The pandemic has stepped up the momentum on multicloud adoption but without a strategy, enterprises will lose the opportunity to harness its potential for innovation.
Cloud is the new normal for enterprise IT in the new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled even the fence-sitters to quickly adopt cloud as almost all aspects of businesses and operations and new ways of working, schooling, and shopping are now conducted online. For many, there has been little choice but to shift workloads to cloud driven by the need for speed, responsiveness to customer needs, and scale to survive disruption. As the foundation technology for digital transformation, cloud is proving to be vital for enterprises to stay in the game.
As cloud adoption accelerates, multicloud architectures are most likely to dominate the post-pandemic scenario. The trend to multicloud—that is, the use of two or more cloud services from two or more providers—is not new.
Gartner had predicted in 2019 that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy.
And in a Gartner survey of public cloud users the same year 81% of respondents said they were working with two or more providers. IDC too had concluded that 2021 would be the year of the multicloud and that by 2022, more than 90 percent of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises or dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs.
Hybrid vs Multicloud
First, let’s take a step back and distinguish between hybrid and multicloud. Both involve a private and public clouds. There are varying definitions out there in the market. However, simply put, a hybrid cloud architecture is a subset of multicloud and involves a mix of private cloud (on-premise) and public cloud with the possibility of moving data between them. A multicloud model is a mix of clouds ( private, public and on-premise) from different cloud providers and SaaS providers where there is no exchange or integration of data between the different cloud environments.
In a hybrid cloud, for example, an enterprise can carry out a specific task using resources from two separate private clouds or in a mix of private and public clouds. This model could work for a business with on-premise data centre that suddenly needs to expand and manage resources in a private cloud and requires to move back to on-premise when the business need changes. A hybrid cloud model is multicloud but not the other way around, although a multicloud environment could get hybridized.
A multicloud model simply means a model with multiple clouds. These could be on-premises data centres, private clouds, and public clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform™, and SaaS applications.
In a sense, most companies are already operating with multicloud models as they run on-premise DCs, leverage Amazon AWS for front-end applications, run an application on Microsoft or use a SaaS application and run ERP on SAP. The business justification and security concerns don’t allow sharing of data between the clouds.
The rising multicloud trend
Even before COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of multicloud was driven by containers and orchestration with Kubernetes—which is a portable, extensible, open-source platform for managing containerized workloads.
Cloud native technologies such as containers and Kubernetes reduce complexity and make it possible to easily run and manage the same applications consistently in any environment. Other cloud native technologies such as microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds, says the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. These technologies along with AI and machine learning are defining the modern world of software development and help you fully exploit the potential of cloud.
Against this backdrop of technology changes and the pandemic-induced switch to digitalization, it’s time to look beyond the conventional reasons for adopting multicloud. While the benefits of mitigating risk, optimising costs and enabling scalability are the main drivers, enterprises must see opportunities for innovation with multicloud.
View multicloud with an innovation lens
The flexibility that multicloud enables in using private and public cloud for varying needs of a business is also one of its biggest attractions. A multicloud setup means that businesses can choose the cloud service that is best suited to their needs and change the provider or the architecture when the business need evolves.
In other words, multicloud enables innovation. The pandemic imperatives have already shown that multicloud isn’t only about cost optimization or scalability. It is about speed. How fast can you bring new features to market, how quicky can you respond to unprecedented fluctuations in demand, how do you manage business continutiy, create new customer experiences? The answer lies in innovation. Only cloud-enabled enterprises or the elasticity of cloud native approaches (such as microservices) can help you innovate at speed.
As AI, edge technology, 5G and IoT evolve rapidly, transforming industries and driving new data-based business models, the need for cloud will keep rising. But to grasp the potential for innovation in multicloud, enterprises must have a well-considered strategy aligned to future readiness and possibly designed to get the best out of cloud with cloud-native solutions.
Multicloud strategy: Minimize complexity and maximize innovation
Moving to multicloud is challenging and complex and can rapidly get to be an operational cost burden if not managed properly. Multicloud needs strategy. But as the pandemic forced unprecedented rate of technology spend, multicloud adoption only exacerbated the tendency of enterprise silos to simply adopt different clouds for different reasons, creating wasteful overlaps. Multicloud, for many, was just something that happened—randomly over a period of time and hurriedly during the pandemic. And now they struggle with managing cost and usage.
A multicloud strategy must therefore focus on corporate governance to keep costs within the IT budget. Governance is all the more important because identifying who bought what and used how much of the cloud can be an exercise in futility in very large organizations. The IT c-suite must clearly define cost governance and cost optimization and set guidelines on how these will be practiced.
Security and privacy are the other main components of a multicloud strategy. Security has always been a major concern for enterprises, often deterring them from moving to cloud. In a multicloud provider environment, universal compliance needs to be ensured and additional securities policies may need to be build—for which you need complete visibility to all that is happening in each cloud and at the edge.
The lack of skilled resources is a common roadblock experienced by many enterprises on their multicloud journey. Large teams are needed to manage and monitor 24/7. Both the pre and post-migration support needs can be beyond the scope of most organization’s budgets and capabilities. They will need to figure out what cloud-native skills they will need to invest in or look to extend their teams externally.
How Innominds can help
Given that the corporate governance, security, operations and privacy needs are critical to managing and getting the best business value out of multicloud environments, enterprises should do two things—design a multicloud strategy that will enable their IT spend to add business value and secondly, reach out to Digital Next software engineering companies like Innominds.
Our cloud professionals can help you with the right mix of technology and applications. Innominds assesses your current cloud maturity ( be it on-prem, on one cloud or hybrid) and provide guidance on adopting multicloud models, draw up a migration plan and help you execute your workloads (Infrastructure, Applications, Storage, and Database) in line with your multi-cloud strategy. We help enterprises monitor and optimize their environment through right-sizing, autoscaling, automation and cost reduction.