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MULTI-CLOUD IS THE NEW REALITY

MULTI-CLOUD

Organizations are adopting multicloud for flexibility to facilitate remote work and collaboration with partners and suppliers 

More organizations are shifting to a multi-Cloud environment as digital transformations mature to meet strategic objectives such as infrastructure resilience, risk mitigation, real-time data harvesting and processing. According to a study by Oracle and 451, 98 percent of enterprises surveyed in India are using or plan to use at least two cloud infrastructure providers and 33 percent are using four or more. And 96 percent reported in India they are using or plan to use at least two cloud application providers (Software-as-a-Service), with 51 percent using cloud applications from five or more providers. 

This multicloud strategy allows IT departments to meet the specific technology needs of different teams across the organization. Businesses understand that digital-led innovation is the only way to beat unpredictability, and so investments in Cloud must continue.  

What’s more important is that business differentiation is increasingly being driven by analytics and artificial intelligence and multi-Cloud becomes an imperative to ensure consistent data collection for geographically dispersed businesses.   

“Dell as a company is focused on digital transformation with a data-led strategy using 5G, cybersecurity, edge and multicloud. Even Dell Technologies as a company is invested in all of these aspects and we have an offering called Project APEX which is primarily a portfolio of as-a-service to simplify digital transformation. Internally we have a similar consumption-based model within Dell IT and a similar multicloud strategy,” says Ramesh Jampula, Vice President, IT, India and APJC Regional CIO, at Dell Technologies. 

Globally same imperatives are driving multi-cloud adoption. The tenth annual Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, found that 92 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy with 82% percent enterprises having a hybrid Cloud strategy. In 2023, the same survey finds the multi-Cloud momentum continues to be strong with 87% respondents embracing multi-Cloud. A large percentage of this is hybrid environment while 15% actually use multiple private Cloud.  

Operational Complexities of Managing Multi-Cloud  

Multicloud and hybrid environments present fresh challenges including skillset requirements, siloed teams, security complexities and getting visibility across environments. Importantly, multi-Cloud initiatives are also faced with operational issues including Cloud spend and security. 

“As more organizations adopt multi-cloud strategies that incorporate public, co-location, and corporate clouds, security complexities are becoming increasingly challenging including data breaches, insider threats, and compliance issues. The complexity of managing security across multiple clouds makes it difficult for organizations to gain a complete view of their security posture, leaving them vulnerable to attack,” says Muath AlHomoud, Executive Director, Cyber Security, D360 Bank.  

“Organizations face issues with integration, application migration, and maintaining control and visibility across their multi-cloud environment. Multi-cloud strategy must align with business objectives and avoid creating silos. A robust multi-cloud strategy addresses security, compliance, and data management concerns and also establish clear governance, control frameworks while also selecting the right mix of cloud service providers,” says Piyush Somani, Managing Director and Chairman ESDS Software Solution.  

The Flexera Survey for 2023 finds managing Cloud spend at the top challenge wherein respondents indicate an acute awareness of costs, as indicated by their prioritization of cost control efforts over security for the first time in a decade. Security and lack of technical expertise also figure as top challenges for Cloud adopters. 

While multi-Cloud can offer benefits such as flexibility, scalability, and cost savings, it also comes with operational complexities and security risks. Businesses should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of multi-Cloud before deciding whether it is the right choice.     

Managing multiple cloud providers can be complex and requires specific Cloud skills. This can result in increased costs, time, and resources needed to manage and maintain multi-cloud environments. At the operational level, IT is challenged to manage multi-Cloud which fragments into separate tool sets for each cloud platform, creating islands of disjointed cloud. It becomes difficult for IT to achieve consistency in managing and monitoring policy enforcement, security, compliance, cost and service levels. 

“Dell as a company is focused on digital transformation with a data-led strategy using 5G, cybersecurity, edge and multicloud.” Ramesh Jampula, Vice President, IT, India and APJC Regional CIO, at Dell Technologies. 

Cloud Sprawl and Cost Management 

Cloud sprawl creeps in easily in a multi-Cloud environment due to multiple environment and the easy ability to turn on resources. Often different team turn on resources for specific objectives and use cases but forget to switch off resources once the activity is completed. This is the flip side of on-demand computing marked by self-service where unused resources can inflate the Cloud bill negating the benefits of Cloud capabilities.  

This is playing out in the market as multi-Cloud adoption matures and organizations are beginning to feel the pinch of unhealthy practices. 82% of the surveyed respondents in the 2023 Flexera survey indicated Cloud cost management as the top challenge.   

“In a multi-cloud environment, managing cost and pricing issues can become more complicated as organizations deal with multiple cloud service providers with varying pricing models and billing structures. Working with a Cloud Service Brokerage (CSB) can provide better visibility into cloud usage, negotiate better pricing and billing structures, and optimize costs. Secondly, automated cost management help organizations gain better control over their cloud spend and reduce wasteful spending. Lastly, committing to long-term usage and leveraging reserved instances can significantly reduce cloud spend,” says Somani.  

“In a multi-cloud environment, managing cost and pricing can become more complicated as organizations deal with multiple cloud service providers with varying pricing models and billing structures. Working with a Cloud Service Brokerage can provide better visibility into cloud usage, negotiate better pricing and billing structures.”  Piyush Somani, Managing Director and Chairman ESDS Software Solution

“A robust multi-cloud strategy addresses security, compliance, and data management concerns and also establish clear governance, control frameworks while also selecting the right mix of cloud service providers.”  

Piyush Somani, Managing Director and Chairman ESDS Software Solution 

Multi-Cloud ecosystems become even more complex as there are different tool sets and challenges related to inter-operability of monitoring tools across public Clouds. The way to combat this ensuring awareness with consistent education and communication, a vigilant environment and high- level of transparency in the operating environment.  

