Multi-Cloud Strategies: The Recipe for Successful Business Transformation

By: Abhishek Bhattacharya, Vice President, Sapient Global Markets

While the benefits offered by cloud today have the potential to drive businesses, the technology also introduces a set of risks, especially for a business that counts on a single provider. For most, partnering with a single cloud provider may fall short in mitigating risk, optimally supporting diverse systems and data, and addressing regulatory requirements.  

While building and executing a cloud strategy, the most important task is not selecting a service provider, but crafting and operationalising a multi-cloud strategy around all possible needs; this is one of the most important factor on which the ultimate success shall depend. This strategy enables one to take the best out of what each cloud offers, reduces the vendor lock-in and also provides more opportunities for optimization.     

A multi-cloud strategy empowers businesses to realize the full promise of cloud by offering true flexibility to scale, improve performance, and minimize costs. As organisations continue embracing the benefits of cloud computing, the imperative to work with more than one provider is increasingly inevitable.        

A recent study conducted by IDC found that 86 percent of enterprises will require a multi-cloud strategy to support their business goals within the next two years. According to a recent survey of more than 650 IT decision-makers, 77% of businesses plan to leverage multi-cloud strategies.               

When an organisation relies on a single provider, it loses an opportunity to plug into a truly fit-for-purpose cloud infrastructure, while hampering agility and flexibility over the long term. Further, using one provider can also be at odds with the regulatory requirements. A multi-cloud strategy is transformative for businesses and the right partners can mean a pain-free transition so businesses can make the most of the advantages it offers.

A multi cloud strategy muse address the four pillars:

Provider Selection:  

With each cloud platform having distinct strengths, it becomes important to form a clear decision making criteria for when one can choose a particular provider.  It is imperative for each organisation to figure out a platform that is fit for a particular purpose — whether combining cloud and on-premise hosting, meeting data protection and privacy requirements of a certain country or leveraging a massively scalable platform to manage big data. It is better to take a long-term view when migrating to any provider, since it becomes hugely difficult to move away from a selected platform post migration.   

Sourcing:

Far from a one-time exercise, sourcing multi-cloud is an ongoing journey. Organisations must regularly work to stay on top of the complexity, negotiate the best pricing and predict costs over time.

With prices that vary not only from provider to provider but also with a single provider, cloud pricing can seem much more complicated than rocket science. There is a probability that rates can be higher or lower for some data centres, and a growing trend points to time-of-day pricing. Those variables pose a big challenge when working with a single provider and can get even more daunting when managing more than one providers. And yet, getting control over pricing is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, an organisation might end up spending much more on cloud as compared to on-premise solutions.  

Deployment and Delivery

Every cloud platform shares some commonalities but they also differ in subtle ways, which must be understood and addressed. When building a multi-cloud strategy, it is extremely important to consider staffing and training requirements. A team entirely dedicated to deployment and delivery is required for each platform. At the same time, a Multi-Cloud Center of Excellence can serve as a complement— strengthening expertise and standardizing processes as much as possible across all providers.

Operations

After migrating on-prem application to cloud platforms, it is imperative that these application are continuously monitored. For this purpose, an organisation can rely on a federated model based on each provider’s monitoring capabilities, or it can centralize monitoring using third-party tools that span all of the cloud platforms.

Further, a business should work towards a strategy to know till what extent it will be able to integrate across its cloud platforms. Again, the key decision is centralizing versus federating—with most organisations needing to do some of each.

Cloud sourcing cannot be a set-and-forget activity. As part of day-to-day operations, an organisation must ensure strong, ongoing IT-procurement collaboration on multi-cloud cost optimization.

Is just switching to multi-cloud enough?

Success comes not merely from migrating to cloud or even migrating to multiple cloud platforms. Success comes through each organisation’s hard work in designing and operationalising how it uses each platform to accelerate innovation, drive operational efficiency and enable new services and insights—for the business and for its customers.

While more and more businesses are switching to multi cloud strategies, it is also important for these organisations to be ready to deal with the additional complexities that come along with this transition. Be it the limited time, ever-contracting budgets or reduced staffing levels, organisations should start by building a proactive and pragmatic multi-cloud strategy, so as to make sure that such business transformation initiatives are successful.

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