How to make sure the switch to multicloud pays off

By now, the benefits of adopting a multicloud approach are well and truly out of the bag. By working with two or more cloud providers, companies can pick and choose offerings from each to leverage the “best of all worlds”, all the while allowing for better contingency planning, avoiding vendor lock-in, and boosting their disaster recovery strategy.

multicloud approach

With so much to gain by dipping their toes into multiple cloud pools, it should come as no surprise that Flexera recently reported that more than 90% of enterprises are embracing multicloud architectures.

However, some of these organizations still don’t appreciate fully the importance of a comprehensive strategy when taking the leap to multicloud. Transitioning to a multicloud approach requires careful planning and the right expertise – whether in-house or third-party, you need to make sure you have the right team on board.

Prior to diving in, it’s also vital to conduct a full analysis of your data and systems landscapes and, of course, secure resources for maximizing the security of an increasingly complex cloud-based infrastructure.

Determine readiness

The first thing you need to think about before adopting the multicloud approach is whether you are actually ready for it.

There are a number of things you need to have in place. For example, one non-negotiable element of your IT team is a DevOps culture. By being committed to agile processes and cross-team collaboration, you can make sure that you’re able to continuously make any necessary changes or updates to your product while the transition is underway. Not to mention, having a DevOps culture will enable teams to quickly adopt cutting-edge technologies made available by multicloud, like Spinnaker or Kubernetes.

Next, you need to understand how to achieve high availability, resilience, and zero downtime strategies within your existing architecture. In addition, any legacy architecture will need to be modernized before launching a multicloud strategy. This will allow you to make use of modern cloud features like microservices and containerization, as well as achieve interoperability between clouds. For instance, applications that need to be split into multiple parts to run in separate clouds must be modernized, as legacy architectures would be unlikely to enable this.

Now, it’s onto getting a full picture of your data landscape and strategy: can your technology storage stack, transactional databases, data warehouses, and data analytics platforms be accessed across multiple cloud environments? You might even need to redesign or replace your data integration architecture, data lake and big data architectures with hyper-scalable or multicloud services like BigQuery Omni.

And finally, think about how the kind of business you are relates to your multicloud strategy. Businesses with architectures that include composable solutions and an ecosystem of partners integrated through APIs result in extra dependencies. If you’re going to migrate or modernize these API products, you’ll have to give them additional care and attention.

Bring in the right expertise

If you have the resources to build your team internally, it could be a great idea to set up a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). Creating a CCoE means having a team that’s specifically dedicated to all things related to cloud adoption, strategy, governance, and automation. This can help you create a cultural shift which embeds the power of multiple clouds even deeper into the IT team’s mindset.

If establishing a CCoE is out of reach, there are still roles you can build in-house to help you transition. At the very minimum, you’ll need a dedicated DevOps team with expertise in cloud agnostic development and knowledge of cloud native architectures. This might mean bringing in cloud experts and quality assurance engineers to help you switch to multicloud without wasting any resources.

However, if hiring new in-house team members isn’t a good option for you right now, there is the option to consult with third-party experts. An external cloud expert can give you guidance on anything from team training to designing, building, monitoring, and maintaining your multicloud architecture.

They can also give you insights into which parts of your cloud architecture need to be agnostic, how to protect it against future failures, and help you undertake this by refactoring, redesigning, and re-architecting your workloads and microservices. And with such a rich experience under their belt, an expert partner will be well-poised to give you pointers on cost optimization and combining features to achieve interoperability.

Prioritize security, from day one

Multicloud security is one of the biggest immediate challenges for IT teams. With more cloud environments to manage, there are inherently more risks for security mishaps and chances for exploitation. When you’re setting up your multicloud infrastructure, you’ll need to provide the adequate security training on managing and understanding the security requirements of each cloud provider.

You should also establish a common networking and security framework which works across all clouds, along with the integration of API-enabled communications between each of the security layers. Any tools you deploy here must support compliance across platforms, too. It’s vital to set up security solutions that can be deployed in cloud native environments and have been designed to work with each other, as well as synchronizing security policies and settings across each provider.

That being said, when deploying different services, it’s paramount to base individual service security policies on that particular platform’s needs and capabilities. Admins can then leverage a single, centralized point of control where they can see all of the application and data security across each cloud environment to manage the entire ecosystem.

While cloud vendors do provide their own security services, this won’t be enough to get comprehensive protection. Deploying one single tool that can ensure coverage across all cloud environments is the answer to building a secure, unified, and compliant architecture.

Furthermore, automation systems can prove to be invaluable when it comes to securing a multicloud environment, especially while monitoring your security landscape. Embodying a DevSecOps perspective when you build these solutions will help drive security throughout the whole process.

Any sensitive data must be exclusively stored and accessed only in a private part of that cloud, which is diligently monitored. From the get-go, you should consider which company personnel will have access to sensitive data and build in user access controls across cloud boundaries. Ultimately, in order to take advantage of all the clouds have to offer, security needs to be deeply embedded in all of the underlying cloud platforms.

Multicloud adoption is certainly no simple task, but the rewards you can reap make it a worthwhile undertaking. By carefully crafting your multicloud strategy from day one, bringing in the right people for the job, and prioritizing security from the get-go, you can set yourself up to see newfound capabilities, record-breaking efficiency levels, and serious ROI.

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