Hybrid Multicloud Adoption
Concept to Implementation Blog Series: This blog focuses on the concept of multicloud, which adds new complexity and value as opposed to a single cloud provider.
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- This blog discusses the importance of hybrid multicloud to accelerate business transformation.
- The discussion assumes that the readers are well versed with cloud technology concepts as well as the business value and challenges related to modernizing applications using cloud technologies.
- This blog focuses only on the concept of multicloud, which adds new dimensions of complexity and value as opposed to leveraging a single cloud provider.
Evolution of Hybrid Multicloud
The evolution of cloud computing started with the utility computing concept. It began from the concept of dedicated resources vs. shared resource platforms. Businesses have embraced cloud platforms including private, public, hybrid, and hybrid multicloud.
In a simple term, a hybrid multicloud is the use of hybrid cloud and multicloud models as depicted in diagram 1.
Diagram 1: Hybrid Cloud and Multicloud Defined
Essentially, hybrid multicloud can be broadly defined as effective consumption and operation of cloud components from three dimensions:
- DIMENSION #1: Cloud Service Models: IaaS, PaaS, CaaS, FaaS, SaaS.
- DIMENSION #2: Deployment Options — Mainframe, Edge, distributed infrastructure, Private Cloud (on-premises or at provider), and Public Cloud.
- DIMENSION #3: Multiple cloud service providers and their catalog of services — IBM Cloud, AWS, Microsoft, and Google.
Here is a pictorial representation of multicloud and its three dimensions.
Diagram 2: The Three Dimensions of Multicloud
While businesses drive technology innovation, technology transformation is a continuous process. Every cloud platform has certain pros and cons. For example, legacy applications with intense data processing requirements may be moved to a private cloud without a major investment for application refactoring while newly-built applications (e.g., applications supporting IoT and AI) can take full advantage of public cloud capabilities including cost savings and additional business innovation opportunities that leverage exponential technologies.
Most enterprises have realized that choosing only one particular cloud platform has limitations and can lead to the dreaded vendor lock-in. Leading cloud service providers like AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Google provide a competitive cloud landscape, however, it has been proven that adopting multiple cloud providers can increase the benefits to the business by 2.5 times as compared to a single cloud solution. These additional benefits stem from flexibility, alternatives by geographic region, and the ability to leverage each cloud provider’s unique strengths. Hence many enterprises are implementing a multicloud transformation strategy.
Why It Is Important to The Business
Leveraging multicloud to achieve significant business benefits is not a theory, hypothesis, or hype anymore! According to a recent study by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV), 98% of the study participants responded they plan to fully adopt hybrid multicloud by the year 2021.
Diagram 3: Business outlook
94% of enterprises today are operating in hybrid environments with a mix of public cloud, private cloud, traditional IT, and countless SaaS applications. It’s also noted that 67% are using a mix of multiple cloud vendors, with different tools and management systems for each.
Business leaders demand IT flexibility, security, and access to services on demand. These are qualities that can be achieved with a mature operating model that leverages hybrid multicloud platforms. SaaS providers are another form of public cloud that is attractive for commodity functions in the enterprise.
Value Realization of Hybrid Multicloud
The benefit of Hybrid Multicloud is freedom and flexibility. It brings back a competitive trend: multiple providers with differing offerings, price points, services, tooling, and regional presence. The only distinguishing factor is that the services around multicloud are more tangible — meaning consumable/automation-enabled trackable computing resources — rather than just human resource-centric services. In addition, ease of cloud service acquisition — as simple as opening an online account and using a credit card to pay — made it attractive for the developers who want to try out new things with new technology. That however resulted in the growth of 'Shadow IT' which led to governance and management issues.
From a business perspective, lowering operational and capital expenses, reducing time to value, increasing revenue, and improving customer experiences are some of the strategic reasons to quickly focus on a multicloud strategy. It’s no surprise that 66% of the IBV study participants think that hybrid multicloud will reduce the total cost of operations and 60% responded that multicloud will be a key factor to help improve business revenue. The shift to hybrid multicloud is nowhere more apparent than in the market opportunity it has created. McKinsey & Company has estimated hybrid, multicloud to be a $1.2 trillion market opportunity by 2022, comprised of hardware ($100b), cloud infrastructure ($150b), software ($350b), and consulting and management services ($550b).
Diagram 4: Value realization
Value #1 — Avoiding Vendor Lock-In
The most attractive advantage of a multicloud strategy is the ability to avoid vendor lock-in. Sticking with a single cloud service provider will limit options, add constraints, and impact the organizations’ ability to maximize the benefits of cloud technology.
Diagram 5: A simple illustration of single cloud vs. multicloud
As cloud providers entice enterprises to migrate workloads to the cloud with free and subsidized planning and migration services, they bind customer applications and data to their cloud platform which is most likely not based on open standards.
