The right combination of hybrid cloud resources can provide companies with a path toward the agile, digital enterprise, but managing multiple public clouds, private clouds and on-premises resources takes planning. There are three key goals to keep in mind when developing a multi-cloud strategy: make it easy, make it cheap and make it secure.
These goals are interrelated. For example, if an organization fails to make it easy, it ends up with complex environments that can be difficult to secure and expensive to operate. This is especially apparent in multi-cloud environments, where an enterprise might have two major public cloud providers, multiple platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) providers, in addition to a couple of virtualization platforms, disparate automation and private cloud stacks, and more. Finding the right mix of control is hard. Clearly defining your governance goals makes it easier.
According to a Frost & Sullivan study, 51 percent of decision makers say they need assistance to determine the optimal deployment environment for new or legacy workloads. So let’s examine the three goals in more depth:
1. Make it easy
Organizations should make a concerted effort to reduce complexity. Creeping complexity comes in many forms, including having too many OS options, network configurations and authentication mechanisms. For all of these options, it is best to limit the choices to a handful of approved standards across the business and make it difficult to seek exemptions. This is especially important in hybrid cloud environments that are, by their very nature, a combination of different infrastructure, platforms, tools, processes and governance.
The biggest single thing you can do for network governance is to deploy an IP address management (IPAM) tool that can be used across all of your cloud environments. This tool stores information about what networks are in which environments and used for what purpose. This becomes invaluable for managing multi-cloud environments.
Authentication is another important issue that requires a simple, effective approach. One of the biggest problems associated with managing multiple clouds and different environments is managing credentials. Having a governance standard that defines a single identity provider per class of user (i.e., one for employees, one for customers, one for internet of things [IoT] devices, etc.) makes management much easier.
2. Make it cheap
A key component of any transformation to the cloud is a detailed cost/benefit analysis, or business value assessment. According to the 2019 RightScale State of the Cloud survey, 68% of respondents said the top responsibilities of IT are managing and optimizing cloud services costs.
There are several ways to continue to optimize the value of cloud assets: Organizations can set limits on the size and number of cloud instances that can be used; tag resources for cost allocation and management; manage all environments, including test, development and production; and last but not least, evaluate the business case for the use of cloud resources.
3. Make it secure
Security management is making sure that you defend the company from external threats and safeguard sensitive corporate data, while governance is making sure that it is an attainable goal. Governance always prioritizes simplicity, visibility and compliance, and these factors are especially important in securing multiple environments.
Companies should take a two-pronged governance approach that consists of intelligently limiting options at the front end so that obeying the rules is the easy option, and providing visibility into who is doing what to ensure that employees are making compliant decisions.
This heightened focus on security is highlighted by the fact that governance, expertise, spend, security and compliance are a challenge for between 76 and 79 percent of respondents in the RightScale survey.
In summary, multi-cloud environments are and will continue to be part of an enterprise’s digital transformation journey, but if you focus on making it easy, making it cheap and making it secure you will simplify the job of using hybrid cloud to reach the agile, digital enterprise.