How to Start Running Multiple Clouds

Posted in: Business Insights, Technical Track

2020 will remain one of the most eventful years this generation ever witnesses. From the pandemic to global protests, distractions were unavoidable.

Many businesses struggled, and continue to struggle, as a consequence of the tumultuous year. Industries that rely on fewer digital resources were hit hardest. For those in the digital space, the pandemic brought about great growth and change, but their struggle was something different – scalability.

Online streaming provider Netflix, broke records and increased its net subscriber base by 31.4 percent to surpass 200 million subscribers. Despite the surge in usage it continued to provide services to stream TV shows and movies and entertain users across 190 countries, all without interruption to services. How did they scale up and keep customers satisfied?

The answer lies in the power of the cloud.

Leveraging the cloud allowed Netflix to respond quickly and effectively to changing market demands. This approach ensured that the business stayed relevant and delivered value to customers while demand surged.

But what if you’ve already moved to the cloud? Is now the time to think about a multiple cloud strategy — and how would that impact your business?

Many organizations have discovered power and time-to-market acceleration by using multiple clouds. So let’s look at why you should consider a move to a multiple-cloud environment and touch on the basic steps to get started.

Why make the move to multiple clouds?

Traditional IT infrastructure often lacks the speed and the scale to build new applications quickly. That’s why, for many industries, a single-cloud’s ability to provision resources almost instantly makes it the go-to option for delivering technology projects faster. And with different cloud providers offering different specialties, it’s no wonder the concept and application of multiple clouds are transforming businesses at full speed.

1. Increased agility

One of the greatest hurdles for organizations in this new age of digital transformation is being able to implement business-critical applications and functionality quickly. Cloud services have increased acceleration, however there are a few different approaches. 

In a hybrid cloud environment, an organization uses a combination of public, private and on-premises solutions. While there are specific uses and benefits for this cloud strategy, organizations can encounter issues related to scalability, compatibility and the availability of expert resources.

A public single-cloud environment is maintained by an outside provider and is limited to that provider’s offerings, which can impact your organization’s ability to respond quickly or adapt all workloads to the requirements of that cloud. 

A multiple-cloud approach is far more agile. It lets you integrate these solutions with the rest of your ecosystem and choose the best offerings for your needs while providing a holistic view of your systems. 

Whether it’s microservices, serverless architecture or platform as a service (PaaS), a multiple-cloud architecture breaks down one large service into smaller, self-contained services and links them to other services via application programming interfaces (APIs). This model in particular has the ability to launch new workloads that are uniquely tailored to the platform it is ideally suited for, meaning those mission critical executions get done faster and with more control. 

2. Seamlessness

Most companies adopting a single cloud also have to maintain an existing infrastructure comprising various applications, data warehouses and operational systems. As an organization grows and adds platforms to its infrastructure, it gradually becomes an ecosystem of fragmented silos that can’t be accessed centrally. In just a few years, managing these heterogeneous workloads can add unnecessary complexity for IT.

Shifting to a multiple-cloud infrastructure allows you to select the cloud option that best suits each application and provides users centralized access to multiple ecosystems. With seamless visibility and computing between environments, IT can also respond faster to users’ requests.

Integrating more than one cloud provider allows you to take advantage of the best benefits of each and to negotiate best prices. In fact, a Gartner survey of public cloud users revealed 81 percent of companies do just that. This approach also helps organizations avoid vendor lock-in, which means lower switching or legal costs in the future and fewer technical constraints.

To ensure your ecosystems perform as unified infrastructure, make sure to select a cloud migration services provider that can move your critical applications and databases to the cloud efficiently. There is a difference between running multiple clouds and running a multi-cloud system: The latter is more cohesive and efficient, and your provider should know the difference. Don’t forget to choose a provider with the technical expertise you lack in-house.

3. Reduced capital expenditures

If reducing capital expenditures (CAPEX) is one of your priorities, a multiple cloud strategy could be part of the answer.

When you move to a single-cloud, you can reduce CAPEX dramatically as it eliminates the need for adding new hardware. Single-cloud consumption costs can then be treated as operating expenses. Meanwhile, when you choose a pay-per-use multiple-cloud model, you automatically reduce your financial commitment to what you use. And because you’ll likely outsource to multiple vendors, you’ll be able to negotiate better pricing overall. Who doesn’t want that?

