Enterprises worldwide are achieving considerable cost savings, increased flexibility and improved operational efficiency by shifting data and workloads to a cloud environment. Many organizations are already managing multiple clouds, but they are doing so inefficiently. With the prevalence of mergers and acquisitions, and the continued introduction of new cloud-based services, multicloud environments are growing in size and complexity. 

This paper describes the key challenges facing enterprises today as they make the leap into the multicloud landscape. We suggest best practices, including a model for successfully operating in a multicloud environment.

Key challenges

The overall goal for any organization is to operate IT and manage multiple clouds with scale, resilience and speed. But managing multiple clouds can be a complex and daunting task, with enterprises facing the following challenges:

Operational sprawl. Managing multiple separate cloud environments can create operational sprawl, leading to inconsistent approaches to different cloud providers, difficulty maintaining skilled resources for each new cloud type, and an overall inability of cloud to support the operational performance of critical applications for the business. 

Fragmented approach. For many enterprises, current organizational models aren’t necessarily compatible with today’s cloud computing environment. Some companies are taking a fragmented approach with different tools and different toolsets, and they lack a clear definition of the responsibilities between traditional IT and the business side. 

Loss of control. With multiple separate cloud environments to manage, each cloud team may have disparate operating models, creating inefficiency, lack of standardization, and loss of control for IT leaders.

Business leaders have to determine how to approach the multicloud journey and focus on the things that are important as an enterprise first, and then start integrating those into the overall operating model. These are the best practices taking full advantage of multicloud environments.

Marketing Data mangement platform and Omnichannel concept image. Omnichannel element icons on abstract Fashion stroe background.

Maximizing the multicloud model

Focus on organization and culture. Enterprises need to consider a number of areas when operating a multicloud landscape, and it all starts with establishing the proper organization and fostering the right culture. 

Begin by looking at your IT services portfolio and at how your people, processes and technologies span the multicloud. To deliver those services effectively you’ll need to enact a common governance model that addresses risk and compliance at an enterprise level. In addition, you’ll need to define a process and automation strategy, as well as decide what performance measures will be used to define operational success.

Embrace automation. One of the key tenets of success in a multicloud environment is automating manual processes as much as possible. This creates consistent practices and incorporates business intelligence without a great deal of effort. Automation reduces time to market, allowing enterprises to get their application teams up to speed faster with the services they need. 

Automation enables an enterprise to automate tedious and repetitive manual tasks and move its people into higher levels of work. From a technology standpoint, automation can be used for building out workloads and deploying them into whichever cloud type is appropriate. The key is to develop blueprints such as predefined infrastructure as code that actually creates the workloads and deploys them in a way that is consistent and repeatable with no human intervention required. 

Create consistency. A key to success in managing a multicloud operation is establishing consistency across the enterprise in everything — from the way clouds are deployed to the way services are delivered. A consistent model to streamline management working across multiple clouds reduces complexity and the chance for errors. 

To build a consistent view across multiple clouds, you can create a virtual environment that combines compute, storage, network infrastructure and applications into a single platform for optimizing the introduction of new services across multiple clouds. However, when managing a consistent multicloud landscape, CIOs should keep in mind that picking the tools is not as important as putting the right processes in place. 

Establish governance and cost controls. Good, sound governance is not about people and meetings, but about applying consistent policies and processes in an automated fashion. 

Cloud governance policies serve as guidelines for operating in a multicloud environment and can be used in areas such as performance management and establishing standard configurations. Controls and policies can be established at many different levels such as deploying a workload only if it meets certain requirements. Much of this can be done in an automated fashion with policy enforcement so that a properly implemented governance model equates to speed and is not an impediment. Cost control has several aspects, starting with accurate reporting of utilization. This can be accomplished with a number of tools, which can be built into alerts that are triggered when cost thresholds are exceeded. Alerts can be set to be very specific, allowing enterprises to closely manage costs from a public cloud perspective. 