This makes it complex and costly to move workloads to another cloud provider. This tendency negates the primary driver of cloud enablement: the ability to run, modernize and enhance applications without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure more effectively. It also leads vendors to gouge their customers with complex pricing models that force organizations to keep their workloads where they are because it is too costly to move out.
Value #2 — Achieving Improved Reliability by Avoiding the Risk of Relying on One Vendor
Remember the Amazon S3 breakdown in 2020? A five-hour outage that took down or impacted hundreds of websites (including Amazon’s own site) as well as countless business services, apps and huge volumes of IoT gear! This 'domino effect' was a prime example of what can happen when there is too much reliance on a single cloud service.
A multicloud strategy can also improve reliability by establishing a disaster recovery (DR) environment at fraction of a cost as compared to traditional DR facilities. With an option of pay only what you use and when you use, a passive DR environment will cost less. With a multicloud strategy for DR, an otherwise passive cloud can seamlessly serve as the failover solution when the primary cloud has issues. And, once the primary cloud is back to its normal function, the operations can automatically revert. The most reliable solutions for mission-critical workloads include a mix of multiple cloud providers across multiple regions which mitigates the risk of natural disasters as well as issues specific to one cloud provider.
Value #3 — Best ROI: Minimize TCO and Maximize Cloud Features
Hybrid Multicloud is akin to managed services cost arbitraging of the outsourcing/offshoring paradigm. Every cloud is built differently. These differences not only include technology infrastructure, but also pricing models and policies among other aspects. The continuously- changing landscape drives the consumption prices down.
One of the best use cases to validate the value of cloud arbitrage is through running development and test workloads on one cloud and production on another. The development and test dev/test workloads can be on a cloud that offers low, on-demand cost at the expense of not so stringent non-functional requirements (NFR), such as performance, proximity, and availability, while the production workloads must be in an environment that businesses cannot compromise on any NFRs. As we will explore in this blog, the key to this flexibility is portability and common platform services that work across multiple clouds.
Value #4 — Cloud Agility
Competing in the digital economy depends on the organization’s ability to operate the right workload in the right environments that provide the right innovative technology components at the right location and at the right price. Not every cloud provider offers the same products and features, and some will be better at supporting differing workload types than others.
Choosing a provider is analogous to shopping for pajamas vs. business suits — while pajamas can be purchased in a departmental store, we usually look for specialty stores for business suits. Not every workload is suited to run on the same cloud environment. While a public, SaaS provider may be best suited for human resources or collaboration applications, it will require an advanced technology provider with best-in-class security measures to build and operate a high-volume transactional banking application.
The key challenges of cloud agility are:
- Lack of Knowledge and Skills.
- Security and Compliance.
- Additional complexity stemming from different developer experiences.
By adopting a hybrid multicloud strategy, businesses have the flexibility of choice with options for selecting the right cloud for the right workload for the right price. Combined with avoidance of vendor lock-in, multicloud strategy provides enterprises an ability to change providers based on economic reasons and/or enriched capability (technology or managed services capabilities) reasons. Customers get the flexibility to address changing business needs for performance, security, and returns on investments. Businesses can conduct an evaluation process as they determine what type of platform or service is ideal for individual applications based on functional, non-functional, and business value criteria.
The key areas to focus on for developing a hybrid multicloud strategy for an enterprise are:
- Mindset Change — be prepared to change the company culture, your ways of working. Change and continuous learning are the new normal. Be prepared to explain why leveraging more than one cloud makes good business sense and mitigates risks as the fear of the unknown will often result in resistance to adopting more than one public cloud provider.
- Data and Rules Driven IT Portfolio Analyses — the most mature enterprises have the capability to perform these continuously, as business and IT are so dynamic it is not ok to do this every 5 years anymore using spreadsheets and subjective dispositioning techniques.
- Do not believe that lifting and shifting workloads to the cloud will solve existing issues. Most likely, this approach will make things worse. Modernization is often the best path to business value, especially for mission-critical and differentiating applications. DevSecOps is a must-have, not only for speed and automation but it is also the backbone of the new operating model with built-in guard rails, quality scans, and security controls.
- Encourage your staff to get certified on multiple clouds and to feel comfortable innovating and failing fast.
In the next segment of this blog, we will explore how to create a holistic and business-value-driven multicloud cloud strategy. In order to provide agility, security, reliability, and access to a large ecosystem of services a robust transformation strategy and program are required. This strategy must align with business objectives such as revenue growth, cost reduction, enhancing the customer experience, and capitalization of market opportunities.
While creating many transformation strategies, we have observed that successful IT organizations tightly align their cloud strategies to business objectives, develop a target architecture and operating model blueprint, and quantify the costs and benefits in a business case. These successful strategies also showcase how multicloud enables the qualities of service delivery that the business leads to desire and project a value that is 2.5 times the value of leveraging a single cloud provider. We will share some experiences, best practices, critical success factors as well as antipatterns that have been harvested from hundreds of cloud strategy engagements.
Published at DZone with permission of Ram Ravishankar. See the original article here.
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