INSIGHT 06: Adopting Multi-Cloud (Part 1)
In this series “INSIGHT: The Technical Director’s Perspective” I’ll share my years of hands-on experience to demystify the Cloud and help you gain control over your IT roadmap.
Whether you’re stepping into one cloud for the first time, stepping into many all at once or growing from one cloud into multiple, this three-part guide will offer you actionable advice, based on my first-hand experience, to ensure your business successfully adopts and implements a multi-cloud strategy.
The first thing you need to do is assess if a multi-cloud strategy is the right approach for your organisation.
What is Multi-Cloud?
First, let’s get a quick overview of exactly what multi-cloud is: it’s the process of adopting multiple cloud-based services and platforms.
These can be categorised by their service model: Software-as-a-Service, SaaS; Infrastructure-as-a-Service, IaaS; or Platform-as-a-Service, PaaS.
These platforms can also be categorised by their availability: Public, Private or Hybrid.
An example of a multi-cloud scenario for one of our customers sees them using our POD private cloud platform for their critical applications and data. This is then mirrored to AWS public cloud for low cost, resilient cold storage, whilst using an Azure instance for their remote workers based in Australia.
Rather than using one cloud platform for everything, we blended multiple solutions to get the best cost-to-performance ratio for our client. We were also able to adhere to national data compliance laws in Australia by using a locally-hosted Azure instance.
However, multi-cloud isn’t the right strategy for every business.
So, with everyone on the same page about what multi-cloud is, let’s take a look at when it is the right approach:
Should you use Multi-Cloud?
Cloud adoption in businesses has moved beyond the earlier adopter stage. The conversation has moved on from “which cloud should we use” to “how can we get the most from each cloud”.
Enterprises have discovered that choosing a ‘right-fit’ cloud for each task is usually the most efficient method, taking advantage of each cloud’s strengths to minimise risk and costs, whilst simultaneously increasing resiliency and performance.
Forward-thinking enterprises are developing multi-cloud strategies as part of their digital transformation efforts, to harness the power of the various cloud technologies and providers available.
Rather than choosing between public, private or hybrid clouds, organisations are now determining the best way to implement a multi-cloud strategy.
Because it allows for greater flexibility, control and optimisation than singular cloud solutions. In fact, multi-cloud is becoming an increasingly popular choice among enterprises, with RightScale’s annual ‘State of the Cloud’ survey, revealing that organisations now prefer a multi-cloud strategy.
That’s because multi-cloud empowers IT teams. They now have the flexibility to match specific business needs with different solutions, from any provider they choose.
Alternatively, IT can offload this task to a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP can help blend the best platforms together, whilst IT focus on delivering projects that benefit the business instead.
If you have determined that a multi-cloud strategy is right for your business, it’s time to look at how to successfully implement it:
Defining success from Multi-Cloud
Digital transformation requires a certain amount of bravery. Therefore, it shouldn’t just be a buzzword that’s thrown into a yearly agenda. A half-hearted attempt to remain relevant. Digital Transformation is a determination to keep improving your business so that it remains relevant.
The only way to stay at the forefront of your field is to access the latest technology, through methods such as multi-cloud.
Therefore, getting the full support of your business’ board, executive suite and IT department is crucial for a successful digital transformation.
Start with the stakeholders
With everyone working towards the same target—the successful growth of the business through digital transformation—adopting multi-cloud will be an easier transition and deliver a quicker return-on-investment (ROI).
But bringing together different executives with differing priorities is no easy feat. Some are focused on fiscal efficiency. Others are focused on end-user productivity. And few are likely to resist change with a legacy mindset of ‘it’s always been done this way’.
These few are the most difficult to bring on board. Try starting the conversation with questions such as these to generate an open dialogue and create a clear direction:
- What are the strategic, long-term goals and short-term priorities for your business?
- How does the company approach ‘change’? What is the company ethos?
- What are the current issues the organisation faces?
By building a consensus with key stakeholders around these deep-rooted questions, you will experience fewer hurdles on your journey. Everyone will know the objectives of the transformation initiative and why you, as a business, are adopting multi-cloud to solve these challenges.
Agree on the business outcomes
Defining your business outcomes is the first step in defining success. You need to know what business benefits you want from a new approach to IT.
Do you want to move away from large CapEx investments that need to be ‘topped up’ every year or so, and transition into a more predictable OpEx model?
Do you want IT to be more agile? Ultimately becoming a business-leading function, rather than a business-supporting one?
What are the business’ priorities? Lowering the cost of IT? Implementing new features? Business growth?
What are your users requesting? What will your future workforce look like and what will they need to work efficiently?
Identify the roadblocks
What issues and pain points are keeping you from achieving those outcomes?
Where in the lifecycle is IT? What equipment is ‘end of life’ and what contractual obligations are nearing completion?
Then there’s the current versus projected usage and capacity. Is your infrastructure oversubscribed? Are you able to accurately plan for headcount growth? Can your current estate scale-up effectively to meet these demands?
Are you buried under technical debt from ‘bolting-on’ to increase capacity over the years? Has your IT footprint grown too large as a result? Does IT consume too much space, time and power?
These are the ‘gaps’ between where you are now and where you need to be. Addressing these openly and honestly will help you to choose the best solutions for your business. Solutions that help eliminate or mitigate these problems.
After this section, you should have some idea about what you are trying to achieve with Multi-Cloud.
Bringing in other stakeholders to vet and ratify your initial findings, as well as adding to them, should give your business clearly defined goals to aim for, problems to solve and clear metrics to measure success against.
Discuss, agree to and document your findings from this section.
Above all, save a documented file of this conversation to avoid ‘scope-creep’ and keep your business on-track during your upcoming multi-cloud transformation.
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