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Cloud is now firmly established as a fundamental element in the way most firms provision IT. IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey found that by mid-2021, 16% of CIOs expect their IT environment to be entirely cloud-based, while 43% expect it to be mostly in the cloud. What’s more, more than half of the IT leaders surveyed are already using multiple public clouds.
A recent survey by IDG for Dell technologies and VMware strengthens these points. CIOs are looking to cloud to deliver better capabilities for staff, and improved products and experiences for their customers. They’re looking to accelerate growth and reduce their operating costs. And, increasingly, they’re looking to hybrid or multi-cloud environments to provide environments optimised for different applications. On average, businesses in the EMEA region are deploying more than five different cloud environments, and the survey demonstrates that organisations derive greater benefits from deploying an increased number of separate clouds.
However, the use of cloud comes with drawbacks. IDG’s 2020 Cloud Computing Survey cites issues like the challenges of controlling cloud costs, managing data privacy and security, governance and compliance, and the lack of cloud management expertise. Nearly half of those running multiple clouds experienced increased complexity as a challenge.
The question, then, is how can organisations improve their cloud management to make the most of the efficiencies of cloud without being overwhelmed by the complexity of managing it? We spoke to CIOs, technologists, analysts and IT leaders to find out.
“The challenge many organizations currently face is to how best to orchestrate and manage their deployments across multiple clouds” says Jack Gold, president and principal analyst for J. Gold Associates. Gold estimates that up to 75% of enterprises are now using more than one cloud for their computational needs, and where each cloud instance may have management tools specific to that platform, this is only increasing the burden of management.
“To get truly effective cost and functional management,” Gold explains, “enterprises need to deploy a cross platform, multi-cloud management capability to enable single pane of glass management – both for the clouds themselves, but also for usage policies and security profiles.” Gold also warns that management will get even more challenging as use of cloud at the edge increases, adding that “without such an integrated capability in management, companies face higher costs, sub-optimum cloud performance, and potential security impacts.”
Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research concurs, suggesting that “the best way to improve cloud management is to normalise functions across clouds”.
“The biggest challenge with a hybrid, multi-cloud architecture is that the management tools differ by cloud provider” he explains, which means that “doing even the simplest task can be fraught with complexity as it needs to be repeated per cloud instance, and that leads to human error and inconsistencies.”
Kerravala believes that IT leaders “should look for a cloud management platform that runs across cloud providers to bring a level of consistency to operational processes”, adding that this “leads to faster updates, fewer changes and greater agility.”
Larry Larmeu, enterprise technology leader at Accenture is singing from the same hymn sheet, but feels automation has its part to play.
"Automation and standardisation are key to getting your arms around cloud," he suggests. "Manual processes and constant exceptions don't scale, which is why you see the public cloud providers creating catalogues of standardised services; it is easier to control and scale up."
Christopher Adjei-Ampofo, CIO and head of procurement at Uphold, agrees that higher levels of automation are the answer, and that by automating processes such as installation, configuration, and management of the IT estate, businesses can streamline the work of management and reduce human involvement. This, in turn, can limit errors and minimise both risks and costs. What’s more, he recommends planning for dynamic capacity in advance. The aim, he argues, is “to design your architecture to use autoscaling capabilities to increase and reduce usage requirements as needed.”
Where complexity builds up through using multiple providers, IT leaders might also think about rationalising their cloud provision. "If you can do something with two providers that you are currently doing with three” says Larry Larmeu, “that will reduce complexity and make cloud management easier for your team."
For Chuck Brooks, President of Brooks Consulting International and Georgetown University Faculty in the Graduate Cybersecurity Risk Management Program, managing the data is "a fundamental aspect of cloud management."
Brooks suggests that organisations develop a strategy to determine how and where their data is secured and stored, optimising their use of public cloud and hybrid cloud-based services to deliver the strongest capabilities while staying within budget.
"From an administrative perspective, the use of the cloud and hybrid clouds enables implementation of dynamic policies and faster encryption," Brooks says, while providing “more transparency for access control.” This, he believes, can help firms mitigate their data risks and protect themselves against rising cloud costs.
In the end, successful cloud management is all about developing visibility and building a robust toolset of software and services with which to take control. Organisations need a complete understanding of what’s in use, where, and by whom, and a plan that will help them align their cloud services and assets with their business goals. Using tools, automation and managed services can streamline administration and management, and bring the estate within reach of a single-pane-of-glass. Cloud requires a new approach to management – and, yes, new skills – but with the right tools and long-term strategy in place, it can help reduce IT workloads, rather than add to them.
To find out more about how Dell and VMware can help with your cloud management challenges, sign up here for a demonstration of VRealize Cloud Management; the single cloud management platform that enables consistent deployment and operations of apps, infrastructure and platform services, all the way from the data centre through the cloud to the edge. Through this, you can discover how vRealize can help you accelerate innovation and gain greater efficiency and control.
How does the proliferation of clouds affect data privacy and information governance at your organisation? A new IDG study consulted CxO and senior IT leaders of large enterprises in EMEA to evaluate the impact of cloud environments on their businesses.
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