Why organisations should consider the move to a multi-cloud environment
What a difference a few years can make. In 2020 Australia, the case for ‘cloud first' IT infrastructure has been well and truly made. We've seen an en masse move away from the on-premises model of yesteryear and widespread adoption of everything as a service.
42% of Australian businesses reported using cloud computing in 2017-18, compared with 31% in 2015-16, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 2019 Business Characteristics Survey.
They're spending serious sums in the process – US$6.6 billion on public cloud in 2019, and an anticipated US$8.1 billion this year, by Gartner's reckoning.
The cloud trend is likely to intensify in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, given the consensus among technology commentators that cloud-focused enterprises have fared better on the business continuity front than those relying on a legacy, data center-driven infrastructure or just a single cloud service provider.
Are many clouds better than one?
Many organisations in the middle of the adoption curve will soon be pondering a question those in the vanguard have already addressed: are there tangible benefits to a strategy that uses multiple clouds?
The answer, thus far, has been a resounding yes. Three-quarters of organisations that have embraced the cloud are using multiple cloud platforms – from four different providers on average, according to a 2020 study from local research house Telsyte.
There's a reason for that. Not putting all their eggs in one high tech basket allows organisations to avoid vendor lock-in, ensure they're enjoying the most cost-effective arrangements available, and minimise the risk of business disruption in the event of technical issues or outages.
So, how can businesses thinking of expanding their cloud supplier base ensure they get the optimum outcomes from a multi-cloud environment?
A case by case approach
Working methodically through the computing needs of each department or business unit, to determine which functions will work better in which cloud environment. Identify and evaluate the cloud vendors that are best able to support those applications and services.
It's a process best completed in consultation with the software development team, given the vital role they are required to play in transitioning to the new environment. Their decision is likely to be influenced by a host of technical factors, such as cloud behaviour, security policies, network capabilities, add-on features and API integrations, as well as price and geographic availability.
Key points to consider
Despite the conscious effort of deciding which business applications and services should be hosted by which providers, cloud and cost management will still need comprehensive strategies to prevent spiralling out of control.
In addition, workload assessments will help determine the right cloud platform to use. Not only will those assessments point to the requisite technical capabilities needed from the cloud, but it will also pave the way to reduce business challenges like reliability, regulations and efficiency. Cloud management partners may come handy both in cloud and cost management and in workload assessment.
Securing the multi-cloud environment
A single security solution is not enough to secure the cloud infrastructure, and the shift to a multi-cloud environment amplifies that issue. Eliminating risks that have the potential to cause breaches is paramount, and it's a challenge that's further exacerbated by the remote working phenomenon ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Implementing a zero trust security model, which requires individuals accessing the network to repeatedly validate their credentials, can provide organisations with the rigorous protection needed to ensure a secure environment.
To reap the benefits of the multi-cloud model without exposing themselves to significant risk in the process, enterprises can combine a few techniques in the process, like:
- A comprehensive identity and access management solution
- Analytics tools that deliver insights based on real-time data
- A zero trust model.
IT infrastructure that underpins innovation and growth
Today's challenging economic times are compelling Australian enterprises to find ways to cut costs and optimise their operations. A multi-cloud strategy may be one way to do so, provided it's implemented intelligently and systematically.