No single cloud vendor has the perfect solution for your unique business situation. The only way to maximize the benefits of cloud services to your business is by dealing with several cloud providers and monitoring all of them simultaneously. That’s the IT equivalent of singing an aria while standing on your head and scrambling eggs. (Not really, but it can seem that way.)
Here are 12 things to keep in mind when planning your company’s multi-cloud strategy:
- Map your entire network, and then identify where the cloud fits in it. Get a clear picture of the cloud’s role in your overall system-management strategy to avoid having to backfill gaps in the data needs of business managers and other customers. Different lines of business will be best served by different cloud providers.
- Work with vendors that respond quickly and positively to the unexpected. There will always be unforeseen situations when you’re stitching together multiple cloud services. Your partners should report regularly on the state of their services, enhancements, and new features.
- Automate low-level monitoring and maintenance tasks. Two primary reasons for adopting cloud services are cost savings and more efficient operations. One way to achieve both is by reducing the amount of human oversight required to keep your systems humming.
The potential complexity of multi-cloud management is shown in this flowchart encompassing the many elements that need to be stitched together precisely. Many of these low-level operations must be automated to optimize your strategy. Source: Carl P. Lehrmann, 451 Research
- Follow your users. Pay close attention to how the “consumers” of your apps and systems are actually putting the tools to use. They are the best indicators of which processes are the biggest productivity boosters. You can also learn about any new services the users discover that help them get their work done faster, more efficiently and/or less expensively. This lets you get a jump on the kinds of tools the users are most likely to need in the future.
- Double down on cost controls. You can’t control what you can’t see. Dealing with multiple vendors complicates the process for requisitioning new services. To avoid unnecessary impediments to quick implementation of useful new services, devise a purchasing process that is as flexible as the services themselves. However, not long after the service honeymoon period, evaluate whether each new service is proving to be worth the cost and whether there are better and/or less-expensive alternatives.
- Application life cycle continues to dictate cloud migration. Data centers may be shrinking, but they are definitely not disappearing. For reasons related to security, compliance, insurance, and any number of other factors, some systems are staying in house for the foreseeable future. You certainly want to avoid attempting to lift and shift an in-house app to a cloud service, particularly one that is only a couple years old and thus hasn’t yet paid for itself. Once an older system is ready for a reinvention, it’s easier to make a business case for going cloud-native.
- Take advantage of the power of pre-emptable virtual machines. Because they persist for no longer than 24 hours, pre-emptable VMs are a good choice for batch processing and fault-tolerant deployments, according to ComputerWeekly’s Matthew Cooter in a November 2016 article. Pre-emptable VMs are as much as 80 percent less expensive than Google’s regular instances, and their fixed price help companies plan and manage their costs.
- Adopt an integrated data center management system designed for virtual environments. This is the only way to ensure your server, storage, network, security, operations and applications teams are working as a single unit toward common goals, according to Jay Litkey, president and founder of cloud service provider Embotics, in a November 21, 2016, article in Virtual Strategy magazine. Any organization structured around traditional physical infrastructure boundaries is destined to struggle with the shift to hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
- Identify the apps in your organization that are best suited to cloud-native implementation. Traditional apps are monolithic, run as VMs, use a scale-up architecture and are generally more difficult to develop, deploy and maintain. By contrast, cloud-native apps are more modular and service-oriented, comprised of collections of containers and services, based on a scale-out architecture, and easy to automate, move, and scale.
Focus on the apps in your organization that will benefit most from a cloud-native approach, and wait on those that are better served by deployment on a traditional data-center platform. Source: TechTarget
- Match your apps to the services that play to their strengths. Big-name services such as VMware and AWS have bifurcated to meet the diverse needs of their customers. For example, VMware’s vSphere-based Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is intended for traditional apps, and the company’s Native Hybrid Cloud is designed for modular, microservice-based systems. Similarly, AWS’s Elastic Compute Cloud, Elastic Block Store, EFS file system and VPC private networks mimic in-house data centers, while the company also supports higher-level services such as NoSQL databases, BI processing, Hadoop-like clusters, message queues, push notification services, media transcoders and search engines.
- Automate policy across cloud environments. The only efficient approach to use of multiple cloud services is to have a single standard for policies that are applied automatically to each environment. The policies cover such areas as virtual servers, workloads, data storage, traffic flows, compliance/regulation, reporting and security. It’s also easier to apply updates and changes when you have a single configuration across different infrastructures because the changes propagate seamlessly from environment to environment.
- Vendor lock-in becomes a thing of the past. When you rely solely on one public cloud service, it can be difficult to migrate virtual machines and other resources to another service. Among the factors to consider are comparable read/write loads, data transfer needs and network latency. By relying instead on your custom combination of cloud services, all of which share policies and configurations, you find yourself managing the change instead of the change managing you.