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The enterprise challenge: Managing a multi-cloud environment in a post-pandemic world

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses across the globe have transformed their operations and cultures. We are now living the “next normal,” and adoption of new, digital technologies have been accelerated. Indeed, according to McKinsey, the global adoption of digitization has increased to 55 percent in the last seven years.

While the shift towards the cloud was already well underway, Covid-19 has accelerated it. Today, cloud is a crucial facet for business operations and has turned even those who have been “cloud-shy” to make the move. But with this shift comes complexity—and enterprises need to carefully consider their management of new infrastructures.

In fact, IDC predicts as we enter the next decade, over 90 percent of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their needs.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach because every business has different needs. And in the current marketplace, options are so varied, making it easy to become a victim of the paradox of choice. As a result, most businesses will find they operate a multi-cloud environment, which is made up of multiple vendors—enabling them to scale up and down as they please.

In this post-pandemic world, it has become even more critical to have full visibility across an enterprise’s operations. Understanding performance, traffic, and availability will help ensure a handle on costs and efficiency.

What drives a multi-cloud strategy?

There are several reasons why an enterprise will opt for a multi-cloud approach, but it’s mainly for agility and to avoid vendor lock-in. This is especially important post-Covid-19, where enterprises need to be able to scale up and down as needed.

Indeed, research from Gartner found one of the most widely cited reasons for multi-cloud adoption was the desire to avoid becoming locked into a particular cloud provider’s infrastructure. Add-on services and deals driven by loyalty can be appealing, but an over-reliance on a single vendor is bad news if you want to scale and move.

And in this multi-cloud world, what are the best ways of managing it to be assured of success?

1. Put Security at the Top of the Agenda

Security is an important part of any cloud strategy and should always be prioritized. If your cloud network isn’t secure, then your business is at risk.

Where enterprises are expanding into a larger digital environment, vulnerability levels will increase, simply by the risk created by multiple entry pathways, rather than relying on a single access point. For this reason, it’s essential for IT teams to maintain visibility—because in turn, this enables better governance and control.

To effectively identify points of risk across both public and private cloud environments, visibility of the entire network is crucial. This provides a greater view into the cloud environment and mitigates the risk of shadow IT. Shadow IT involves the use of different software without approval or visibility from IT and security departments. By auditing the cloud environment through seeing what’s being used within the business, it roots out any rogue pieces of software bad actors could use as an access point. By auditing from a security perspective, it also enables you to see where improvements can be made and where possible cloud migrations could happen.

After looking for potential cloud migrations, it’s important to look at the arguments for some workloads to stay on-premises. Many servers with sensitive, personal data such as banking details and contact information should stay in-house under lock and key. To comply regulatory and compliance requirements, it’s advised to see how essential it really is to move everything to the cloud.

2. Evaluate Services Regularly

After evaluating your services from a security perspective, you’re already on a stronger path to better managing your multi-cloud environment. With a more holistic view of the cloud tools your business is using, it’s time to start critiquing it from a cost-savings perspective.

One of the biggest issues a business can encounter when migrating is wasting their cloud dollar, like paying for more capacity than needed. ParkMyCloud reported some of their customers wasted as much as $5.24 million a year—and in this turbulent economic environment, identifying IT cost optimization and savings like this could make or break a business.

To make sure your cloud investment isn’t squandered, evaluate your services regularly. Not long after the service has been implemented, check whether each new service is proving the most value, examine whether it’s worth the cost, and determine if there are better and/or less-expensive alternatives.

3. Pay Attention to People

Throughout this process of monitoring, it’s is also important to pay close attention to how people within the business and or customers are using the cloud platforms available to them. By monitoring the platforms use with infrastructure solutions, you can get a good idea of how much it’s used or if it’s used at all. These are some of the best indicators of identifying which platforms need the most attention or if a service needs to be improved or even scrapped altogether.

Ultimately this helps identify the most useful and relevant platforms to your business and weed out any potential platforms wasting business resources.

Not only does this give you a good idea of what needs improving in the present, but it also helps you plan for the future—which given the uncertainty many businesses face at the moment, is advised.

Focus on success for the future

Cloud adoption in the enterprise is high and is only set to increase. So, whether you’re just getting started or have operated a multi-cloud environment for some time, it’s important to remain vigilant. By monitoring and ensuring visibility of the network and services, enterprises can make sure to get the most out of their cloud dollars, in a secure way, always.

Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Sascha Giese is a Head Geek™ at SolarWinds, based in the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Cork, Ireland.