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Are You AU Fait With the Multicloud Mix?

Varying Cloud Maturity, DevOps vs. ITIL, Multi-Cloud Reality Hybrid Clouds – how to keep the overview?

June 24 2020Martin Holzinger

Mixing is an acquired skill

On my last holiday, I watched an artist at work. He was a mixologist, whose steady hand poured five different layers of liquid into a tiny glass. The patron then grabbed the ‘shooter’, and, a few seconds later, the mixologist’s work was history. The only thing that remained was the satisfied look on the consumer’s face. 
On the other hand, never before have I seen a patron or patrons mucking in. A gaggle of people behind the bar, each one randomly adding ingredients … with someone eventually having to drink it. You can imagine what the bartender would think. Not to mention the person who ultimately has to down the finished product. Too many mixologists spoil the drink …

Every business has its own multicloud story

A businessman holds a magnifying glass under which there is a cloud and a graphic representation of a personnel structure.

The modern-day IT situation at companies is not dissimilar to the “bustling” second scenario – except that the bartender or corporate IT department tries to bring order to the chaos: The dream of 100 percent migration to the public cloud has not been able to withstand reality. Legacy systems continue to exist, and ideally need to interact with the new cloud components. The allocation and (lack of?) classification of data gives reason for concern, in view of the statutory requirements. The App Development department works as it thinks best on the most appropriate platforms. Shadow IT … reality. 

These are of course snapshots – each company has its own multicloud story, particularly given the many different business models and varying importance and usage of IT. Differing cloud strategies and stakeholders diversify/individualize each company’s situation. Once again, it’s all about the mix – namely the specific initial situation with its particular challenges.

Every cloud journey has a different starting point

Typical questions describing the situation at the respective company include:

  1. What is the degree of cloud maturity? In our experience, around 10 percent of businesses are cloud-native, 50 percent are cloud-ready (i.e. ready for an extensive system migration) and 40 percent are still largely operating in the monolithic legacy world with selective cloud adoption.
  2. How far advanced is the transformation towards DevOps, and how much classic ITIL is in use? When you look at application development, DevOps is definitely slowly establishing itself at the Dev end. But there are usually shortcomings at the Ops end, resulting in developers increasingly being involved in operational tasks too – which is not ideal for either side.
  3. What acute business challenges exist? Cloud marketing has ripened its fruits in the business departments. Time-to-market and optimized customer/benefit experiences are what distinguish companies from their rivals these days. Anyone rejecting the options provided by the cloud must live with the consequences.

Stakeholders with differing requirements

In an era of digitization, application developers are a rare and strategic resource at a company. And they need to be perfectly equipped for their work. They expect optimum working conditions – which can most certainly end in a set (mixture) of platforms.
Business users only think in categories of platforms and infrastructures when they are told that a business idea cannot be technically implemented. They expect their ideas will become a reality in order to secure the company a competitive edge. 

Administrators are overrun by the wide range of platforms. They need to be able to manage entire landscapes down to the smallest bits, and automate these where possible. They need privileged access and ways of controlling IT components, even at a granular level.

Budget managers are sometimes overwhelmed by the costs presented to them at the end of the month. The public cloud sprawl often leads to unregulated use of resources, and thus incurs unexpectedly high costs. Efficient cost management is of immense importance to them.

Acting amongst all these stakeholders is the Corporate IT department, which attempts to balance out the various demands. It also needs to constantly check whether IT governance is being upheld. Compliance requirements, such as data protection and security, need transparency and intervention options.

Modular multicloud management for individual cloud journeys

A man in a white suit stands on blue honeycomb blocks floating in the sky.

The solution to the multiple challenges faced by business and IT in a multicloud world lies in a framework approach for multicloud and hybrid-cloud management. It must address three levels and be available as a modular system: 

  1. It must support compatibility for on and off-premise workloads with complete platform management at a hypervisor level.
  2. It must enable cross-cloud governance with security, compliance and cost efficiency, which allows the companies to focus on digitizing their business.
  3. It must permit end-to-end application management across platforms, which also includes modernizing the application landscapes and matching/changing models of operation. 

Managing multiclouds under one roof – feels like ‘the cloud’

This enables the multicloud world to be managed under one roof. The barriers between private and public clouds disappear – and the platform landscape looks like ‘a cloud’. The various stakeholders at the company then have access to a wide range of supported cloud technologies, from which the application developers can select the most suitable. This means a further increase in flexibility and efficiency at an operational level: applications are developed once, and can be run on different platforms as needed. APIs are the key to linking various cloud platforms in a largely automated fashion. Administrators benefit from access to native management tools (via portals, APIs or command line interfaces), and the Corporate IT department can enforce strong data governance.

The private cloud as a springboard

This sort of concept can be implemented pragmatically when companies start with a private cloud. The by-product of this is that private clouds are also able to function similarly to public clouds. They can be used with much greater flexibility – while still retaining high security standards. The private cloud acts as a central hub to which the selected public clouds and on-premise resources are connected. As such, the multicloud reality transforms into a planned and controlled hybrid-cloud approach, enabling flexibility and control. It not only combines the ‘old IT’ with the ‘new IT’, but also serves as a springboard for future development of the platform landscape based on the various needs of the stakeholders at the company. 

Don’t be afraid of the cloud mix

As an initial attempt at cloud-mixing, I recommend a White Cloud: Pour 40 ml vodka, 20 ml cacao liqueur, 60 ml pineapple juice and 20 ml cream into a cocktail shaker. Add 4 ice cubes. Shake for 20 seconds. Fill two thirds of a cocktail glass with crushed ice, and pour in the liquid from the shaker. Cheers! Perhaps cloud-mixing is not that complicated after all.

For more complex cloud-mix requirements, we recommend our white paper on Future Cloud Infrastructure, which contains further information on our approach to multi/hybrid-cloud management.

Actively shaping the multi-cloud

The Future Cloud Infrastructure enables future-oriented multi-cloud management that helps you keep compliance and costs under control. You can read exactly how this works in our white paper.

About the author

Martin Holzinger

Head of Business Development & International Consulting, T-Systems International GmbH

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