Three Phases to Successful Multi-Cloud Adoption: Which Are You In?
Cloud computing adoption has been linked to “digital transformation,” a term encompassing the shift from traditional modes of consuming and administrating IT services to the new on-demand model, punctuated by the hiring and reshaping of IT staff around working cloud services, shifting to DevOps methods, or otherwise changing their business operations model in order to maintain or improve a competitive position in the market.
One major piece of digital transformation and cloud adoption is the use of multiple cloud service providers depending on the workload at hand. This mode of cloud computing is now one of the leading deployment types — and could be considered a sibling, or even the same thing, as hybrid cloud.
A recent survey from VMware and the MIT Technology Review classifies three stages on the way to a successful multicloud deployment. Where is your organization on this path towards hybrid cloud enlightenment?
Phase 1: Discovery and First Year Adopters
The first phase in adopting hybrid or multicloud solutions is, of course, simply deciding to adopt them. This group, according to the survey, has more concerns around security and other challenges when migrating to the cloud. They are more wary of vendor pitches as pie-in-the-sky claims.
Phase 1 organizations do face a difficult task. Cloud migration is not always easy, even if you are moving from a VMware virtualized environment on-premise to a VMware cloud service provider; or moving Windows boxes to Azure. Legacy applications may have to be updated or entirely replaced. Staff may need to learn new skills. The testing period often stretches on with production environments delayed.
Do your homework and start researching and preparing now for migration, integration of on-premise and cloud systems (as well as cloud-to-cloud integration), data management, backup/disaster recovery planning, and managing contracts and support status with vendors.
Organizations who finished up their cloud move listed preparation, positive attitude, and internal coordination as key success factors.
Phase 2: Settling Into the Cloud Paradigm
The hard part is finished at this stage, with one to five years of cloud use under your belt. Legacy systems are largely working in sync with new cloud platforms, business units have the technology they need for daily operations, and you have a comfortable relationship with several cloud vendors.
The primary pain points at Phase 2 come from staff and operations changes. As the cloud enables more agile response to new business initiatives, the structure and method of your IT team must change as well. Data management policies must be implemented that take the cloud into account. Planning for operational vs. capital expenses must be reevaluated. Automation and streamlining of cloud resources is paramount, as cloud costs can quickly rise without strong management policy.
Managing security can be difficult across a multicloud environment, even if security in the cloud is largely a non-factor compared to on-premise. And M&A activities, in addition to the occasional service outage, can make vendor stability a factor as well (but that’s part of why a multicloud solution can be better than single cloud, after all).
70% of survey respondents said they shifted their security protocols when adopting multicloud. Over 60% adjusted training, budgeting, and process; while over 50% changed staff and culture to adjust for multicloud use.
Phase 3: Cloud Mastery
You’re a cloud ninja. Or cloud Jedi-master. Or whatever. Point being, you’ve settled into the cloud, having used it for over five years running. You know what staff skills and abilities you need to successfully juggle vendors, optimize and automate the cloud, and maintain any remaining legacy systems. You’ve created new security, data management, and operations policies.
Companies at this stage reported less concern with cloud security (they’ve realized their data is usually safe with a reputable service provider). They claim to experience more agility and the ability to react quicker to market and internal business drivers.
In Phase 3, companies are very likely to practice a cloud-first policy when approaching new deployments. They have created specific procedures for planning and project management in regards to cloud infrastructure. Many of them have laid the groundwork for upcoming advances in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
In comparing first-year cloud adopters to those with six or more years of experience, the rate of survey respondents listing compliance and regulation challenges dropped from over 20% to less than 10%. Meanwhile, data privacy concerns for first year adopters started at nearly 30%, dropping to around 15% for Phase 3 multicloud users.
While this survey makes it sound like all you have to do is settle into the cloud in order to lose your security, cost, and staff concerns, the truth is it is a long road to complete digital transformation of your business. While the benefits are definitely worth it in the end — with improved security, greater agility, easier cost management, and new technologies ushering in a new business paradigm built on automation and the IoT — now is the time to start the planning process. Who knows, you could skip straight into Phase 3 after a short migration period.
You can read the full survey results here for more information on challenges facing multicloud adoption, as well as ultimate advantages of the multicloud model, as reported to VMware and the MIT Technology review.