Last year, Gartner forecasted that cloud services revenue globally will reach $305.8bn in 2018 – which will be an increase of 17.5 percent from 2017. As businesses increasingly move to more digitised processes, coupled with the pressures on modern-day IT leaders to have a cloud environment that is fit for purpose, multicloud or other, is more important than ever.
IT leaders need to address new challenges concerning security, visibility, cost, performance, automation and migration. Yet, how can these challenges be addressed if so many IT decision makers do not have the tools to get a complete oversight of the multicloud environment or are unaware of what their business is currently spending on cloud?
Staying on top – application mapping
Application mapping is one way to provide robust visibility into which part of a company’s IT infrastructure supports a particular business service, such as the various components of your multicloud environment. An application map makes it possible to monitor and document business services. Furthermore, it enables IT to assess the impact of potential changes, configurations and check other functions to ensure optimal business support.
Auto-discovery application mapping tools can collect data on network infrastructure and cloud services and their relationships to create tiered and robust application maps. By fostering collaboration between application owners and configuration managers, and extending across all cloud services, application maps can truly advance IT- business alignment and help keep the cloud environment responsive to business demands.
When it comes to mapping the multicloud environment, it is best to start with a ‘start anywhere’ approach to allow application owners a better experience by enabling them to start with what they know rather than making them work out what constitutes the “top”. ‘Start anywhere’ mapping can also start from multiple points simultaneously which means IT teams can cope much better with applications or when parts of a relationship are missing and mitigate the managing of the challenges that standard tools face in today’s complex cloud-centric infrastructures.
The complexity of cloud and multicloud
Our recent survey has found that 40 percent of IT decision makers globally do not know how much their businesses are spending on cloud services, and this accounts for over half (53 percent in the UK). Couple this with the fact that 78 percent of IT decision makers are looking for ways to integrate emerging solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) into their multicloud strategies, and this shapes up to highlight a worrying trend. How can new technologies be implemented into cloud environments if there is no apparent visibility into spend and resourcing?
Multicloud has truly changed the game, and the traditional way of looking at IT infrastructure simply will not work anymore. IT leaders must consider new ways to manage multicloud environments to ensure they are getting the expected benefits from public cloud in terms of cost savings, automated performance optimisation and increased security and governance. They must also adapt their management approach using new technology solutions built for multicloud that leverage machine learning and AI to reduce complexity.
Ensuring agility, compliance, innovation and cost control – how to start
44 percent of IT decision makers in our survey agreed that adopting multicloud is essential to maintaining agility. This ties in with avoiding supplier lock-in, which is essential for any competitive organisation looking to have a robust worldwide cloud presence. The lock-in element is going to become a bigger issue for organisations. For example, it’s all very well and good to have a global deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for example, but when you go to Spain, would it perhaps be easier to work with a competitive Spanish cloud provider which will also guarantee that data is stored and managed under Spanish law? Multicloud solutions that aren’t too stringent will help to facilitate this approach to global business.
Understanding the costs across any public, private and hybrid cloud model is also critical to maintaining business agility and increasing business acumen. The most effective multicloud infrastructure will be one that is coupled with a cost management solution that analyses future and current costs. Insight and control over capital and operating expenditures can be and should be streamlined. With a single view of on-premise and public cloud infrastructure spend, organisations can analyse and track costs and utilisation, whilst also identify areas of overspend and pre-empting future costs.
The next and final considerations are that of compliance/security testing and creating innovation in a multicloud environment. To remain competitive, businesses today have to empower developers to perform critical checks of the software development lifecycle. They also must start thinking seriously about applying intelligence, automation, and predictive capabilities so that less time is spent on repetitive tasks.
In summary, here are the quick tips to stay on top of multicloud environments:
- Gain increased visibility into cloud assets to get the complete picture
- Re-think management approaches: simplify and automate as much as possible
- AI and machine learning can remove repetition out of multicloud management
- Get a clear picture of cloud costs: it may not make sense to run everything in cloud
- Take a proactive stance to harden a broader attack surface, ensure compliance
By taking these clear steps, multicloud environments can be carefully managed to support optimum business performance. The first step is to get clear on what you are dealing with and take the necessary steps to simplify as much as you can. We expect to see many IT decision makers take better control of their multicloud environments this year.