The rise of multi-cloud

 A hybrid IT strategy is even better with many clouds at once

Discussions about cloud migrations usually talk about a move to ‘the cloud’ as if it is a single, nebulous and indistinct entity. The reality, of course, is much different – and with many organisations opting for flexible multi-cloud architecture strategies, their approach to hybrid IT needs to be equally flexible.

The rise of multi-cloud architectures has accelerated in recent years as digital transformation (DX) pressures drive organisations’ maturity from early experiments with cloud services and applications, into robust and systematic users of cloud and related private-cloud architectures.

Australian organisations are well known for being early cloud adopters, but a recent IDC assessment found that more than 85 percent of APAC organisations are still in the early stages of cloud maturity – measured on a scale of ad hoc, opportunistic, and repeatable. This had improved over a similar survey two years earlier, but the findings confirm that achieving cloud maturity is an ongoing process.

The successful adoption of a multi-cloud strategy is one mark of that maturity, and one that is increasingly common: a 2017 IDC analysis found that 56 percent of users were running on more than one type of cloud, and that this proportion would increase to 85 percent this year.

Many reasons for multi-cloud…

Enterprises have many reasons for adopting a multi-cloud strategy, ranging from avoidance of vendor lock-in to better performance, improved reliability, cost savings, and improvements in security protections thanks to having multiple points of failure.

Adopting multiple clouds may also be important for companies that need to control the physical location of their data for privacy and regulatory reasons, since not all public cloud providers run systems in the same places.

Because clouds use relatively consistent architectures, workloads on one cloud platform are highly portable and can be shifted between platforms as requirements and business objectives change. This improves business resiliency, and allows costs to be predictably managed based on the resource consumption of each workload over time.

Using multiple clouds also allows companies to pick and choose cloud service providers based on the unique attributes of a particular platform – for example, whether it offers novel backup capabilities, security protections, standards-compliant data governance, or partner extensions that simplify integration with a particular enterprise platform.

It’s worth noting that the multi-cloud architecture can also include private clouds running as on-premises infrastructure. These platforms use the same standards as their public-cloud peers, and can smoothly move workloads between the platforms just as easily.

Backed by software-defined network (SDN) and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), such platforms exist on an enterprise architecture that works in harmony with all manner of cloud platforms. This enables synergy between local and remote application loads, which allows the entire multi-cloud environment to work seamlessly together.

…And one reason for hybrid IT

Whatever the reasons for adopting a particular cloud, the proliferation of different technology platforms adds a new wrinkle to conventional models of hybrid IT.

Instead of thinking about hybrid IT in terms of on-premises and off-premises architectures, a multi-cloud environment changes this paradigm by adding multiple domains that must each be managed in the same way.

These domains necessarily require a high degree of visibility and management capabilities – and hybrid-IT platforms provide them by offering the level of simplification, orchestration and automation necessary to confidently, for example, move workloads between multiple clouds as business requirements dictate.

Adding this degree of management becomes possible using specialised multi-cloud management tools such as Cloud Control or Cloud Management Platform (CMP), which span the distance between cloud platforms and offer capabilities such as automated migrations of workloads between platforms; visibility of all cloud-based assets; and even cost monitoring and forecasting.

Indeed, cost monitoring is a crucial element of any multi-cloud strategy. Too many companies have been caught out when their developers spin up large numbers of cloud-based virtual machines that they leave running indefinitely – each one costing more money over time.

This risk of budget blowout is compounded in a multi-cloud environment, where workloads might be run up on any number of systems and clouds at once. Controlling that resource consumption is crucial to business, and helpful to hybrid IT management strategies that necessarily involve visibility of all active resources.

By building a flexible and resilient management architecture, enterprises can tap into the benefits of a multi-cloud strategy while retaining the flexibility and integration of the hybrid IT paradigm. Taken together, the result is an extensible, scalable hybrid-IT environment that will help businesses take digital transformation in any direction they need to.

The NTT Cloud Control architecture enables this flexibility through services such as consumption-based private billing on private clouds, better security compliance, reduced troubleshooting time, and self-service for core capabilities such as monitoring backups, virtual machine operations, database services and others.

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Gareth Cleeves min
Author Name: Gareth Cleeves

Gareth Cleeves is a Product Manager at NTT ICT, the Australian arm of NTT Communications.  He works with both products developed locally by NTT ICT, acting as the product owner and architect, as well as global products developed by NTT Communications, working to localise and commercialise products from across the...

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Added 4 March 2019

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