, the cloud providers haven’t made it easy for organizations to understand the differences between their offerings and services, especially when a multi-cloud strategy is wanted, so here are five tips on how to ensure a business can get the most out of its multi-cloud strategy.
#1. Avoid Vendor Lock-in
Businesses implement multi-cloud strategies to increase agility, improve cost efficiencies, utilize best-in-breed solutions, and increase flexibility so it’s rare that going with one cloud provider is the best option and the cloud providers have recognized this. For example, Google Cloud’s solution Anthos can help unify a company’s apps, data, and system infrastructure, whether it is located on-prem, in a single cloud, or across multiple clouds.
Because Anthos is built on open standards, customers have a lot of freedom and flexibility in choosing how to navigate their cloud journeys. In June 2020, Google introduced its Anthos-powered BigQuery Omni for Multi-Cloud Analytics, a flexible, multi-cloud analytics solution that lets users analyze their data from a single pane of glass across Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Azure datasets. AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Alicloud offer similar solutions.
#2. Understand the Best-in-class Product for each Cloud Provider
Not all cloud providers are created equal. For example, while AWS has the widest range of services (because they’ve been in the modern cloud game the longest), Google Cloud is known for its data processing, analytics, AI, and machine learning tools, including TensorFlow.
Microsoft Azure has a deep range of DevOps tools and Alicloud has unique tools that are useful for companies that want to reach the burgeoning Chinese market. By picking and choosing between the best cloud provider and the best tools, it’s not just money that will be saved but also any potential integration headaches.
#3. Automate, Automate, Automate
There’s an old adage in IT that, “If you’re doing something twice, you should automate it.” One of the reasons why the cloud is so enticing to users is because so many of the most cumbersome areas of cloud management can be automated. Software upgrades, patching, vulnerability scanning, networking, security checking can all be automated to a certain extend. Automating not only cuts down employee time but can also alleviate human error, while also freeing up employees to handle higher-order tasks.
Cloud providers’ offerings like Infrastructure-as-Code can reduce the need for configuration management tools, while stand-alone IaC frameworks, like Microsoft’s PowerShell DSC or AWS Cloud Formation, can save considerable set-up and integration time.
#4. Cloud Expertise
Every cloud is unique. Private clouds are one-of-a-kind and cloud architecture is – and never will be – a one-size-fits-all proposition. This is why it’s important to have people on your team who are skilled in each of the providers you plan to deploy. There are hundreds of cloud providers, each with a unique cloud offering that is constantly changing.
Cloud expertise is particularly important when it comes to cloud cybersecurity. Hackers are always looking for ways to enter a system and a single misconfigured setting can put an entire data center at risk, so an expert who knows the unique cloud security of each platform used is vital.
#5. Demand cloud cost transparency
Because each provider offers different pricing structures for its different resources, under different settings, it’s important to know exactly how much is being spent on each resource or workload. Cloud costs between providers can be wildly divergent.
In 2020, Zoom signed a deal with Oracle Cloud because its transit pricing was a tenth of what AWS and Azure were planning to charge. Since bills from cloud providers can be quite opaque, it’s hard to know what a team is spending on its cloud platform, so itemization is key. Expenses can rack up on servers that are not needed, and a capacity planning solution can help ensure organizations are only using the machines they need.
The Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report states 92% of enterprises are pursuing a multi-cloud strategy, while 82% have a hybrid cloud strategy and, on average, respondents on average use 2.6 public and 2.7 private clouds in their day-to-day business. The multi-cloud ecosystem is growing, and new tools are appearing all the time. The bottom line for the multi-cloud is it’s about connecting applications and audiences in the best possible way.
Customer experience and customer personalization solutions are becoming incredibly complicated, the big data landscape is accelerating, real-time streaming is putting heavy demands on already-overworked IT departments, while cybersecurity initiatives need to be taken seriously as the cost of security breaches is reaching into the tens of millions. The cloud is here to stay but those planning to get the best out of it need to be smart, agile, and since it’s still a buyer’s market, extremely shrewd with their money.