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Mastering Multicloud: Information and Awareness is Key
by Alan Earls Alan Earls on

Multicloud – the practice of formally relying on more than one cloud provider – got a big boost recently when the Pentagon chose to cancel a proposed cloud contract with a single vendor in favor of hiring multiple vendors. While some analysts have warned about the potential complexity of multicloud (and some enterprises have had to set aside a preference for dealing with just one vendor in hopes of getting better pricing), a variety of factors have made multicloud increasingly the norm.

For starters, cloud often came into organizations through the back door – a department or business function deciding unilaterally to put a function in the cloud without asking permission from IT first. So, even without consciously deciding to be multicloud, many enterprises have discovered that they are multicloud. Then there’s the fact that some clouds are simply better at handling some types of work. So, even those who hoped to have just one cloud provider now find they really need to have two or more.

Some also opted for multicloud to avoid the perils of vendor lock-in.

While it does offer many advantages, multicloud is obviously more complex than depending on a single cloud vendor and that can present problems, particularly in terms of ensuring that proper security practices are enforced. Getting good service continually is the key to making it work.

Multicloud Security

For example, although cloud providers usually have solid security capabilities, great security still depends a lot on being a proactive customer. This is the shared responsibility model. For example, infamously, many default settings on any given cloud do not contribute to strong security but, rather, to ease of implementation. If you don’t go in and fix these settings you can be very vulnerable. This is a large configuration management challenge.

Organizations need to determine the best settings on their own and then ensure that these protocols aren’t coming at the unnecessary expense of end-user experience. This makes it critically important for IT to leverage visibility from the end-user perspective of cloud apps and resources to understand the true impact of new settings.

Multicloud Metrics

In addition to security, while each cloud usually has its own set of tools and dashboards, they are sometimes cumbersome and may not always track or measure the metrics that are most important to you. So, you end up with multiple tools and multiple measurements, and can be left wondering whether you are actually comparing apples to apples, or apples to oranges. Unified, third-party insights can help to coordinate and validate information about charges and provide a point of comparison regarding which cloud best serves your particular purpose.

One of the advantages of leveraging the cloud is that much of the complexity of traditional IT operations is effectively gone. Software updates, system performance tuning, and a host of other chores that have kept traditional IT managers busy are largely handled instead by the cloud provider itself. But that doesn’t mean those changes don’t exist and might not have an impact on your operations. So, again, it is helpful to have an overarching monitoring capability to help spot changes and potential performance impacts.

Multicloud Performance

Finally, as a matter of strategy and risk management, there is no substitute for having your own reliable source of insight into performance across all of your cloud commitments. Cloud providers are great at hyping their reliability but all of them have downtime and latency challenges. End-user experience visibility, in particular, can help you understand not only potential performance problems but how those problems change behavior. Are shopping carts being abandoned because of user frustration with response time? Or is a function simply ‘not there’ because the cloud is down? Being able to see when and how performance issues are influencing users, can be the difference between success and failure. Having strong, outside-in visibility (i.e. from the end-user perspective) into cloud environments is also vital for negotiating with providers as well as for helping to make decisions about where to place workloads.

In short, multicloud begs for dashboards that deliver a complete picture of end-user experience and network performance, from on-premises apps to public cloud apps..

Web-based business functions demand the kind of monitoring that can provide accurate insights into the most meaningful performance – when it affects your users. And in increasingly complex cloud environments it is not enough to monitor just one application or a single metric, it is vital to get the full picture.

With good data, you can build a baseline, connect performance to user activities and business results, and begin to truly manage your cloud environment.

Network monitoring, cloud monitoring, and SaaS or application monitoring can all contribute to high fidelity management of a multicloud environment. Dashboard-delivered data can raise team productivity and ensure that multicloud performs as well as or better than a traditional “simple” IT operation or a single-cloud model.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: IT, footprint, infrastructure, architecture, enterprise network, work from home, work from anywhere, remote office, remote work, hybrid work, hybrid office, hybrid cloud, multicloud, cloud computing , cloud

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