For small-to-medium businesses, moving toward cloud solutions for hosting applications, storing data, and powering your business offers significant benefits. Yet as your strategy increasingly focuses on the cloud, you may find yourself navigating “multi-cloud” environments.
You may have organically realized that you’re operating in a multi-cloud environment, or it might be time to adopt a wider range of solutions and develop a more complex cloud infrastructure. If you’re supporting a multi-cloud environment but need to step back and assess your strategy, here are some key points to consider.
Put Together a Multi-cloud Roadmap
When your organization makes the shift to multi-cloud—or realizes that you’ve developed a multi-cloud infrastructure organically—it’s important to pause for a moment and assess your needs. With added complexity comes the risk for security issues, communication breakdowns, or the slip of effective cost controls you have put in place. By developing a framework your team can reference, you’ll be better prepared to manage issues that develop down the road, as well as assess individual solutions for integration.
As one multi-cloud expert said in an interview with the Enterprisers project, “The goal is to create a cloud framework that provides the team with buying, architecture, and execution guidelines that can be repeated as they transform the bulk of their application portfolio. This removes steps and decisions that are often repeated across each application’s transformation and provides more efficiency and speed.”
Evaluate Interoperability and Avoid Lock-in
Are the different cloud solutions you’re utilizing interoperable? Increasingly, cloud providers understand that companies are leveraging a range of cloud-based solutions. From applications to data storage, these systems rely on the ability to communicate and share information to maximize performance. By thinking through communications issues, it’s possible to access the solutions you need without compromising data sharing. In fact, proactively planning a multi-cloud strategy lets you tap into advantages that are inherent in combining solutions and make sure that if you’re developing an application, for example, it’s customized for a multi-cloud environment.
Another component to consider is that going in a multi-cloud direction helps ensure that you’re not locked in to a single vendor. Instead, you can be flexible based on the applications and services that best fit your needs over the long term. When you avoid lock-in, you’re able to make agile decisions about which technology serves you best, without having to eliminate legacy investments.
Identity Management and Data Permissions
Let’s say you have data and systems that are stored in multiple cloud environments. How many different usernames, passwords, and login addresses do your employees need to manage? Increasingly, employees are demanding fast, efficient, and convenient experiences. On the back end, that leaves IT departments with important decisions about how to manage identity verification, data permissions, and user access levels. Thinking through this issue in a proactive way will allow you to capture the benefits of multi-cloud, while ensuring the highest degree of data security and compliance possible.
Mitigating Risk and Security Concerns
When you’re moving applications, data, or critical services to the cloud, it’s important to think about potential risk exposure. Are there cyber security risks? Could a vulnerability in one area of the multi-cloud ecosystem put other data at risk? Think in terms of your uptime requirements. What many organizations haven’t considered is that a multi-cloud strategy can provide significant failover benefits.
As CIO notes, “A multi-cloud strategy can also improve reliability. Specifically, with multi-cloud, an otherwise passive cloud can seamlessly serve as the failover solution when the primary cloud has issues processing a requested service such as an e-commerce transaction. And once the primary cloud is back to its normal function, the operations can automatically revert.”
What to Do When You Realize You Need a Strategy
In many cases, one of the biggest areas of concern IT leaders face in terms of multi-cloud is simply realizing that a strategy is needed. Organically, your technology ecosystem may have evolved into a multi-cloud environment. When you recognize that, it’s the perfect time to address your strategy needs. Here’s a process that can help you approach the process of developing a multi-cloud strategy:
- Assess the current landscape—Are you already implementing multi-cloud solutions? Are you evaluating how a strategic shift in that direction will affect your technology? Determine where you stand in terms of platforms, applications, and human capital—and how that maps to where you’re heading.
- Look at priority concern areas—What are your primary areas of concern? These can range from sharing data to managing access to sensitive resources. Exploring your top concerns will help you prioritize the wide range of issues that can be relevant in this situation.
- Work with a partner that can help you—If you’re unsure of how to move forward, the right technology partners can help. Whether it’s advising you on which strategies make the most sense or helping with the hands-on rollout of technology, working with a partner can be the right step to help your business take advantage of the benefits of multi-cloud as part of a larger strategy.
Increasingly, small-to-medium businesses are using multi-cloud solutions to power their operations. Yet without the right strategy in place, it can be difficult to take advantage of all the benefits multi-cloud offers. Take a strategic point of view now, and you’ll help lay the foundation for future success and innovation.