Managing the Cloud, Part 1: How Cloud Strategies Are Changing
From testing and development environments to full-scale enterprise platforms, cloud computing can now handle almost any business demand. In fact, it is one of the key enables and drivers behind digitization. But where is the cloud trend heading? And what are the challenges of a multi-cloud approach? The first post of this two-part series provides the answers.
The Rise of the Cloud
Cloud computing has truly taken off – and it is easy to see why. The rapidly changing nature of the modern business world demands flexibility and agility. This means that enterprises can no longer afford to make huge financial commitments for lengthy implementation projects only to outgrow their server capacity a few years down the line. They need the freedom to scale up or down, the ability to quickly deploy new solutions, and access to data – anywhere and anytime.
For these reasons, companies are moving more and more parts of their business to the cloud. And they have many options to do so: from infrastructure as a service, where the vendor provides and manages data center and server resources, to software as a service, where the vendor provides the full software stack with ready-to-use apps. The range of possibilities that the cloud offers is now extremely diverse, and there is a wide variety of providers to choose from – each with their own areas of specialization.
Figure 1: The situation at many organizations today.
Mix and Match – Finding the Right Cloud Combination
At present, the majority of enterprises have a core ERP system and many smaller, more focused on-premise solutions and modules. They might have only one or two cloud solutions (see figure 1). But this is starting to change as businesses implement best-of-breed cloud software and services for each application area and rely on multiple cloud providers (see figure 2). In fact, according to a 2017 survey of over 1,000 IT professionals, as many as 85% of enterprises are already pursuing a multi-cloud strategy.
Source: RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report
Figure 2: Application landscapes will become more distributed in the future.
There are good reasons for doing so. Different vendors have different strengths, and with a multi-cloud strategy, businesses can take advantage of this. At the same time, they reduce their reliance on a single provider and avoid vendor lock-in. Multi-cloud can also be used as part of a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity.
Don’t Get Lost in the Clouds
But as cloud environments grow, they also become more difficult to manage. A multi-cloud environment can quickly become a complex landscape with an assortment of applications, vendors, and services. If the numerous clouds are not properly monitored, the IT department will face a number of challenges.
For example, it is important to understand the providers’ security policies. Especially if a company works with sensitive information, it needs to know where its data is being stored as some countries are governed by less strict privacy regulations. Operating multiple clouds also means that IT staff have to keep on top of more patches, updates, and access rights. And it becomes more difficult to gain a clear picture of pricing models and costs as more cloud providers are involved.
Without cloud computing, it is impossible for enterprises to pursue a digitization initiative. However, with diverse options on offer, such as hybrid cloud and multi-cloud, finding the right strategy can be difficult. Moreover, managing a multi-cloud or hybrid landscape can be a demanding task that takes up considerable time and resources – but it doesn’t have to be. Read the next blog post in this series to find out how managed cloud services and IT partners can help you devise a strategy and keep your clouds under control.