Majority of companies have now embraced multi-cloud environments. According to research, over 85 per cent of enterprises have reported that they now run a multi-cloud environment. A further 76 per cent of organisations have said that they run between two and 15 hybrid clouds.
Companies leverage multi-cloud environments because of the flexibility and power that it enables. As more enterprises look to AI, automation, and edge computing deployment, multi-cloud environments are standard and essential.
But this causes challenges, too:
- Control and co-ordination become a challenge when organisations adopt a multi-cloud environment alongside their traditional internal and external provision models.
- There is also strategic challenge, with CIOs struggling to articulate whether they have adopted the right cloud providers to meet objectives that have often been poorly defined.
- Finally, there is significant cyber risk associated with complex multi-cloud environments that often leave “gaps” in the defences that can be exploited by cyber-criminals.
Addressing these challenges has led to a renewed focus on the service concept of SIAM. Service Integration and Management (SIAM) is, in simple terms, a management methodology that can be applied to an environment that includes services sourced from several service providers.
It is a new label for a traditional practice, Shane Johnson, Director at ITSM Hub said in an interview with IDG Communications.
“The practices that frames the SIAM approach have been around since the early 2000s, but it used to be called managed or multiple vendor management, complex multi service provision management, or similar terms. And indeed, back in 2014, we were doing this kind of work, but we did not really give it the label of ‘SIAM’,” Johnson said.
“But it’s really a methodology that allows organisations to address the complexity of managing multiple service providers for their IT services. And it’s very much something that’s become front and centre in the last year or so.”
The challenges that SIAM address have typically been experienced by large enterprises with diverse sourcing arrangements, Johnson said. These organisations have also had the capabilities and capacity to resource, architect and incorporate newer multi-cloud service provision arrangements into their operating models. Rather, it is the medium and smaller organisations, that are coming to multi-sourcing via multi-cloud for the first time, that are being overwhelmed by the density and complexity of such arrangements.
What exactly does SIAM solve?
There are several red flags that a multi-cloud environment will raise that will indicate that SIAM might be a necessary solution. These include (but are not limited to):
- Uncertainty regarding the duties of each cloud vendor.
- A lack of co-ordination among each vendor in the cloud.
- The reporting and quality assurance process is becoming expensive, complex, and labour-intensive.
- There is a rapid escalation in the need of diverse IT services and clouds.
- There are performance issues with the environment that have been noted by both internal and external stakeholders.
- The multi-cloud environment is causing security issues, or there has been a data breach.
What is the best way for SIAM to be implemented?
As with any IT services model, there is the potential for a SIAM arrangement to have a negative impact on the organisation. If it is poorly managed, SIAM can end up costing more than the benefits it returns, service quality might decline, or the SIAM model becomes restrictive, by not being scalable as the business needs to take on additional clouds. There are a couple of best practices that can help to mitigate these risks, however:
- Have a clear strategy beforehand; organisations are looking to SIAM because the ad-hoc adoption of cloud services has left them in a challenging and unfocused position. Adding SIAM practices and structures without a clear rationale, strategy and roadmap will further complicate the situation.
- Be forward-thinking with current and future service contracts; Consider the contractual implications of appointing a Service Integrator organisation (internal or external) to coordinate service provision and act on your behalf.
- Consider the suitability of your service providers to participate in a SIAM arrangement; are they a stop-gap measure, or are they part of a wider sourcing strategy? Consolidate where practical, to reduce the service integration complexity.
Properly implemented, SIAM will result in a better service to end-users, greater cost-efficiency with multi-cloud environments, improved accountability and reporting, and greater innovation, too, with the organisation having better access to a broader range of clouds and services, with a stronger strategic imperative behind them.
It is worth noting, however, that SIAM is not the solution in and of itself. Finding the right partner is important, but more critically, so is being able to have the strategic imperatives articulated up-front.
For more information on SIAM and to receive a Strategic Considerations paper on adopting SIAM click here.