Over the past few years, companies have moved more of their data, applications, and development work to the cloud. This trend has increased significantly since the coronavirus pandemic caused an increase in remote work and e-commerce activity.
Organizations are launching or expanding their multi-cloud strategies more than ever as they drive digital transformation and address the new challenges posed by the global health crisis and its impact on business processes. According to a recent IDG study, cloud platforms play an important role in helping organizations respond to crises by providing operational resilience and the tools they need to work from home.
According to a survey of 551 IT decision makers by IDG, more than half currently use multiple public cloud services, and 21% say they use three or more cloud services. I am.
However, there are clear challenges in operating and managing an environment supported by multiple cloud providers and services. IT and business leaders need to address these hurdles to help organizations succeed in the multi-cloud world.
Determine the right cloud service for your job
Not all cloud services are equivalent when it comes to supporting specific applications, workloads, and business processes. Organizations traveling in the multi-cloud must strive to find the best service for a particular task.
“The first major challenge was to identify, select, and deploy the right services in each cloud environment,” he said.
Samantha Liscio, CIO of the Canadian Workplace Safety Insurance Commission (WSIB), is an agency that provides support and insurance to workers injured at work.
Since late 2017, WSIB has moved from legacy IT infrastructure to the cloud. We have partnered with IT consulting and service provider Accenture to design and execute a transformational program that includes cloud services, new cloud-ready operational models, and enhanced resilient digital services.
Currently, WSIB operates a multi-cloud environment that combines integrated public cloud products with its own private cloud. Dependent cloud providers include ServiceNow, Microsoft Azure, and WSIB’s private cloud hosting providers. Organizations use cloud services for a variety of applications, including employer financial coordination, identity management, digital portals for employee billing information, and billing processing.
“One of the difficult decisions WSIB needs to make is to select the right cloud services from a wide catalog of services offered by major cloud vendors and how they will fit into WSIB’s broader hybrid cloud architecture. It was to understand if it would be integrated, “says Liscio.
Accenture helped WSIB overcome challenges in developing its overall infrastructure strategy by defining cloud service selection criteria and cloud deployment decision frameworks. The WSIB then used it to make important strategic choices, says Liscio.
Match the pieces
In many cases, multi-cloud environments are replacing the proven, cohesive legacy IT infrastructure that has been deployed over the years. To make the migration successful and uninterrupted workflows, businesses need to combine different cloud services like a puzzle.
“The difficulty with multi-cloud management lies in the ability to integrate and operate with multiple diverse technology solutions, standards, and service layers. [offered by the cloud vendors]From a single location — often referred to as a single glass plate, ”says Liscio.
The infrastructure strategy created by WSIB defined a set of important cloud management and operational functions such as orchestration and automation, measurement and billing, and predictive operations. This allows organizations to deploy these features directly or with the help of cloud providers.
As technology landscapes and architectures become more complex, according to Liscio, the challenge of ensuring that these elements are combined can become increasingly difficult for technology and business leaders. This makes effective planning increasingly important.
Accenture helped WSIB shape its multi-cloud architecture to modernize existing aging technologies while introducing new digital services to end users. The organization has developed a multi-cloud strategy to ensure optimal user experience and application availability across various cloud technologies.
One of the key components of the WSIB multi-cloud strategy is the enterprise application gateway, which supports integration across multiple clouds. “Implemented the latest scalable API [application programming interface] The manager of the entire enterprise, “says Liscio. “We needed to make the environment“ future-ready ”to ensure that it could meet the demands of multi-cloud environments and the new technologies that come with them. “
Cost management in complex environments
One of the reasons companies are moving to the cloud is to reduce costs. For example, reduce servers or eliminate on-premises data centers altogether. However, a multi-cloud environment can be a costly task if not managed effectively.
WorldView, a healthcare information system provider, uses cloud services from Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). This includes the provision of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Managing costs was very important. To better monitor the two services and achieve cost savings, WorldView has introduced OpsCompass cloud management software that provides a “dashboard” for the two platforms.
