Multi-cloud becomes the norm

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Enterprises have recognized the importance of cloud and are now maturing their strategies, according to industry analyst reports and surveys.

The recent RightScale 2017 state of the Cloud Report (http://www.rightscale.com/lp/2017-state-of-the-cloud-report) details that Hybrid and multi-cloud strategies are now the order of the day. However, in the same report, enterprises have voiced concerns that the lack of cloud migration, operation expertise and cloud security concerns are preventing them from migrating their IT services and applications to a hybrid and multi-cloud platform

During the last ITxpo Symposium in October 2016, Gartner shared that cloud computing is of greater strategic value to large enterprises than ever before. IT modernization and the digital transformation of enterprises were also highlighted as the top reasons for enterprises to consider public cloud services.

Furthermore, enterprises are increasingly connecting multiple public cloud platforms to their private cloud. This is evident from RightScale’s 2017 State of the Cloud survey which surveyed more than 1,000 professionals. The survey found that 85% of companies now have a multi-cloud strategy, which is up from 82% in 2016. Conversely, the adoption of a single private-cloud environment among enterprises fell from 77% in 2016 to 72% in 2017.

Multi-cloud deployments offer clear benefits

”Multi-cloud strategy makes sense for organizations”, says Derrick Loi, senior director for Orange Data Centre and Cloud, Asia Pacific, at Orange Business Services. “Increasingly, we’re seeing that there is no one-size fits all cloud solution for enterprises. Each enterprise has their own challenges and unique business DNA that makes them unique. As such, even when it comes to private cloud, Orange Business Services provides multiple customized options that a client can choose from. This ensures that the client is able to maximize the benefits of cloud through engaging Orange Business Services”.

There are many benefits for enterprises to deploy multi-cloud solutions.  For example, a multi-cloud solution can free the enterprise from a single cloud vendor lock-in situation.  Multi-cloud provides flexible data storage options for enterprises facing data sovereignty and privacy compliance issues.

Enterprises can also save costs in a multi-cloud environment by migrating their cloud infrastructure such as compute and storage between multiple clouds depending on the price point.

A multi-cloud strategy also offers more resilience to enterprises. Armed with a multi-cloud strategy, enterprises are no longer forced to rely on a single cloud provider. Instead, they can now dynamically adjust their workloads and route it between the different public clouds when encountering performance issues or outages in a particular public cloud platform.

The journey to a multi-cloud strategy

The journey to a mature multi-cloud environment involves detailed planning and analysis of the enterprise business and IT services. Since, enterprise application portfolios are complex, a single migration approach rarely fits all applications. For this reason, enterprises should build a layered strategy that supports each cloud service as required.

“Orange Business Services takes into account multiple parameters when assessing whether an enterprise’s application is more suitable to operate in a private or public cloud environment”, explains Loi.

“First, we look at data privacy and compliance requirements,” he says, explaining that business may need to store sensitive data on premise in the enterprise’s own private cloud for compliance reasons.

“Next, we analyze the workloads. DevOps and archival workloads are prime candidates for public clouds. For workloads where the bulk of the transactions are happening on-premises, a private cloud would be more suitable.”

”The situation is often more complicated in a multi-tiered infrastructure environment. For example, in situations where the enterprise’s branch offices need to connect to their regional data centers”, he says.  In such cases, a virtual private cloud, which amalgamates local computing resources with Orange’s own infrastructure, will be a good fit.

Enterprises should pursue this multi-layered migration strategy in small steps. Gartner recommends that such enterprises migrate applications to the cloud one workload at a time. ‘Learn as you go.’ is the mantra. Enterprises trying to manage a company-wide migration at once will risk facing many obstacles and failures in their migration attempts.

The migration design team should choose cloud-native application architectures, and when possible enable the enterprise to get the most from the cloud computing environment.  “We look at five options for migrating applications to the cloud as part of the portfolio that we offer to our customers,” says Loi:

Rehost: This is the simplest option. This option requires software redeployment to a cloud-based platform without modification to the software’s code.

Refactor: Some applications may benefit from a cloud service provider’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution. Enterprise can develop artificial intelligence (AI) and/or blockchain functionality on the platform. This would involve changing the application’s code to access these services via cloud APIs.

Revise: Legacy applications might not have been designed originally to operate in cloud environments requiring more extensive code revision to facilitate the movement of legacy applications into the cloud. Hence, this will require the refactoring program to leverage on PaaS APIs. This will prepare the legacy applications for simple rehosting in a cloud environment.

Rebuild: Some applications may be so ill-fitted for a cloud environment that the best option will be to rebuild them from scratch using PaaS tools in the cloud. Examples may include applications running on legacy hardware and operating systems. “Replatforming to X86 is probably necessary,” as Loi points out.

Replace: In some environments, existing cloud-based options may map close enough to the existing software’s functional specification, making rebuilding unnecessary. “You might want to replace it by procuring SaaS in the cloud,” says Loi.

A cloud ready application takes full advantage of the administrative capabilities that a cloud environment can offer.

The beauty of a cloud infrastructure is that it allows enterprise to provision infrastructure through codes. Infrastructure as code enables the cloud operations team to configure workloads quickly and recover from performance issues and outages.

In an ideal cloud migration, administrators can manage the application’s performance wherever it is hosted. Public and private cloud deployments should be equally capable in reporting performance and manipulating application data. This requirement may seem daunting in a multi-cloud environment, but an experienced cloud services broker such as Orange Business Services can help to unite the management tasks behind a single cloud administration console.

The path to a multi-cloud environment may be difficult to navigate, but the rewards are worth the effort. Enterprises that build their multi-cloud environment right can create an infrastructure that is tailored to each workload and thereby achieve efficient and resilient application performance. Hybrid, multi-cloud environments are the norm of the future. Therefore, Enterprises should be proficient in deploying multi-cloud today - and prepare their business for the challenges that tomorrow brings.

Download our cloud ebook Create a cloud experience your business can depend on’  to find out more about moving to multi-cloud and overcoming the most common cloud challenges.

 

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been writing about technology since 1989. He covers consumer and enterprise technology subjects for a variety of publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times and Canada's National Post.