Managing multicloud infrastructure is key to reducing time to market

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Enterprises have long woken up to the benefits of using the cloud to deliver services to customers and users. As a result, the number of different cloud services, including infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-service (SaaS) hasve multiplied, allowing enterprises to choose the ones that suit their needs the best. The big challenge, however, is managing the cloud sprawl as this trend for multicloud services gathers momentum.

It wasn’t that long ago that infrastructure was everything. But simply keeping the lights on is still a costly and resource-hungry task and doesn’t bring many business benefits. This is why we are seeing a big shift to the consumption of cloud services – ranging from platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and database-as-a-service (DBaaS) to cognitive and machine learning (ML) services. Consuming these services from the cloud, instead of installing them internally on infrastructure, makes practical and economic sense in terms of deployment and upkeep.

The move away from traditional infrastructure is primarily down to cost considerations, complexity and management issues. Exasperation with the limitations of infrastructure and its rigidity have also added to the challenge of accommodating the swift business changes necessary in a fluid digital economy.

Enterprises can now avoid the upfront costs and complexity of owning and maintaining a sprawling infrastructure. IaaS lets enterprises purchase resources on-demand and as-needed, from networking and storage to computing power. But along with the benefits, they must not forget the management complexities involved.

According to analyst firm IDC, 77% of enterprises now have at least one application or portion of their infrastructure in the cloud, and this trend is growing fast. In addition, 76% of enterprises are looking to cloud apps and platforms to accelerate their IT service delivery to get to market faster, the aim being to bring greater agility and flexibility and enable faster reactions to continually changing market conditions.

Bringing multicloud into the equation

Forrester Research estimates that 86% of enterprises have now adopted a cloud strategy, with enterprises using between four and five clouds. Often, multicloud computing with multiple cloud services from multiple suppliers is set up in a disorganized and ad hoc way. To achieve the business agility they want, enterprises need to work towards creating an organized, consistent and overarching multicloud strategy.

Enterprises opt to go multicloud for a variety of reasons: it avoids vendor lock-in, they can have clouds specifically for dev-ops or data projects, or they may need to deploy different clouds to conform to legal requirements in specific markets. It can also be the result of various departments starting to work on different platforms or cloud providers. One of the key benefits is that it provides enterprises with the flexibility to innovate quickly, minimizing time to market. The reason being that it does not restrict the enterprise to services offered by one individual cloud provider. With multicloud, enterprises can choose the best platform for its their workflow and development projects, which meet the requirements of specific applications, for example.

Multicloud requires a management re-think

If an enterprise simply carries out a lift- and- shift cloud migration, it will see few benefits. If enterprises want to make a real difference to business performance by adopting multicloud, they must change the way they view IT and consume new services such as container-as-a-service (CaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or function-as-a-service (FaaS). To do this, however, they need a robust multicloud strategy, skilled people, a cloud- ready profile, and so forth are required.

Transitioning an IT infrastructure to cloud is no small task. With multicloud, it is important to understand that you need a clear strategy to target the best solutions, manage the security risks, streamline DevOps factories and the cloud profile and competencies to deal with each provider. It is difficult for enterprises to have all these skills in-house, skills that can streamline operations, manage IT services and track the innovations of different cloud providers. With IDC predicting that 30% of vacancies in emerging technologies will stay unfilled through 2022, this is set to be a major hurdle.

Skills gap

A partner to help with the complexities

The complexities associated with multicloud make it a major challenge, which is where multicloud management service providers come in. Multicloud demands the management of multiple contracts, strong governance in creating service catalogs and a single portal to manage the multicloud estate. By using the skills of a third party for this, enterprises can focus their resources on supporting company business instead of spending valuable time managing cloud service providers.

Cloud providers do offer their own management platforms, but these are very much centered around their own services. IT departments end up managing several interfaces, which makes it costly, time-consuming and difficult to troubleshoot any issues arising.

Each cloud migration enterprise case is different, but the truth is that few have the in-house resources or skills to optimize a multicloud strategy. This is where the business value of a partner comes in. Orange Business Services, for example, offers an a la carte approach whereby enterprises can pick and choose the services they require to ensure they are getting the maximum benefits from multicloud. These include strategy planning, assessments and a full set of industrialized services.

Orange can also help DevOps teams to get up to speed on cloud services and support customers with cloud management platforms.

Overcoming the cloud hurdles

Historically, IaaS providers have not supported interoperability standards that make it easier to move workloads between their own platforms and other clouds, despite work by standards bodies such as the Open Cloud Consortium. So some specifics, such as certification and certain technical requirements, may be required. There are transitional ways of working, such as the container environment, which is vendor-agnostic, for example. There are also tools available that support platform migration to different clouds.

Compliance and security are also difficult to manage when data is spread across multiple clouds. Each cloud provider may have a different policy, which must be carefully managed to reduce risk. In addition, the governance of the cloud services’ management should be aligned with the enterprise’s security rules.

Multicloud has a bright future

The concept of multicloud is maturing rapidly as the quickest direct route to market. Enterprises are fast realizing they don’t have to get everything from one vendor but can mix and match to reach their business goals. But to achieve this, they may have hundreds of cloud services to manage within a multicloud solution with no common direction. That is a massive task and one where engaging an expert partner makes both economic and business sense for shaping the road and bringing efficiency and security in operations.

To find out how cloud can reduce your time to market, download our brochure: Accelerate Your Time to Market.

Alexis Dupuydauby

Alexis Dupuydauby has been working on IT consultancy, strategy and governance and product management for more than 20 years. He has developed several cloud offerings, including IaaS, PaaS, Big Data and Professional Services practices. He’s currently leading the multi-cloud practice within Orange Cloud for Business.

At night, he usually switches from a computer keyboard to a piano keyboard or a guitar neck.