While on the technology side, a multi-Cloud environment delivers value only when there is a seamless movement of data and application interaction across environments. Organizations must adopt a centralized management approach to gain visibility into the multi-cloud environment and identify areas where they can optimize their cloud spend like for example, identifying areas where resources are underutilized. They can also optimize their cloud spend by automating routine tasks such as scaling and provisioning which will help reduce costs by ensuring that resources are only used when needed.  

“Security should be integrated into the cloud infrastructure from the outset, rather than added as an afterthought. This can be achieved by incorporating security measures such as encryption, monitoring, and intrusion detection into the design of cloud-based systems.” Muath AlHomoud, Executive Director, Cyber Security, D360 Bank

“The complexity of managing security across multiple clouds makes it difficult for organizations to gain a complete view of their security posture, leaving them vulnerable to attack,”  

Muath AlHomoud, Executive Director, Cyber Security, D360 Bank

CloudOps Teams require predictive analytics and automation to get insights and guidance to scale cloud infrastructure as required, optimize cost and monitor utilization continuously and ensure availability of compute resources.  

Cloud sprawl results in adding burden on the IT staff who may not have the appropriate skills to manage a multi-cloud environment effectively or even resolve complexities. Managing cost and pricing issues in multi-cloud environments requires careful planning, centralized management, automation, and the right tools and pricing models. By taking a strategic approach to managing cloud costs, these organizations can achieve significant cost savings and optimize their multi-cloud environment. 

Managing Security in Multi-Cloud  

Each organization’s cloud strategy is tailored to its own needs, which means there is no one-size-fits-all approach to security. Most organizations use more than one cloud provider to limit the risk of a single point of failure. 

As multi-Cloud environments operate in a diverse and expansive landscape, CISOs and security teams often struggle to manage and secure environments and workloads across private and different public clouds.    

Also managing data across multiple clouds can be challenging so they should have the right management tool to simplify managing multiple cloud environment. Organizations must ensure adequate security measures in place to protect their data and applications. 

“One approach to address these challenges is to adopt a holistic cloud security strategy that incorporates a range of tools and best practices. This includes leveraging cloud security solutions that provide visibility and control across all cloud environments, implementing strong access controls and identity management practices, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.” says Mouth AlHomoud.  

According to the 2023 Cloud Security Report, as organizations continue to embrace the cloud and its many benefits, nearly all organizations surveyed report moderate to extreme concern about cloud security. 

Describing Dell’s security approach in a multi-cloud environment, Ramesh Jhumpala adds, “We have a cybersecurity strategy using Dell power protect cyber recovery solutions, the zero trust architecture, and everything that you see as a product and services that we sell to our customers.”  

The rising concern could be due to increased compliance requirements and lack of transparency. Managing compliance across multiple clouds will be difficult, especially when dealing with different regulatory bodies in different regions. Organizations need a consistent and tightly integrated approach to cloud security.  

A unified mesh architecture which combines security, cloud, networking, and endpoint solutions into a single system provide visibility and centralized control across complex, environments. When the central platform is equipped with integration capabilities and automation, making it easier for security teams to coordinate quickly and respond to threats in real time. 

Only a comprehensive security policy to protect data and applications can strengthen security in multi-Cloud environment. This includes identity and access management, anti-ransomware, encryption, and network security. Strong authentication mechanisms like multi-factor authentication ensures only authorized users can have access to cloud resources. Regular security updates for all software and tools used in multi-cloud environment will help build fences against security vulnerabilities. A good practice is to conduct regular security audits to identify potential security gaps in multi-cloud and take corrective action to address them.  

Extracting the Best of Multi-Cloud  

As organizations build business continuity and resilience multi-Cloud is a norm than an exception. It is a big business enabler and operational complexities and risk factors can be managed with the appropriate strategy.   

Muath AlHomoud says the best way forward is to be proactive, “By providing regular training and awareness programs for employees to raise awareness of the risks associated with multi-cloud environments. A proactive approach and implementing best practices can help organizations effectively manage the security complexities of multi-cloud environments to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of critical assets.” 

Conducting regular security assessments and audits of each cloud environment to identify and address vulnerabilities and risks. Establishing clear policies and procedures for access management, identity and access management (IAM), data protection, and incident response.  

“Additionally, security should be integrated into the cloud infrastructure from the outset, rather than added as an afterthought. This can be achieved by incorporating security measures such as encryption, monitoring, and intrusion detection into the design of cloud-based systems,” adds AlHomoud. 

Organizations need to carefully evaluate the potential benefits and risks of multi-cloud. Multi-cloud can be good if it aligns with the specific needs and objectives of the organization and if the organization has the necessary resources and expertise to manage and maintain the multi-cloud environment effectively. 

That is why many organizations embrace hybrid cloud which combines a privately hosted cloud with at least one public cloud service provider, all managed as a single, policy-based environment. On-prem infrastructure is extended by public cloud resources in a wide range of use cases such as dev/test, backup and archiving, bursting production workloads to meet sudden demand, and more. 

A single pane of glass management and monitoring tool with a view on everything including, maintenance, upgrades, capacity, functionality, any potential issues like upgrades or more storage needed, will help support and take away some of the complexity.  

Multi-Cloud strategy avoids vendor lock-in, enhances business continuity, and maximizes flexibility for development teams. While many organizations are drawn to multi-Cloud for obvious benefits, it can become a liability in the absence of a disciplined approach and a comprehensive monitoring and management system. Organizations are learning it the hard way and many are drifting towards single Cloud usage as is evident in the State of Cloud Report 2023 wherein multi-Cloud decreased from 89% to 87% and single Cloud usage increased from 9% to 11% this year.  

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