Multi-Cloud Strategy Can Be Tough, But Worthwhile: Study

A multi-cloud strategy helps to ease custom workloads, maintain data control and prevent vendor lock-in.

Todd Weiss

January 2, 2018

3 Min Read

Enterprises today are doing far more with cloud than just using private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructures for a variety of tasks. They're also beginning to use multiple clouds at the same time; a multi-cloud strategy allows enterprises to better protect their data assets and operations by essentially spreading their systems across different locations for redundancy, custom workload capabilities and other benefits.

But creating, deploying and using multi-cloud infrastructures takes more experience and development than just placing applications in a hybrid, private or public cloud, according to a recent MIT Technology Review Custom study on cloud infrastructure and business mobility.

Among the toughest steps to make a multi-cloud strategy work, according to some 62 percent of the 1,300 global IT pros who responded, are integrating legacy systems and understanding the new technology, according to the 18-page study, "After Deployment Storms, Skies Turn Sunny For Multi-Cloud Environments." The survey was sponsored by VMWare and conducted by market research company Kadence International.

"Starting a multi-cloud project is like the Olympics dilemma," Owen Jenkins, the CEO of Kadence International told ITPro Today. "When they launch the Olympics in a country there is no positive news until they start the Games," due to frequent and expected delays, cost-over-runs and logistical problems. "It's the same for companies that are doing multi-cloud. You are holding your breath until it gets under way."

Some 57 percent of the survey respondents said they hadn't expected the technical challenges, staff skills and personnel shortages they experienced as they began to implement their multi-cloud strategy, according to the report. One of the biggest problems they saw was migrating and managing their data from one cloud to another, which required effective and deep planning, the survey continued.

But as those first-time issues are tackled and resolved, the systems became easier to manage and their strengths for enterprises grew as time goes on, said Jenkins.

"After it starts working, after the second year, people really start reaping the benefits of this technology," Jenkins said. "After first year, there was still a bit of uncertainty, but users began getting into more of a groove."

There were plenty of lessons learned offered by the IT pros in the survey.

Among the key advice provided by survey respondents for making the multi-cloud transition easier is carefully conducting your planning and research for the project, while also maintaining a positive attitude while it is under way," said Jenkins.

"It's going to be challenge, but it's going to be worthwhile it in the end, which is a nice thing for an IT department, where they tend to be conservative," he said.

Also important is coordinating multi-cloud processes and planning internally, so enterprises can bring in soft skills to help get people on board with the proper strategy and management of their expectations, he said.

Telling users "it's going to be scary, but it's going to be positive" is a message worth communicating inside enterprises, he said.

Some 82 percent of the respondents said they benefit from increased security due to using a multi-cloud approach, while about 80 percent reported that have improved agility and efficiency with the technology. About 78 percent reported cost savings, while 75 percent said it eased their compliance needs. Interestingly, some 70.3 percent of new multi-cloud adopters said they perceived increased security benefits, which rose to 91 percent for seasoned users, according to the survey.

Adding a second cloud for improved security was the highest mentioned reason by most respondents for adopting a multi-cloud strategy, said Jenkins. About 12 percent of the respondents had been using only public cloud, while 35 percent were using private clouds and 52 percent were using hybrid clouds.

"One-fifth of them said multi-cloud did more than they thought," said Jenkins. "It is allowing companies to adapt quickly to any changes."

The research for the study was collected online by MIT Technology Review Custom between July 9 and Aug. 10, 2017, targeting IT decision makers in large enterprises that are using multi-cloud environments. The 1,355 responses that were received came from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Australia, China, Japan and India.

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