 Another benefit to lowering your CAPEX is having more cash flow for unexpected expenses. What would more cash efficiency mean for your organization? More control, investment opportunities or added competitive edge? A multiple-cloud migration that decreases capital costs can get you there.

 Lastly, with less hardware to manage, and as your organization’s IT needs change, cloud service providers and systems integrators can continue to configure, manage and optimize your infrastructure as needed, allowing administrators to better optimize their time no matter how many clouds you use.

4. Flexibility

When replacing an on-premises infrastructure with a multiple-cloud solution, you gain flexibility. Because workloads and infrastructures are spread across various cloud environments, users can access real-time data anytime, anywhere and across varying devices. 

For businesses operating in a work-from-anywhere culture, this could mean big increases to the bottom line. Employees can reclaim some of their time spent on operational tasks and dedicate more to strategic, revenue-generating work.

5. Faster collaboration

No single vendor dominates the cloud management market, so even the most advanced hybrid or single-cloud environment offers teams a one-dimensional view. Furthermore, minimal and limited application options and functionalities often mean slower response times and less tracking and monitoring across application boundaries. 

In contrast, a multiple-cloud infrastructure offers a centralized workspace where developers can focus on specific services. With visibility into operations across all environments, teams can track all changes made to the application in real time from any location.

This central workspace allows teams to communicate and collaborate quickly, leading to shorter development cycles and faster time to market. Smaller services also mean your teams own the security aspects of the development cycle they’re responsible for, which reduces time spent on predictable tasks, such as compliance. 

How to start running multiple clouds

Whether you’re moving from a simple or complex model to a multiple-cloud environment, start with questions that will ease your transition into a seamless execution. 

What follows isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s relevant for your buying committee to consider.

Determine your needs

No matter your starting point, a cloud consultation with an expert will outline the process from start to finish. Your session should include:

  • How much does your organization rely today on IT systems to help meet its goals?
  • Can your IT department sustain the desired standard of performance?
  • How much do you rely on cloud systems to serve your customers?
  • Which dependencies currently exist between workloads, and where do these workloads currently sit?
  • What data will and won’t be stored in the cloud? 
    • Different users will likely need to access data simultaneously. In this case, you’ll need to choose which cloud provider you’ll use to access the data vs. which one you might use to process and/or visualize it. 
    • If, however, there are files you prefer to make accessible across a local networksuch as proprietary data—or on an existing hybrid cloud, your team should make these distinctions early in the process.
  • Are there key features in another cloud platform that your organization would like to utilize?
  • International Data Corporation reports that by 2022, over 90 percent of businesses worldwide will use a combination of public and private clouds and legacy platforms. What would a perfect multiple-cloud solution look like, and what would it mean to your organization? 
    • Have them list some benefits, including both tangible and intangible.
Assess your challenges

Project management, skill requirements, data governance and data security services are all legitimate areas that should be evaluated by experts with a deep understanding of cloud and data technology. Questions to consider include:

  • Will there be cost savings by implementing a multiple-cloud solution?
  • What’s a reasonable timeline for this move?
  • What technical expertise do you need for a successful migration? 
  • Are there security challenges or risks associated with the transition?
  • Are there compliance issues you need to consider for migration?
  • What’s your budget?
Evaluate multiple-cloud migration service providers

Not every provider can handle multiple-cloud integration, yet almost all companies have a multiple-cloud strategy. Choose your vendor wisely so your transition runs smoothly. Make sure the vendor has:

  • A deep understanding of cloud deployment and maintenance stemming from decades of experience
  • The expertise to show you how to use cloud computing to the fullest
  • Extensive security programs that include data encryption, access control and monitoring
    • These make the cloud more secure than the individual security solutions typically used with on-premise infrastructure. 
  • Customized data, cloud and analytics solutions

Delivering IT services faster with more agility and lower costs is the first step to driving efficiency, growth and innovation. Multiple-cloud adoption can help with this delivery. 

Start running multiple clouds and accelerate your IT services with Pythian. Contact us to get started.

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About the Author

Kumar is an engineering major who found passion and connection in product marketing management in the IT and telecommunications industry. He is an avid learner and certified in a wide array of topics including Digital Business Strategy from MIT Sloan Executive Education, AWS Solutions Architect - Associate, and FinOps Certified Practitioner from the FinOps Foundation. In his spare time, he loves reading comics or cooking.

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