I love the cloud. A lot.
You have a business problem? There is a cloud option that will solve it. There are big clouds that do practically everything, like AWS and Azure. And there are specialty clouds that focus on just specific services, like Wasabi cloud storage. And of course, there are even as-a-service cloud-based applications or micro-services that many of us use every day, like Office 365, Dropbox, Concur, and Smartsheet. You probably even have your own private cloud in the data center.
There are a lot of good reasons that the cloud is more ingrained into technology today. Cloud services can allow your business more agility when spinning up new applications and workloads or recovering from a disaster recovery event. A business can also see accounting benefits by categorizing traditional capital expenses (CAPEX) as operational expenses (OPEX).
With all these new benefits that you gain by leveraging these solutions, there are a few extra areas that every business needs to take into consideration when operating in a cloud model:
1. Develop a company cloud policy
The cloud is a beneficial tool because it is so agile and provides near-immediate resources. However, it can be just as easy for a department to consume cloud services while charging it to the company credit card, leading to cloud sprawl or shadow IT. If IT doesn’t know about your new environment, you can bet they aren’t making sure it is being backed up. Also, data protection isn’t included out of the box with many cloud services.
Without a comprehensive company cloud policy, your data might not be secured correctly, leaving vulnerabilities for hackers or exposure to ransomware. This could also potentially place the company in non-compliance with industry regulations.
Bottom line: allowing your end users to bypass IT puts your business at risk and decreases your IT department’s ability to protect and support you.
2. Manage your cloud sprawl
Cloud services accrue costs quickly, especially when you have a lot of them. Having too many services might lead to an overlap of capabilities in certain areas which will result in redundant costs.
Truthfully, some overlap is inevitable. You might be using AWS for your infrastructure and using Wasabi as your cloud storage platform. Obviously, AWS has Glacier for archiving, but you might choose to bring in another potentially lower-cost provider for added resiliency of data locations and regions, or simply because you prefer the service.
Be sure as you engage multiple cloud providers that you are making choices based on business needs and not due to lack of planning or understanding of your existing capabilities. No one should sign a contract with a new vendor just to find out that the same service is already provided through another contract, and it just isn’t being used.
3. Choose a management strategy
The more cloud environments you adopt, the more complex they are to manage, especially since each environment has its own suite of management tools. This is fine when you have a small number of cloud partners, since there are not that many different tools to manage. But as your business onboards with more cloud providers, you should minimize the number of tools in use. It is easy to get lost in the tangle of multiple management methods and very difficult to become proficient in each. Trying to maintain too many of these tools often leads to situations in which important data are not reviewed in a timely manner, potentially increasing costs.
Fortunately, there has been a lot of development in this space. Tools or services like CloudCheckr or Flexera One (formerly Risc Networks) are available for management of multiple clouds. Industry leaders are also developing proprietary solutions to help in this area. For example, VMware Cloud Foundation can manage your on-premises vSphere environment and your VMC instances from one console. Dell APEX and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Greenlake both offer an as-a-service overlay to infrastructure management.
The challenge is less about finding a tool: It’s about determining which one will suit your needs best.
4. Keep data mobility in mind as you onboard new cloud offerings
What is the process to cancel a cloud service contract? What are the ingress and egress charges for a specific provider?
If you have a cloud backup repository and want to change vendors, it might be more cost effective—due to egress changes and other potential micro-charges—to start using the new service and leave the existing one in place until the backups age out.
We live in a multi-cloud world, and it is here to stay. Take the time to evaluate your cloud options and make sure they support your overall IT and business strategy. If you need help, engage an expert. Connection has cloud-focused technical experts, as well as consultants who can assist you with strategic planning.