“You can see both AWS and Azure with consistent measurements and monitor cost, rigor, and performance in one place,” said Mark Johnson, WorldView CIO, CISO, and Chief Compliance Officer. “Without Ops Compass, FTE [full-time equivalent] The cost would have doubled, “says Johnson. This includes hiring people with experience on the two platforms and staff time to manage them.
“To make this possible, we needed to systematize a lot of discipline and standards,” says Johnson. “We standardized everything to create a baseline partnership between the two platforms. In essence, to organize and standardize everything, we had to go back to the original lift-and-shift transition. [application dependencies] Also, tag the resources appropriately. Tagging gives organizations a clearer picture of resource consumption on different platforms and better analysis within it. “
To keep costs down, it was important to keep the environment as simple as possible. “Simpleness is paramount,” says Johnson. “The different options on each platform allow for undue agility, but can be costly if not properly managed.”
According to Johnson, it is a risk to allow the multi-cloud strategy and architecture to become more complex over time by combining too many elements. “As with the on-premises architecture, the more parts there are, the more risk increases exponentially,” he says.
One way to simplify the cloud is to use microservices wherever possible, but “sometimes core legacy applications have limited what can create microservices,” Johnson says.
Data protection and privacy
Cyber security is difficult enough when everything is on-premises. The challenge is even greater when data, applications, and platforms are stored in different locations, such as corporate data centers and multiple clouds.
With different security controls for each cloud service, organizational security controls can increase the risk of data breaches.
The internal security model needs to be applied to each cloud in different ways.
“In a multi-cloud environment, how do you ensure that your overall security fabric at the enterprise level is mapped to workloads that are distributed across different regions?” At a financial services technology provider? Navdeep Singh, Vice President of Cloud and Cyber Security at Fiserv, mentioned at the CIO Virtual Roundtable Conference in June 2020.
“And at the same time, what is a consistent and repeatable way for our employees, or anyone about it, to access those environments?” Shin said.
In fact, controlling access is one of the biggest concerns of multi-cloud security. “The challenge common to all multi-clouds is to provide users with seamless access to cloud services based on default credentials, maintain minimal privileged access in all clouds, and risk additional cloud services. It’s about responding to evaluations and reviews, “said CEO Jim Reavis. The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is an organization that provides cloud security education and best practices.
“Organizations need to maintain their ability and knowledge base to use multiple clouds as a risk management strategy and better support their potential as market developments make different clouds more or less attractive. There is, “says Reavis.
Enterprises need a strong cloud-centric identity architecture that works with the cloud services of their choice, Reavis says. “The ability of cloud services to be compatible with open standards of identity needs to be a procurement requirement,” he says. “Organizations need to translate risk appetite for cloud business needs into correct resilience requirements.”
Critical business applications often need to be designed for adequate redundancy by coordinating across multiple workloads. “Company-wide visibility and control of cloud services remains a problem, and the market trend we see is a solution like a cloud access security broker that traditionally controlled access to SaaS applications. Integration between. [and] A cloud workload management solution that runs on the IaaS layer. “
Keep up with the rate of change
Cloud providers regularly introduce new services and upgrades, and the overall market is very dynamic. IT and business leaders need to keep up with the latest changes and make adjustments as needed.
“We have long known that the only immutable thing in business is change,” says Johnson. “This also applies to different cloud platforms,” says cloud service providers. “We are constantly adding new features, deprecating other features, and creating new integrations,” he says.
The way WorldView addresses this challenge is to maintain a learning environment. “My team is always encouraged to work on our core vision and consider new features, integrations, and products that mitigate risk,” says Johnson. “If you find something that looks promising, incorporate it into your proof of concept to narrow down your players.”
After doing a lot of testing in a production-like environment, “we get together as a team to walk through situations, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats,” says Johnson.
This approach allows companies to find the best way to meet their business demands with minimal risk for cloud services. “Rather than waiting for vendors and platforms to enforce the problem, we anticipate changes and address them head-on,” Johnson says.
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Five challenges that every multi-cloud strategy must address
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