Cloud sprawl leading to out-of-control costs and security breaches

The trend for multicloud infrastructure shows no signs of slowing down as enterprises adopt multiple cloud platforms to access greater choices, innovate faster and get an edge over the competition – but they still have some way to go on their journeys.

Multicloud means using cloud services from more than one cloud vendor. It encompasses using software as a service (SaaS) and enterprises managing their own instances of applications on public and private clouds.

The freedom of choice and ability to utilize emerging technologies and differentiated services are big motivators for buying into the multicloud journey, despite its deployment challenges, including complexity, skills drought, cost control, governance, compliance and security concerns.

According to a recent report, 89% of enterprises have a multicloud strategy, and 80% are taking a hybrid approach by combining public and private clouds. The top reason enterprises are adopting multiclouds is access to vendor-specific capabilities. These can be best-of-breed services on one platform that surpass competing offerings or may mean integration with on-premise software that runs business-critical workloads, according to 451 Research.

Currently, an estimated 76% of organizations use more than one public cloud vendor for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and 39% use at least three clouds, demonstrating the prevalence of the multicloud approach.

However, it is important to note that many enterprises are still at the beginning of their cloud journeys, and IDC estimates that only 2% of companies in Europe have 100% of their workloads in the public cloud. Only 11% have a cloud-first strategy, and 38% say they take a balanced approach to the public cloud and on-premises.

The landscape, however, is changing fast. IDC forecasts that by 2023, over 40% of European organizations have outdated operational models with cloud-centric models that facilitate, as opposed to hobbling, organizational collaboration, resulting in better business outcomes.

Getting multicloud right

Multicloud is pivotal to a digital future, and enterprises are building up their cloud estates accordingly to tap into best-of-breed capabilities from vendors to drive a competitive edge. But multicloud requires a robust strategy, detailed planning and commitment, as IT needs to handle multilayer business applications in a complex and dynamic environment. This is without managing the additional cost and skills profile necessary to go cloud-native.

Getting it right is not as easy as it sounds, and enterprises face some big hurdles. These include security, managing cloud spend and a lack of in-house resources and expertise in strategy.

In response, CIOs must look beyond the technology and select the right cloud providers, cloud operating models, and architecture to fulfill business requirements now and into the future. According to Carla Arend, Lead Cloud Analyst in Europe at IDC, they also need to ensure a proficient cultural change program for the enterprise and develop in-house skills to address the shortage.

“Organizations have realized that the easy way into the cloud does not exist. A simple lift and shift but not changing the organizational model will not get you where you want to be or take the full benefits of cloud,” explains Avendi. “They also need to look at cloud not only as a technological transformation, but also as an accelerator for cultural change that needs to happen in the organization. If they don’t, they are likely to be disappointed.”

One of the big issues is that the move to multicloud has happened in an ad hoc fashion and isn’t an intentional one. To capitalize on multicloud, enterprises need to turn their vision into a controlled and highly visible reality. If they don’t, they will end up with an expensive, uncontrolled cloud sprawl.

Wasted cloud spending is an ongoing issue

Wasted cloud spending is an ongoing issue for many enterprises and is becoming acute as cloud costs rise. A recent survey found that enterprises waste one-third of their budgets on under-used or unused cloud resources. These include over-provisioning of or idle resources and excessive centralization, for example.

A cloud value map can help enterprises to review their cloud usage and assess if business benefits are being realized. By analyzing operational usage, enterprises can see where cloud is working in terms of business benefits and where spend can be cut. Cloud management tools also enable enterprises to manage their multicloud services and resources more efficiently. They can identify areas of waste and highlight where it can be suspended or shut down via automation.

Security issues are a growing worry

Multicloud, by its very nature, expands the threat vista. According to a report by Check Point, 27% of enterprises had a public cloud-related security incident in 2021, up from 10% in 2020. Misconfigurations are the primary reason, followed by data or files shared inappropriately by a user and account compromise. Lack of qualified staff, compliance, and little or no visibility into infrastructure security were cited as the biggest operational security headaches.

Currently, 80% of respondents said they find it increasingly complex and challenging to configure their enterprise’s cloud security policies across separate security solution dashboards. A single window dashboard that allows them to govern and audit the complete multicloud data environment is a way forward for these IT teams.

More and more enterprises are also deploying zero-trust data protection, which demands that all users inside and outside the enterprise network be authenticated, authorized and continually validated before accessing applications and data.

“Zero trust is a way of thinking, not a specific technology or architecture,” explains Neil MacDonald, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.

There are several best practices that enterprises are adopting to secure their multicloud estates, including automating patching to reduce the human risk factor, utilizing different security policies for different services, establishing a secure monitoring strategy that consolidates alerts and events in one location, for example, and installing a single point of control to manage all applications and data security across clouds.

Multicloud is the future

In providing enterprises with the freedom to choose the best cloud for each of their workloads, multicloud really is a no-brainer. But don’t expect multicloud to deliver if you don’t strategize right. This means looking carefully at your business needs and the vendor capabilities that align with them now – and into the future. It means having the confidence that your applications and data are as secure as they can be.

For every successful multicloud deployment, there is a sound plan behind it. This formula will never change.

Whether you’re planning to expand your single-cloud network and leverage services from multiple cloud providers in the future or are already doing so without a clear strategy in place, we can help you get on the right track with your multicloud journey. Find out more here.

Jan Howells

Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.