The pandemic has caused many CIOs to re-focus on the “fundamentals” of IT — keeping data assets secure and ensuring the distributed workforce remains productive. However, 60% say they also spend their time on strategic tasks, such as identifying opportunities for business innovation and competitive advantage, according to Foundry’s 2022 State of the CIO.
So, it’s not surprising that 76% of IT leaders surveyed by Foundry say it’s a major issue to balance the fundamental need for operational excellence with strategic priorities like innovation. But here’s the good news: A multi-cloud strategy can help harmonize these efforts.
How multi-cloud accelerates strategic initiatives
IT leaders expect multiple benefits from adopting a multi-cloud architecture such as improved operations, cost optimizations, and greater flexibility, according to Foundry’s 2022 Cloud Computing Study.
Here are five ways to gain business value from adopting a multi-cloud strategy:
1. Best of breed: multi-cloud
The first place to start is with the platform. It is incumbent on enterprises to architect a multi-cloud platform that provides commonality across all clouds. It should be a platform that works across multi-cloud architectures and enables IT to deploy apps and workloads where they most make sense to meet business objectives and application needs. The architecture of this platform basically speaks a common language to ensure workloads or applications will perform across different clouds, the edge, or on premises.
This allows IT teams to place a workload into the best size virtual machine or in a collection of technologies — based on where pricing and resource efficiencies make the most sense. For example, you might like Google Cloud Platform because its architecture aligns with your DevOps team’s artificial intelligence (AI) development, but perhaps another hyperscaler offers better storage pricing for the data used in AI applications.
The underlying platform ensures that organisations can place workloads closest to the resources and technologies they need most. In addition, because many hyperscalers offer technology in different geographical regions, taking advantage of multi-cloud enables enterprises to place specific applications closer to end users. Doing so not only eliminates latency, but also helps businesses adhere to sovereign data rules specific to different countries.
Other advantages of varied workload placement include improved performance, speed, and efficiencies. For example, software development across different clouds can accelerate the production process, while offering flexibility, scalability, and cost effectiveness.
2. Innovate in the cloud
A multi-cloud strategy improves innovation and efficiency by granting easy access to the hottest new technologies on a hyperscaler platform.
It also allows organisations to match the skillsets of their employee base to the right level of technology. That’s because some hyperscalers are more detail focused while others are concentrated on developer usability. You can use both types of cloud to deploy the right technology when you need it as well as technologies that fit your employees’ expertise — if you’re using an underlying platform, which allows for this flexibility.
The right multi-cloud strategy also enables companies to test innovative technologies — such as internet of things and AI — with the ability to easily scale up or down. This means developers can deliver quick wins and fail fast. For example, machine learning (ML) models can be built and trained in an on-premises data center or at the edge, then deployed in the cloud for easier scaling and less expensive storage.
3. Generate opportunities for new products and services
CIOs are increasingly tasked with creating revenue-generation initiatives; 65% say it is now among their top job responsibilities, according to Foundry’s 2022 State of the CIO.
Many hyperscalers provide e-commerce functionality, which can be used as a natural outgrowth of a multi-cloud strategy. For example, organisations can take advantage of a cloud provider’s promotional, merchandising, or product search capabilities to accelerate revenue for the business.
Another benefit is being able to lean on different hyperscalers’ strengths where your teams have gaps. If you’re building a payment platform for a new product, for example, you can take advantage of one cloud provider’s expertise in payment processing, while using another’s low-code development platform.
4. Avoid vendor lock-in
This is the most appealing benefit of a multi-cloud architecture, according to Foundry’s Cloud Computing Study.
Reducing vendor dependencies and total cloud spend are important reasons for a multi-cloud strategy. Just as you can deploy the right cloud for a specific workload, you can also achieve cost optimizations by right-sizing application placements. For example, developers can create revenue-generating apps across multiple services for faster performance and use public cloud to support a single application. The resulting cost savings can be used for other strategic business objectives.
To avoid vendor lock-in, seek an architecture that works across all hyperscalers. This will allow a single application and workload format to be easily moved between hyperscalers (see also Arbitrage below), which will give you the flexibility in workload placement, as well as the leverage you’ll want when it’s time for cloud contract negotiations.
Organisations can also gain business value from cloud arbitrage, thanks to having a multi-cloud strategy.
Cloud vendors offer different compute, storage, and network resources. They also have many pricing models. In addition to avoiding vendor lock-in, having a consistent workload and application format that works across multiple clouds allows you to move your applications to the lowest-cost environment. And that gives you some leverage during contract negotiations.
Also, although many hyperscalers have complicated pricing strategies, they occasionally run promotions. Watch for spot pricing to take advantage of any pricing opportunities.
Critical steps in a multi-cloud strategy
No matter which business-value objective your organisation has prioritised, here are some considerations to keep in mind regarding your multi-cloud strategy.
Take a hard look at IT skillsets. An important attribute is knowledge of the major hyperscalers, including programmers and system administrators who are skilled in each specific platform. This expertise ensures you can make the most of each hyperscaler’s features and offerings.
Adopt an “architectural viewpoint.” Organisations need an architectural function that spans all hyperscalers — basically someone who sees the “forest of the cloud” amid the trees. This person should take an active role in determining the underlying application platform, as well as ways to take advantage of cloud pricing arbitrage.
Strive for consistency. You’ll be able to reduce complexity by using centralized tools and processes, as well as the software foundation for virtual machines and containers across clouds and edge environments. In addition, this consistent use of tools and processes will provide consistent performance, security, costs, and ability to achieve compliance.
Use managed services. Many businesses grapple with skills shortages. If yours is one of them, use cross-cloud management services. For example, VMware helps organisations maximise multi-cloud benefits with an integrated portfolio of services and interoperable technologies — including application modernization, cloud management, cloud infrastructure, security and networking, and end user empowerment. These services help standardize functionality across multiple clouds, while reducing complexity, providing consistency, and boosting performance.
To learn more, visit https://www.vmware.com/solutions/multi-cloud-architecture.html