The Rise of Multi-Cloud: Challenges and Best Practices

Last year, CIO Review predicted that by the end of 2016, more than half of all enterprises would be using the cloud as their primary data infrastructure. Now, new research released this week from IDC has confirmed that prediction so perfectly, its almost seems prophetic. This new survey shows that indeed, over half of all IT decision makers are now choosing the cloud by default. The ‘tipping point’ is finally here. Cloud is standard.

As businesses continue to adapt and refine their cloud strategies, many are finding that it makes more sense to use services from several different cloud providers rather than just one. There are a number of good reasons to utilize a so-called “multi-cloud” solution: maybe Google Cloud better supports your part of the globe, or perhaps your organization has free credits for Microsoft Azure. Whatever the reason, multi-cloud implementations are becoming increasingly common. In fact, another survey from IDC, this one from 2015, found that an astounding 86% of IT professionals planned to adopt a multi-cloud strategy by 2018.

Clearly, multi-cloud is the next big thing in the world of cloud computing. Before your organization dives head first into the multi-cloud frontier, however, it’s important to know that despite the potential benefits, multi-cloud environments also introduce some new challenges. Enterprises planning on transitioning to a multi-cloud environment need to be proactive in understanding and addressing these challenges. Below, we’ve leveraged our extensive experience in Cloud Services Brokerage and identified three common challenges organizations encounter during multi-cloud deployments, as well as best practices for avoiding each one.

Challenge: Different Portals, Different Processes

When only using a single cloud provider, it’s fairly simple to manage your services through their provider-specific portal. Once you start adding additional providers into the mix, however, you now have to visit each provider’s portal separately to manage their respective services. This might only be a minor annoyance if you’re using a handful of services, but for those utilizing dozens of services from several different providers, managing them all individually from their provider-specific portals quickly becomes frustratingly complex.

Best Practice: The simplest and most effective solution is to use a Multi-cloud Management Platform, like DoubleHorn’s Portal. Multi-cloud Management (MCM) Platforms enable you to purchase, deploy, monitor and manage your cloud services across multiple providers from a single portal. Trying to manage complex multi-cloud environments without these specialized tools usually requires significant investment in additional training, or even new hires, to compensate for the additional operational overhead.

Challenge: Maintaining Compliance

Whether its healthcare (HIPAA), criminal justice (CJIS) or the military (ITAR), certain sectors may require that your organization adhere to one or more government-mandated compliance standards. And while you may be familiar with how to achieve compliance with your favorite cloud provider, those methods may not work or even be relevant to a different provider. Not only that, some providers offer services which aren’t capable of meeting certain compliance requirements no matter how they are implemented. As many IT pros are already aware, compliance can be tricky even in a single-provider environment, so it’s not hard to imagine how multi-cloud complicates matters.

Best Practice:  

First, do your research. Before choosing a provider, verify that they are capable of meeting your compliance requirements. Second, certain MCM platforms, including BetterClouds, have tools that guide users through designing and deploying compliant cloud solutions for a variety of use cases. Using these tools can make the compliance process a breeze, even with unfamiliar providers. Finally, if your multi-cloud deployment is very large in scope and maintaining compliance seems overwhelming or beyond your capabilities, it may be wise to enlist the help of an outside Cloud Services Brokerage (CSB). CSBs are experts at designing, deploying and managing cloud solutions capable of meeting almost any imaginable government compliance mandate.

Challenge: Procurement, Accounting, and Billing

Many companies have procurement departments that enforce rules like requiring a certain number of bids before approving a departmental purchase. In such cases, IT may be tasked with comparing similar cloud offerings between providers. This can often seem like an exercise in comparing apples and oranges, as not all cloud providers use the same pricing models, and comparably priced services between providers can differ greatly in performance. Even after procurement, multi-cloud environments may be a constant headache for accounting as they have to continuously reconcile differences in pricing models and date ranges among the multitude of cloud bills they receive each month.

Best Practice:  Using the BetterClouds’ integrated marketplace during the procurement process makes cloud comparison shopping a breeze, as services from multiple providers are offered side-by-side in the same marketplace and pricing model differences are automatically reconciled. Using an MCM platform also lets you take advantage of consolidated billing features, ensuring your organization receives only a single bill each month that covers all of its cloud services.

Onward

This list is a good starting point for your organization’s first steps into the multi-cloud world, but it is by no means comprehensive. If you feel like you’ve done your due diligence but are still struggling with planning or implementing a multi-cloud deployment, DoubleHorn is here to help. We have an over a decade of experience helping enterprises define, refine, and execute their cloud strategies, no matter how big or how small. Contact solutions@doublehorn.com for your complimentary cloud consultation today.

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