How to Manage the Complexity of Multi-Cloud Environments

How to Manage the Complexity of Multi-Cloud Environments

As enterprises have moved their workloads (applications and data) to the cloud, hybrid and distributed cloud environments have become the norm for most companies. Eighty-five percent of respondents to a new Harvard Business Review–Analytic Services survey say their organizations use at least two clouds—and a quarter of those respondents are using five or more.

Many enterprises moved to the cloud to accelerate innovation, agility, and growth, and to realize cost savings with the cloud’s on-demand consumption model. But some find themselves grappling with the growing complexity of multi-cloud operations and cloud costs that are spiraling out of control.

A big focus for enterprises now is managing the increasing complexity and run costs of these hybrid, distributed cloud environments. They want to reduce the complexity of cloud operations (CloudOps) to accelerate innovation in order to keep pace with growing customer expectations.

But not all organizations are managing multiple clouds effectively or economically enough to achieve these goals.

Some organizations use cloud services inconsistently across siloed business units, running the risk of spending too much on unneeded services, missing opportunities to optimize performance, and seeing gaps in managing and securing internal and customer data. While 77% of the survey respondents say their organizations need to improve cloud management, only 27% have created a cloud center for excellence to coordinate and share best practices.

A Way Forward

Organizations now looking for ways to manage multiple clouds are finding that engineering-led operations deliver advantages that refine their cloud-workload management strategies.

Managing multi-cloud complexity requires new approaches to information technology operations that enhance automation and simplification. It requires implementing development, security, and operations and site reliability engineering practices into how you design, build, deploy, and operate your applications and workloads for the cloud. It requires having the right skills and policies in place—and implementing a cultural shift in how you develop and modernize applications for the cloud.

Without a consistent means to determine where, when, and how to run their cloud workloads, organizations may find it challenging to capture all the benefits they anticipate from their cloud investments. But by putting CloudOps and cloud financial operations (FinOps) at the center of business strategy, an organization may more fully realize the potential of its cloud through increased agility and efficiency, lower costs, and advanced data protection.

Implementing modern autonomous CloudOps and FinOps strategies into application design, build, and run processes can help all functions share and collaborate on insights, boost agility and efficiency, coordinate spending, and secure company and customer data.

CloudOps for Coordinated Cloud Management

When managing multiple public and internal cloud environments, decision making needs to balance technology with business strategy—whether the goal is to support data storage and analytics, employee communications and productivity, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) automation, customer relationship management , or any other outcome.

Organizations participating in the survey that have yet to fully adopt CloudOps say they are working to overcome such cloud-management challenges as hiring for the skills they need, enforcing standards and as they upgrade, optimizing cloud usage, improving security, and governing data consistently . Asked to choose from a list of challenges they face in managing their clouds, 51% reported having difficulty keeping up with the technology skills/talent required, the most-cited answer.

While various functions and practices may have competing interests, a critical step in managing multiple clouds is coordinating and focusing on prioritizing the organization’s overarching goals, such as operational efficiency, cutting expenses, accelerating digital transformation, increasing productivity, and boosting security.

When organizations can coordinate their cloud management and free up their IT resources and talent from dealing with the daily challenges of managing cloud complexity, they can accelerate digital transformation through an increased focus on automation, AI, data analytics, and new insights.

FinOps for Cloud Cost Management

For many organizations, the cornerstone of innovation is cloud computing for driving business agility and high-velocity decision making to keep pace with changing customer demands and market trends. But without the appropriate checks and balances, cloud investments can easily become a runaway train.

To address these challenges, more than half the respondents HBR–AS surveyed say their organizations have coordinated their approaches to FinOps to streamline their spending and usage.

Establishing a FinOps practice within an organization encourages a cross-functional collaboration of technology, operations, and finance teams for increasing financial accountability on cloud investments. This collaboration aims to improve processes, reduce business risks, and deliver offerings faster while reducing costs and boosting business performance.

Establishing a FinOps practice requires building a cross-functional team of finance leaders, engineers, and dedicated FinOps practitioners as a cloud center of excellence—with critical tasks including calculating costs, allocating cloud resources, and negotiating vendor pricing.

For some organizations, establishing a FinOps practice may require a culture change, shifting technology leadership’s traditional responsibility to make all purchasing decisions and instead sharing investment decisions to ensure coordination on business strategy. It also requires developers to consider more cost-related matters, such as the impact a product enhancement or modification might have on cloud investment.

As cloud consumption models become more complex and data-rich, the opportunities for FinOps to enhance the quality of cloud consumption and overall business performance will only multiply. Once it establishes a FinOps center of excellence, an organization can make more balanced cloud investments and strengthen the business by strategically reallocating cloud spend in a fast-paced digital world.

Learn how Hitachi Vantara can help your organization Apply CloudOps and FinOps to refine your strategy and grow.

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