Organise Your Multi-Cloud Environment

Rackspace recently worked with CIO UK to produce a series of articles looking at how CIOs can develop and implement agendas that drive modernisation and technology transformation across organisations.

This article looks into how CIOs can bring order to a multi-cloud environment, and work with MSPs to develop effective strategies to manage the resources that their businesses depend on.

CIOs and business technology leaders face a constant balancing act between deploying new technologies fast enough to enable constant innovation while at the same time ensuring security, sustainability and value for money.

The scale of the challenge can be seen in the use of multiple clouds in most enterprise IT organisations, with these environments often without the knowledge – let alone sanction – of the IT department.

Most importantly though, CEOs who are determined to drive digital transformation of their organisation have laid down the parameters for business unit leaders and the CIO to drive towards common goals.

Despite this progress, problems often remain with enterprises struggling to bring order and design to cloud and on premise systems. Organisations deploy multiple clouds for good reasons – each cloud allows part of the business to deliver vital services.

But while the cloud computing promise of agility, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness may make sense for individual services in isolation, when the picture is repeated many times across an enterprise, CIOs are left struggling to balance the gain with the pain caused by new complexity.

Bringing order to multi-cloud
The CIO’s challenge is to bring order to the multi-cloud environment and to develop an effective strategy to understand and manage the mix of cloud resources upon which their businesses depend.

The potential sources of help are almost as numerous and confusing as a typical enterprise IT infrastructure map.  Hyperscale providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, offer cloud services. Enterprise software giants such as Oracle and SAP seek to entice the CIO onto their platforms, as do cloud native giants such as Salesforce. At the same time many cloud tools providers are pitching themselves as the key to controlling and orchestrating multi-cloud environments.

The CIO’s main task is surely to identify which clouds offer innovation and agility, which workloads are best suited for public cloud and which workloads are better run in a private cloud. Beyond that, they should be planning benchmarking and price comparisons and assessing flexibility according to workload need.

“To get there,” says Giorgio Nebuloni, research director, European Multi-cloud Infrastructure at analyst group, “a central point of control based on software and potentially services is needed, as are strategic approaches to skillsets, processes, and datacentre infrastructure.”

Few enterprise IT organisations have the full set of technology or the skills required – and few cloud brokerage services have the enterprise insights required to give CIOs the rounded guidance they require.

Managed cloud service providers, such as Rackspace, help enterprises plot their cloud journey. They can help align business objectives with the appropriate architecture to deliver in the here and now and in the future.

‘The choices made by CIOs have a profound business impact and that’s why they need unbiased advice and direction,’ says Wilco Noordemeer, Rackspace EMEA’s lead consulting architect.

‘The speed at which the different cloud providers are releasing new features on their platforms is staggering. Adopting architectural patterns and standards can help enterprises to see the forest through the trees and allow them to make best use of the opportunities that these new technical toolboxes provide.’

CIOs have always battled complexity and cloud has added to their challenges.

‘There is a lot to take in’ says Noordermeer. ‘The cloud platforms allow for quick experimentation and use of specific functionality to quickly solve a problem at hand. However, it can come at the risk of losing grip on what’s going on in your environment. Governance, both through the use of tooling and adoption of architectural standards and patterns can help to manage the complexity. By aligning this governance framework across the different platforms, it becomes easier for organisations to stay in control across the technologies and platforms they adopt.’

Working with cloud MSPs
Managed cloud service providers such as Rackspace can also bring economies of scale in their relationships with hyperscale providers and deliver vendor-aligned architecture reviews, such as the AWS Well-Architected Framework or best-practice alignment reviews for Microsoft Azure Cloud, Google Cloud Platform or Alibaba Cloud, when appropriate. Few enterprise IT departments have such skills in house and buying them in piecemeal consultancy is hardly cost effective.

Finding a partner for your cloud journey is essential; whether you are beginning with an incomplete view of your technology estate and no clear strategy, or your organisation has a well-defined plan but needs help with execution, or simply one that requires additional resources to support business development opportunities.

Get this right and CIOs can focus on delivering technology platforms that can offer agility, innovation and long-term value to the business. Fail to get a grip on your multi-cloud environment and you will be overwhelmed by complexity.

Rackspace’s solution engineers have deep experience and expertise in the world’s leading cloud platforms. Click here to learn how Rackspace Professional Services can help you manage, and deliver value in, multi-cloud environments.

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