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February 12, 2024
4 Min Read
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Multi-cloud IT strategies are hot. According to a survey by one of our partners on multicloud in the mainstream, 98% of enterprises using public cloud have adopted a multi-cloud infrastructure provider strategy.
Why? A well-executed multi-cloud strategy can reduce or eliminate infrastructure costs, deliver maximum flexibility, free teams to work on higher-value activities, and enhance performance by reducing unplanned outages. Empowering innovators to have access to the right cloud services and products when they need them, regardless of the platform, is more critical than ever.
While the first significant wave of cloud adoption was driven mainly by the opportunity for cost savings, more recent moves to multi-cloud architectures are often caused by a desire for greater innovation. Many organizations are shifting their IT focus from cost savings and operational streamlining to generating revenue and innovation.
Many times, individual business units within organizations exert an increasingly significant influence over technology selections and platforms based on capabilities, functionality, and potential value to the business. This results in the need for organizations to work with multiple cloud platforms.
Multi-cloud deployments can fuel innovation through greater flexibility, broader functionality, and more tailored solutions for specific business needs. By selecting different cloud providers, a business can choose the one with the best offering that provides the highest value.
Yet, unless an organization has a real multi-cloud strategy, simply leveraging different cloud platforms for various business reasons will soon lead to a disconnected, chaotic, one-off, hard-to-manage approach to cloud computing.
Cloud Isn’t a Place; It’s a Pattern.
Having an actual multi-cloud strategy starts with having a solid understanding of why the cloud is different and what it takes to deploy and manage resources in a multi-cloud environment effectively and efficiently.
Too few organizations have taken the time to understand that the cloud is a pattern, not a place.
Early transitions to cloud platforms were often about place -- simply moving resources or processing from on-premises to a remote cloud service to generally keep things the same while saving money. In this view, the cloud is merely another location to provide the same old computing services.
But that perspective doesn’t cut it anymore. Cloud is fundamentally a shift in how organizations consume technology tied to outcome by leveraging modern operating patterns like Infrastructure-as-Code, GitOps, DevOps, ClickOps, and other similar functions. Physical location is more associated with efficient data movement between geos that enable things like GenAI Edge. Cloud solutions should be architected according to design patterns that support elasticity, scalability, modern data platforms and fully automated code release and service deployment.
Real cloud solutions are loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. They should be combined with robust automation to allow engineers to develop against common APIs and should be supported by a Cloud Center of Excellence.
Just as moving an application to the cloud doesn’t mean a company is leveraging cloud correctly, deploying services on multiple clouds doesn’t mean a company has a real multi-cloud strategy.
As organizations start a multi-cloud journey, they need to realize that the cloud is a series of patterns, and how they are created and operated is crucial to success. For engineering and innovation-driven organizations, the cloud immediately equalizes access to features and services for all consumers, enabling easy market expansion and delivery of services and potential services. To be most effective, organizations must adopt different operating patterns to capture new markets or expand existing ones.
It is critical to architect a cloud strategy that creates the right experience for organizations, which also aligns business objectives and outcomes.
Questions to Get Started
The fast way to get started on creating a thorough, multi-cloud strategy (and not just a disorganized jumble of different cloud services) is for organizations to ask themselves the following three questions:
What's the business driver behind a multi-cloud strategy? There may be many reasons an organization is adopting a multi-cloud strategy, such as optimizing for cost efficiency, maximizing business continuity, focusing on innovation and best-of-breed services, regulatory or compliance needs, performance optimization, or customer requirements.
What's the technical value proposition that multi-cloud brings to businesses? Using more cloud platforms requires more effort than selecting one, so organizations need to make sure they understand and quantify the value of supporting multiple clouds from a technical and cost perspective.
How are companies governing and operating multi-cloud? It takes more effort and resources to manage a multi-cloud environment, so organizations should decide how they will do it, rather than simply letting it evolve organically across multiple clouds. Ideally, organizations should define a framework that allows them to manage various diverse environments consistently and collect consistent governance data.
Growing Opportunities Through Multi-Cloud Innovation
The most successful businesses will be the ones that take a proactive approach to architecting, deploying, managing, and governing services and resources across a multi-cloud environment effectively and efficiently.
For most organizations, the future is a multi-cloud future. Using multiple clouds based on business drivers can help organizations innovate and stay ahead of their competition. In addition, using effective cloud patterns can make that process efficient and profitable.
About the Author(s)
Head of Cloud Strategy, CDW
Jim Melton is one of the few technology leaders that has directly developed new and expanded strategic relationships with AWS, Microsoft and Google as well as OEMs, NSIs and numerous emerging cloud-first ISVs for multiple Fortune 200 Companies. Proven leader of high-performance teams with more than 20 years of experience building emerging technology and business development teams. Extensive background in portfolio development, GTM planning, complex solution design, investment planning, and global alliance development leveraging cloud operating patterns and practices.
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