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How to Optimize a Multi-Cloud Deployment

Multi-cloud isn't just about having services running in multiple clouds; there needs to be a plan in place and an understanding of what works best for a workload.

For a growing number of organizations, using just a single cloud provider is no longer considered a best practice.

The concept of multi-cloud has been gaining adoption in recent years as an approach that enables organizations to make use of more than one public cloud provider. The reasons for choosing multi-cloud are varied, ranging from a desire to avoid lock-in with a single provider to service enablement, as not all public cloud providers have the same services.

Resiliency is another common reason for choosing multi-cloud, as is choosing different providers based on the cost to operate a specific workload on a given cloud.

Here are key recommendations for managing and effectively utilizing a multi-cloud deployment strategy:

Be Purposeful

According to Stephanie Fairchild, senior analyst at ClearPath Strategies, the first step to multi-cloud success is to actually have a multi-cloud deployment strategy.

"If you backed into it via acquisition or shadow IT, consolidate in a purposeful way," Fairchild said. "Make the most of each of your cloud deployments."

She also suggests empowering the platform team within the organization to move as fast as the development teams are moving.

Maintain an Open Posture

To get the most out of a multi-cloud deployment strategy, organizations must be open to the possibilities that different public cloud providers present. Fairchild suggests that organizations be as flexible as possible to enable openness.

"A modular tech stack that allows you to swap in best of breed technologies as needed and as they emerge will allow you to stay competitive and make the most of your multi-cloud decision," she said.

Understand How Teams Use the Cloud Today

Executive management should spend time with the product teams to find out how they work with their preferred clouds, according to Jared Ruckle, director of product marketing at HashiCorp.

In particular, Ruckle recommends focusing on their pace of innovation, their overall efficiency in cloud usage, and their adherence to security guidelines and compliance practices.

"These insights are likely to yield insights on how to best industrialize multi-cloud usage at scale across your organization," he said.

Be Wary of Multi-cloud Pitfalls

According to a recent survey from HashiCorp, more than 76% of enterprises have already adopted some form of multi-cloud strategy. However, there are some pitfalls.

HashiCorp's survey found that organizations worry about security, wasteful spending and teams that work in silos, Ruckle said. The larger the organization, the larger the concern in each respective area. And the challenges are likely to snowball when centralized IT policy-makers are disconnected from product teams and don’t understand that reality, he added.

Have a Realistic Definition of Multi-cloud

Ruckle also suggests that organizations have a realistic definition of multi-cloud and how it will be used.

Generally speaking, different teams have different preferences on the services they want to consume from a given cloud provider, Ruckle said. He suggests that organizations focus on enabling the development and platform team preferences, with a shared model for infrastructure automation, zero-trust security and high-velocity application delivery.

"The default pattern should not be the same workloads running on more than one cloud," Ruckle said. "That’s likely to be an edge for a subset of your application portfolio."

Security, Security, Security

Shai Joshi, managing partner and service line leader at IBM Global Business Services, is a strong advocate for an open hybrid cloud approach that considers both on-premises and public cloud deployments.

For successful digital transformation in the cloud, there is a need for greater emphasis on security—to protect data in the cloud, Joshi said. Organizations that underpin their digital transformation journey with secure solutions such as keeping their own key encryption technology and confidential computing capabilities will ultimately set themselves up for longer-term success. Joshi added that businesses operating in highly regulated industries need to invest in security that is second to none.

"No matter the starting point, it’s essential to have an open hybrid cloud architecture that allows leaders to choose where to deploy workloads across multiple clouds, connect data and processes within the enterprise and its ecosystems, and secure critical data," he said.

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