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Considering best practices for multicloud infrastructures
As greater numbers of enterprises embrace cloud solutions, finding the best fit for business-critical applications often leads to solutions which span multiple cloud services vendors.
But how can your organization ensure the right environment is in place to support multiple vendors and multiple cloud solutions?
We consider recent analyst data on multiclouds, key challenges in managing these hybrid infrastructures as well as some best practices to guide your organization’s future cloud strategy.
Considering analyst findings
With organizations choosing different clouds for their specific workloads, multicloud is the norm today. A Forrester survey last year cited that close to 62% of public cloud adopters were using more than two unique cloud environments or platforms. Another report by Gartner says that by 2020, 75% of organizations will have deployed a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud model.
Low latency, regulatory compliance, flexibility and scalability, and security are some of the reasons organizations have adopted a multicloud or hybrid cloud model. The challenges in a multicloud world make it extremely difficult for organizations to achieve optimal efficiency and performance across multiple cloud environments.
An IDC report last year highlights some of the key challenges for organizations operating in a multicloud environment. Some of the top challenges include meeting security and compliance standards, optimizing spend, and maintaining application performance.
Similarly, a Forrester survey last year described that only 42% of the respondents could regularly optimize cloud spending, while only 37% could enforce capacity limits or expirations.
Most organizations also end up shooting their cloud infrastructure -as-a-service (IaaS) budgets, while a significant majority do not optimize their cloud workloads. With lack of a proper governance framework, a significant number of organizations end up accidentally exposing their data or services.
In our view, there are some key challenges for organizations operating in a multicloud environment.
As organizations start deploying multiple clouds, they are challenged by the lack of visibility across divisions or regions. Additionally, in the absence of a central console, organizations struggle to gain information or knowledge about cost, usage, security, performance, availability and configuration in a multicloud environment.
In a multicloud environment, enterprises find it challenging to monitor and secure all the different IT systems, as there is no single point of control to monitor security and compliance. As a result, patching and configuration management across different systems isextremely challenging. Additionally, in many instances, the existing system and application-centric security controls that are prevalent for the on-premises infrastructure, do not extend to the cloud. This creates risks when information is moved to a cloud environment. Enterprises also have to plan for identity and access management, which may require a different solution for the cloud. This makes enterprises vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.
The cloud's inherent capability of being flexible can also lead to overspending or overprovisioning. Many organizations end up spinning too many server instances which never get used. Once created and used for a specific period, many of these instances are not de-provisioned even after they serve no purpose. Typically, in the absence of a central console, organizations do not know which divisions or business groups are consuming which cloud resources.
Without a standard governance model, organizations will struggle to ensure budget control, compliance and security. This could impact financial management governance (for example, tracking cloud spend and tracking variance of budget versus actual usage, etc.) or infrastructure governance (tracking and eliminating infrastructure issues that do not meet required standards of compliance and security).
Pillars of a successful multicloud strategy
To mitigate these issues, organizations must have the ability to do the following activities in an automated manner:
A single pane of glass that shows statistics such as cloud usage and its overall impact on cost, performance and scalability.
Organizations must be able to analyze asset performance metrics to help solve business challenges by visualizing and correcting underutilized resources.
Organizations must be able to assess the impact of workloads on different cloud resources by doing a side-by-side cost comparison.
Cloud security and compliance
In most recent cloud-based outages, cloud misconfiguration is the single greatest reason for the outage. Organizations must have the ability to improve their cloud’s security posture with real-time visibility into misconfigurations based on out-of-the-box security rules and custom policies. Similarly, organizations must also be able to continuously benchmark compliance and automate reporting for frameworks and track compliance scores and open violations.
Uncovering hidden costs
Using analytics, organizations must be able to identify opportunities to reduce costs based on historical usage. They must also be able to identify ghost virtual servers or instances that are not used. Organizations must also be able to define and compare their cloud budgets according to different business units or divisions. This helps in forecasting and predicting if the cloud spend will exceed the sanctioned budget.
Looking ahead to an automated multicloud solution
All the above issues can be solved by automating governance policies and increasing accountability. For example, a cloud automation tool such as CloudHealth by VMware, can quickly identify opportunities to proactively reduce spend, remediate risks and streamline configuration. Organizations can easily maintain control over their cloud environment with custom policies and workflows that are uniquely based on how they want to run their specific organizations.
In summary, by automating policy management for standardized cloud operations, organizations can reduce the risk of security violations or overspend, and increase efficiency to dedicate more time to business growth and for driving innovation.