Clouds against a light blue background in the arm with a smartphone.

Four tips for surviving the multi-cloud world

It is not easy for companies to keep track in the jumble of multi-cloud providers

June 10 2020Martin Holzinger

Being proficient in the cloud

Ten years ago, anyone who could run a web application on AWS was considered a cloud expert. But ten years is a long time, especially in the digitization age. These days, which mark the start of the multi-cloud era, it takes more than just manually setting up a virtual server to be proficient in ‘the cloud’.

The multi-cloud is real: It’s cloud providers en masse

Light transparent mushrooms growing on dark soil

There are two main reasons for this. First: ‘The cloud’ has long since ceased to exist. It has transformed into a landscape (some would call it a zoo) of different services and technologies. Second: Going cloud-only – an idea that has since arisen – is a utopia that does not fit with the realities of business.

Like mushrooms after a warm autumn rain, cloud providers have also shot up across Germany. According to Cloud Computing Insider, Crisp Research analyzed over 100 cloud service providers in its Vendor Universe 2019, and ISG did the same with over 140 cloud service providers in its Provider Lens. It’s difficult to keep track when there are so many. However, this is also a sign that the multi-cloud is more than just a dream (or nightmare).

Similar to a marketplace, the multi-cloud era of course offers a number of options for companies willing to actively engage with it. But what skills are needed in order to get the most out of the multi-cloud world as a company? The following four points are on the agenda of all multi-cloud projects we carry out with our customers:

1st Know ‘your’ clouds

A multi-cloud strategy relies on you finding the right infrastructures for the right use cases (see also next point). The ones that optimally support a business process or sub-process. This requires knowledge of strengths and weaknesses (including in terms of the respective cloud’s performance). The ongoing further developments in public clouds (as well as private clouds) in relation to features, services and performance are changing the game for good. ‘Agile’ is not just a claim here. ‘Your’ clouds should not just be the ones you are using. Keep a ‘watch list’ of additional candidates.

2nd Think beyond the cloud

Don’t just stop at infrastructures and platforms. These are simply the means to an end for optimized process support, which you can achieve with applications. As such, it is important to develop your application strategy together with the available or listed infrastructures. Don’t forget your legacy world, and plan trigger events (or parameters) where cloud migration makes sense from a technical or business administration perspective. Until then, you will have to ensure your legacy world and the cloud world co-operate smoothly. Bear in mind the portability of the applications you have developed in-house. Platform independence (e.g. by using containers) gives you a high degree of flexibility and is a key prerequisite for achieving a multi-cloud strategy’s added value.

3rd Multi-clouds need ‘multi’ management

Section of tools hanging on the wall

A multi-cloud landscape is particularly distinguished by the fact that it is indeed ‘multi’. You not only need skills to make the most of the different clouds, but also the tools to help you manage the landscape. These tools are designed to both enable the technical management of multi-clouds and to give you transparency regarding the usage and associated costs of the individual clouds, as well as to ensure you keep compliance and security requirements under control. Ideally, the tools will also enable cost allocation to various users – in other words, cost centers. The long-term goal of your tool set should be to automatically distribute workloads across different clouds – and automatisms or AI will be indispensable here in the long run.

4th Integration skills for hybrid clouds

Hybrid clouds as a sub-topic represent the perfected art of the multi-cloud, so to speak. You should also provide specific integration skills for hybrid clouds. If you focus on hybrid clouds, you should develop standard procedures over the medium term that enable you to (semi-)automate ‘low-threshold’ system integration, for example.

Set the course for the multi-cloud

A multi-cloud world has varying requirements. The multi-cloud is a treasure trove from which users can pick and choose. Meanwhile, IT departments are facing greater challenges than ever before. For this reason, IT departments should prepare for multi-cloud requirements early on. Automation, AI and managed services by experienced cloud management providers are all possible ways of keeping your head above water in the multi-cloud world. Or as a first step you consider downloading our white paper on future cloud infrastructures.

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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