Jan 12, 2017

The Top Challenges Facing Multi-Cloud Environments


The newest cloud trend dominating IT strategy discussions? Multi-cloud. Tired of data lock-in and the reduced value of one-size-fits-all services over niche alternatives, tech-savvy companies are turning to a mix of cloud providers rather than simply cloud types. Yet with one cloud vendor for security, a mix of solutions for new and legacy applications, separate dev and testing environments,  and several overlaps for storage and backup, how do businesses make sure they’re getting the best value for their budget?

Here’s a look at tackling the top multi-cloud challenges.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 1: Unique Portals

One of the greatest benefits of multi-cloud also presents one of its greatest challenges. Multi-cloud allows organizations to deploy the environment for each and every critical business applications, but in doing so, adds several layers of management complexity.  Every vendor deployment comes with its own unique portals and processes that companies need to manage. Consider that even something as seemingly simple as Identity and Access Management can be complicated if different providers demand differing password complexities or authentication measures.

The simplest solution here? A multi-cloud management platform that brings unique resources under a single umbrella, and helps avoid problems with platform and process sprawl. While a good start, such platforms typically are never a one-stop shop. Meaning, you might find great multi-cloud monitoring platform, but still rely on manual security patching or provider portals for advanced configuration.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 2: Cloud Skills Gap

The exponential growth of AWS and Azure is fueling huge demand for admins and architects who’ve mastered the platforms. In fact, AWS-certified IT professionals are commanding 28 percent higher salaries than their peers. Companies looking to harness the public cloud as a major pillar of their multi-cloud strategies must account for these unique skill sets, and be prepared to make the necessary investments, or alternatively, partner with a managed service provider with a proven track record of multi-cloud expertise.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 3: App Sprawl

Multi-cloud environments make it easier than ever to lose track of which applications are running, where and how much this costs you day to day. For example, employees may be partial to a particular cloud for certain workloads, but across your entire staff, this choice may not be consistent. This means you could end up with three, four or more of the same app, open across multiple clouds. The solution? According to Tech Republic you’re well served following apps to the cloud, rather than trying to push apps into the cloud based on falling storage or compute prices.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 4: Migration

How do you get from “here” to “there?” If you’re moving apps and services from an existing hybrid deployment of public and private cloud solutions and spreading them out across multiple clouds, you’re facing a migration problem: How do you ensure that the result matches expectations and doesn’t simply pad expenses? The right multi-cloud management solution can help you prepare automatic deployment of existing standards and policies across your new cloud network, rather than forcing you to complete this task one deployment at a time.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 5: Compliance

HIPAA. PCI DSS. FISMA. SOX. For most companies, multiple compliance requirements apply to some or all of their data — and these requirements don’t disappear in the cloud. As a result, you need to ensure that specific providers are able to meet compliance needs before making them part of your multi-cloud infrastructure. Verify that they can satisfy compliance needs and are willing to sign all necessary business associate or other agreements, or consider the help of a cloud service brokerage (CSB) to find your best fit.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 6: Security

No discussion of multi-cloud is complete without mentioning secure environments for the cloud. As noted by Computer Weekly, it’s critical to have a detailed security discussion with your potential vendor prior to signing any SLA — find out what’s covered under provider responsibilities along with its specific response in the case of a security breach or data loss: Is the vendor prepared to help with remediation efforts or does it simply shell out a set penalty? Both options are viable, but it pays to know before you start moving data.

Multi-cloud offers businesses the ability to create powerful and secure cloud environments outside the traditional compute framework. Maximizing the impact of multi-cloud, however, means tackling the challenges of unique portals, app sprawl, migration, compliance and security head-on.

Additionally, IT is confronted with the fact that business unit owners know longer need to go through IT to acquire compute resources. Referred to by many as “Shadow IT,” the trend opens organizations to significant vulnerabilities due to a lack of oversight and adherence to standard security protocols. To bring rogue infrastructure out of the shadows, IT leaders must build relationships with business units and define clear policies for self-service IaaS solutions.

Multi-Cloud Challenge No. 7: Controlling Costs

Mastering multi-cloud economics is perhaps the greatest challenge of all. Each platform has its own unique set of variables that make optimization a full-time job – billing systems, pricing models, instance/VM sizing differences, data egress fees, etc. The multi-vendor sprawl of billing itself can induce budgeting nightmares for IT management. Partnering with a managed multi-cloud provider to consolidate billing and provide application-specific cost analysis, however, can simultaneously ease a lot of this burden and keep IT’s relationship with the finance department healthy. (Always a good idea!)  

Updated: January 2019

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