Optimize workloads to the strengths of each cloud. A multicloud environment provides the advantage of placing workloads based on the strengths of the native services or capabilities of each cloud model. Managing workloads to the strengths of each cloud type is a key to success in managing multiple clouds. 

In assessing top hyperscalers, certain cloud providers have strengths in specific areas. For example, for enterprises looking to leverage AI and machine learning, the Google Cloud Platform might be the best choice. Microsoft Azure offers enhanced security and tight integration with other Microsoft products. AWS offers a wealth of native tools and automation. If an organization has compliance or other types of restrictions and must keep data in certain regions, a private cloud may be the best option. 

Maintain security and compliance. It is essential to consistently maintain security and compliance across multiple clouds in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you with information or by requiring different tools. Establish that tools and processes don’t have to be modified when the services of a hyperscaler are called upon or a new cloud provider is added. 

From a security standpoint, a cloud access and identity management approach provides the mechanism, processes and tools for gaining access into cloud environments. A managed services provider can control that privilege and access for multicloud environments on behalf of your enterprise. The provider can ensure that changes to the environment don’t violate any of the security processes established for individual workloads. 

Every enterprise’s compliance needs are unique and are sometimes regionally specific. This requires a catalog of identified data types and workload types and policies to ensure they are managed in the appropriate cloud type. For example, workloads can be tagged for a private cloud instance only, in order to meet both security and residency requirements. 

Monitor performance. A multicloud landscape can deliver multiple benefits, and it is important for enterprises to closely monitor performance to quantify what advantages are being delivered. A managed services provider can help you build a single control plane to more easily manage your multicloud environment, but also measure the performance. The control plane is a set of tools and processes to manage the entire multiple cloud landscape, such as provisioning of either a catalog item, or DevOps-type of infrastructure as code. 

The control plane gives enterprises visibility into events and incidents across the multicloud landscape. It also provides visibility into costs and cost controls that are in place across the landscape, while providing a high level of orchestration and automation that spans a multicloud environment. The goal is to glean business intelligence out of the control plane that can be used to make decisions quickly. 

Conclusion

Effective management of a multicloud environment can make a big difference in the flexibility and extensibility of your enterprise, and ensure that new providers and new services can be added in a consistent way. Embracing automation and maintaining consistency across the enterprise via the implementation of sound governance and policies will lead to successful multicloud management. But enterprises can’t do it alone. An experienced managed multicloud services provider can help you with the transition to a simplified multicloud environment. The provider can offer experienced staff and processes to reduce operational complexity, optimize resources with centralized controls across multiple cloud environments and provide fit-for-purpose workload management

How DXC can help

DXC Technology, the world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company, manages and modernizes mission-critical systems, integrating them with new digital solutions to produce better business outcomes. 

As a provider of managed multicloud services, DXC accelerates deployment of a complete managed virtual environment in highly available and secure private and public clouds to help organizations reduce IT operating costs, deploy applications faster, and shorten time to market for new products and services. DXC provides a managed virtual environment that comprises compute, storage and network infrastructure as well as applications. Our solution provides a consistent control plane to manage services on any cloud, enabling a flexible, cloud-agnostic strategy. 

The company’s global reach and talent, innovation platforms, technology independence and extensive partner network enable more than 6,000 private and public sector customers in 70 countries to thrive on change. With 100,000-plus VMware virtual servers under management around the globe and 2,000-plus certified VMware professionals, DXC provides you with the certainty that your environment is in good hands. 

Learn how to master multicloud management with DXC Hybrid Cloud and Multicloud services.

About the author

About the author

James Miller is DXC Technology’s chief technology officer and vice president for Cloud and Platform Services. He builds key customer relationships, advises senior leadership on technology trends and initiatives, and provides oversight and thought leadership to grow DXC and customer business. Previously, Jim was a Fellow and industry chief technologist for manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defense, and strategic accounts at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.