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When cloud computing first started, one size really did seem to fit all. Companies looked for quick wins, moving generic applications to public cloud infrastructures so they could take advantage of lower costs and increased scalability. More than a decade later, the industry has evolved.
Organizations are moving from single-cloud implementations to multicloud strategies. Many of the initial applications that moved to the cloud are now running smoothly. But, to keep up with best practices for security and growth, organizations must also review more sensitive, business-critical applications as candidates for cloud computing.
From one cloud to many
Enterprises that focus solely on one cloud provider put themselves at risk by limiting their functionality. In the latest episode of the IBM Cloud Podcast, Marvin Goodman, manager for AI and analytics on the IBM Cloud Analyst Relations team, discusses how a personalized multicloud strategy is the next step. This approach uses a variety of cloud service providers, each offering a unique service that has its own place among a broader set of customer requirements.
Data suggests that companies are already well on their way along this journey. A recent report from 451 Research predicts nearly 70 percent of companies will have multicloud implementations by 2019.
As the number of clouds increases, the IT environment can become increasingly unwieldy.
“If you’ve got five or six cloud vendors and you have to manage them all separately, you’ve done nothing to eliminate complexity. You’ve added complexity,” Goodman says.
An ad hoc approach to cloud personalization can leave companies grappling with multiple systems operated by different providers. This can lead to several potential headaches.
Because multicloud environments are inherently more complex, managing them requires more visibility. To deliver a consistent user experience, organizations must manage application performance across these different clouds, creating a cohesive view of traffic and workflows.
They must also be aware of possible security issues spanning multicloud environments in which data resides in multiple locations, as well as manage multiple APIs and access rules. Companies can ensure a smoothly running multicloud architecture by standardizing backup and restoration procedures, as well as recovery time and recovery point objectives across different providers. Taking these steps will ensure business continuity and more fluid data.
On the commercial side, organizations must manage different service-level agreements and commercial terms. Cloud service providers will each have their own rules about migrating, accessing and exporting data.
Those commercial considerations also involve cost. “Cloud shock,” in which companies underestimate the cost of a cloud environment, is a big enough risk in a single-cloud deployment. With multiple cloud service providers to consider, companies can avoid excessive costs by employing careful consideration and management.
Organizations should map out the requirements for their business services and application portfolio as part of their multicloud migration strategies, understanding the particular requirements for each workflow. On the technical side, cloud deployment teams should understand how to manage different applications operating in different infrastructures and integrate them without issues such as traffic latency.
Business stakeholders may consider updating applications with cloud-native features or rearchitecting the software as a microservice-based software in order to manage and integrate applications operating in different infrastructures. This way, applications can be easily and swiftly updated with new features. Business may need to pivot towards a different service focus, rather than the traditional cost-sensitive application that can be transferred to a cloud infrastructure as a part of a “lift and shift” operation. When each workload is matched to its corresponding cloud service provider, organizations will be able to offer unique services to address a larger range of customer needs.
With these challenges in mind, organizations are changing the ways they evaluate cloud service providers. Basic qualities such as reliability and performance are still on the list of key considerations, but, increasingly, organizations are looking for more. They want strategic partnerships.
“What a cloud vendor has to be able to do is leverage their experience in working with that type of workload for other clients, managing multiple clouds, and reduce that complexity, because at the end of the day, the migration of workloads to the cloud should reduce and eliminate complexity, not make it worse,” Goodman says.
When considering cloud services providers, ask questions like:
- How can you help me with cloud infrastructure design and system migration?
- How do you integrate with third-party cloud environments, including on-premises cloud deployments?
- What tools and services do you offer to improve visibility and manage application performance?
- How can you help me govern the security of my data storage and processing as part of a broader multicloud strategy?
- What features do you offer that will support my application’s particular workload, including traffic flow, performance profile, data capacity and security needs?
By creating a comprehensive picture of assets and applications, along with their dependencies and the business needs they serve, companies can create a map to help navigate the next stage in their cloud computing journey.
Learn more about cloud personalization in Goodman’s episode of the IBM Cloud Podcast and sharpen your skills at Think 2019.