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IT infrastructure made to meet modern business needs

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Ali Yenidogan, Cloud Solutions Architect

IT modernisation is a key focus for many organisations. Legacy infrastructure and deep-seated operating models become inflexible and are failing to provide the level of efficiency and automation required to get ahead in the digital economy.

At the foundational layer of modernisation lies the transition towards cloud. Use of cloud-based services has grown in such a gradual and disjointed way that it’s become the default for many organisations, yet there’s still a process of demystification and alignment required to capture their full value.

When we speak with organisations in the early phases of developing a cloud strategy, we usually start by asking ‘why do you want to move to the public cloud?’ Often, we find that they haven’t yet formed a compelling answer. They may say ‘it’s cheaper’ or ‘it’s faster’, but these remain untested assumptions, not guarantees. Discovering their ‘why’ requires an exploration of what vision they have for their organisation and what specific challenges the public cloud can help them to resolve.

What’s important to understand is that there’s no single blueprint architecture or solution that works for everyone. It needs a practical approach that’s customised to the nature of your organisation. The true value of cloud, as many organisations are finding, lies not in a single benefit, such as cost or performance, but in providing the foundation for an entirely new and flexible consumption model for IT, which enables faster time to market. It’s this level of flexibility that makes cloud an attractive prospect.

Multicloud flexibility

For an understanding of what multicloud is, we recommend you read our previous article on the topic. In this article, we want to explain why multicloud is important in the context of enabling a phase of modernisation across your organisation.

The greatest struggle many organisations face in adopting a multicloud strategy or implementation is that it involves tasks that are unfamiliar, even to experienced technical teams. Regardless of the size and nature of the business, IT platforms have typically become more complex. They run hundreds of applications, dozens of databases and millions of lines of code. Transitioning from on-premises to cloud requires a new and often unfamiliar approach to managing these applications. Getting everyone onboard with the transition is no easy task.

Organisations that have a multicloud infrastructure in place own the initiative of when to use the cloud, how to use the cloud, which cloud to use and also when not to use the cloud, and therefore will have a highly flexible consumption model of IT. This is what different stakeholders need to understand – rather than building an application that you use intermittently, you can consume it only when you need it. As such, there’s no need to have a highly complex and expensive solution within your own data centre, which you constantly need to maintain and update, as you can simply access the services in the cloud. Let the cloud providers focus on creating these solutions and services for your business while you focus on what services your business needs.

Considerations for IT decision makers

Developing a practical model for accessing multiple cloud services requires a range of strategic considerations. Fundamental to the process is matching available services to specific business needs. This is where the multicloud proposition becomes so valuable; by embracing multicloud capabilities, the organisation can access the services offered by multiple cloud providers and select the best of breed, without being hindered by frictions relating to vendor lock in or migration costs.

In seeking to formalise your organisation’s use of multicloud, these considerations can help direct your approach:

Establishing a vision

At a fundamental level, your organisation needs to have a clear vision for what it’s trying to achieve. Cloud is fast becoming the way things are done and users want to be able to consume cloud services for business the way they consume Netflix, Spotify and other similar services in their private lives – with maximum choice and flexibility.

Defining the vision requires your organisation to understand its level of cloud maturity, which can only come from open dialogue between departments. This vision should help identify what functions in your business you need to keep on-premises (e.g. for regulatory, latency or geographical reasons), and which are better served being consumed as a service in the cloud.

Developing a cloud adoption framework

Governance of a multicloud strategy should be done through the creation of a cloud team. This is ideally a cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing all aspects of the transition, including cloud strategy, resource management, governance, security and best practice.

For medium-sized organisations, forming this team doesn’t have to require a lot of resource. Working with a managed service provider allows for this cloud team to be formed and aligned with just a couple of key stakeholders within the organisation. Its purpose is to encourage cross-organisational knowledge-sharing in order to leverage and transform the business using cloud.

This cloud team understands what your business is doing and what different departments need. It provides a starting point for building the competencies required for multicloud, taking an inventory of your IT platform to understand what skills and expertise are required internally to manage cloud services.

Maximising range of available services

A fundamental part of multicloud is not only to meet your organisation’s requirements, but also to benefit from cloud competition. Hyperscale cloud providers are innovating to offer the latest services and functions in order to compete for customers. This brings an enhanced range of functionalities and drives down costs.

Organisations that embrace multicloud can benefit from this choice by switching between providers in order to adopt the services they require. To maximise the benefits, you need to know which services and capabilities are valuable to your organisation.

Cloud providers focus on the latest technology and the features of their services; your business focus is to understand if the cloud provider meets your requirements. You should consider carefully whether the cloud provider has the features you need. Cost can be a very important consideration as the cost for similar services can vary betweeen the cloud platforms and the cloud calculators are very complex. You need to understand the type of CPU activity, CPU consumption, encryption, network bandwidth, storage I/O and egress traffic in order to make an informed calculation.

This is an area in which a managed services partner can offer support. Proact has been providing data centre infrastructure solutions and services as well as managed cloud services to enterprise for more than a decade. We bring together a partner network of cloud service providers to help our customers adopt the cloud solutions suited to their purposes.

We also work closely with NetApp to tie together consultancy offerings. NetApp’s Data Fabric services align closely with the goal of using different providers but keeping data in a multi/hybrid location. This means organisations can make their data available to different providers and their ecosystem of services easily accessible, and drive down costs through efficiency.

Setting expectations

A good strategy needs to adapt to reality. Therefore, your multicloud approach needs to be continuously validated, with further migration and optimisation steps built into its roadmap. Showing its practical value will help with getting greater buy-in from senior leaders and collaboration among departments.

As multicloud becomes the industry norm, the consequences of falling behind will become more apparent. An enterprise that doesn’t rearchitect its IT platform to optimise for multicloud will miss out on the true value it delivers; tremendous flexibility and scalability, cost efficiencies and a ever-growing list of service options. They will fail to maximise growth as their strategy will struggle to evolve in line with both internal and external demands.

Ready for rapid change

Embracing multicloud creates a far greater level of choice and opportunities for experimentation. Orchestrating this requires decision makers who understand both their business’ and their customers’ painpoints and are able to establish which needs match which solutions.

A defined multicloud stategy can help your organisation speed up the creation of applications in order to enable faster time to market. Capturing the value of this transformation needs a fundamental understanding of cloud across your organisaiton. If leaders and decision makers don’t understand cloud then they won’t be able to see what they’re missing, which can result in a host of missed opportunities to create better outcomes for your customers. Having a cloud partner on board can help you to shape your strategy and avoid the hurdles that organisations commonly experience in the earlier stages.

The process of modernisation means that your IT infrastructure can thrive in uncertainty. Cloud services evolve very rapidly, and new solutions and services come and go. So if either you or your cloud provider decide to terminate a service, you need to have the ability to adapt. With an infrastructure that has multicloud flexibility at its foundation, you can be confident that your organisation can skillfully respond to change.

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