For a growing number of enterprises, a migration to the cloud is not a simple matter of deploying an application or two onto Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or some other hosted service. It’s a multi-cloud strategy that’s a key part of a digital transformation initiative aimed at modernizing business processes.
Deploying a multi-cloud strategy can lead to substantial benefits.
Using multiple cloud computing services such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS) in a single heterogeneous architecture offers the ability to reduce dependence on any single vendor, says Brian Reynolds, principal with audit and advisory firm Grant Thornton.
It can also improve disaster recovery and data-loss resilience, make it easier to exploit pricing programs and consumption/loyalty promotions, help companies comply with data sovereignty and geopolitical barriers, and enable organizations to deliver the best available infrastructure, platform, and software services, Reynolds says.
“Cost optimization is a huge benefit,” says Glenn Pinnel, CIO at paint producer Benjamin Moore & Co., which moved to a cloud-first strategy several years ago and has never looked back. “It’s not so much that you are spending less by going multi-cloud, but rather you are managing risk far better.”
Having multiple clouds “makes you more flexible and agile, allows for the adoption of best-of-breed technologies, and provides far better disaster recovery,” Pinnel says. “By not being ‘locked in’ to one vendor, we have the flexibility to run certain applications in a private environment, and others in a public environment, while keeping everything connected. Our cloud service providers have the right skill sets to make this all happen so that we don’t have to maintain this expertise in house.”
Like any other major IT initiative, ensuring an effective multi-cloud strategy involves having the right people and tools in place, and taking the necessary steps to keep the effort aligned with business goals. Here are some best practices around this rising trend, according to IT executives and industry experts.
Perform due diligence
A multi-cloud deployment adds complexities that require organizations to develop a deep understanding of the services they’re buying and to perform due diligence before plunging ahead, says Donald Faatz, security solutions engineer in the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Due diligence includes planning. “Use a cloud adoption framework to provide a governing process for identifying applications, selecting cloud providers, and managing the ongoing operational tasks associated with public cloud services,” Faatz says. “Educate all staff on the cloud adoption framework and the details of using selected CSPs’ [cloud service providers] architecture, services, and tools available to assist in the deployment.”