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Hybrid-multi-cloud architectures will replace ‘one-cloud-fits-all’ approach: IBM

Prashant Sharma, Country Manager, Hybrid Cloud Integration, IBM India/South Asia, elaborates on why multi-cloud strategy is gaining relevance among enterprises. While highlighting the strategic benefits, he underlined that multi-cloud does come with certain challenges

What are the changes you have seen in Indian CXO’s buying behavior for the cloud?

Prashant Sharma, Country Manager, Hybrid Cloud Integration, IBM India/South Asia

We have seen public/hybrid cloud becoming a reality in the last 12 months. With the cloud adoption on the rise, organizations will still invest in traditional IT, thus creating incremental market opportunity in the space of hybrid cloud.

  • Enterprise private cloud offers the biggest opportunity with $6.45 billion in 2019, growing to $ 11.58 billion in 2022.
  • Most enterprises prefer to keep certain data in-house as data privacy frameworks are being drafted and shift the rest to the cloud. Open API becomes essential to cloud platforms.

Do you think multi-cloud is a trend that is here to stay or a fad that only the most cutting edge will embrace?

Hybrid-multi-cloud architectures will replace the ‘one-cloud-fits-all’ approach. Businesses are seeking to drive value from the integration of public and private clouds by taking the hybrid multi-cloud approach. The approach uses a combination of on-premises, private cloud, and public cloud architecture, with the best-in-class resources from different cloud vendors. A hybrid approach enables teams to run applications across private, dedicated and multi-tenant public cloud infrastructures, while a multi-cloud approach embraces multiple vendors to support a breadth of enterprise workloads.

A report by IBM highlights that by 2021, 98 percent of organizations plan to adopt multi-cloud architectures, but only 41 percent have a multi-cloud management strategy and just 38 percent have procedures and tools to operate a multi-cloud environment. So we will see IT organizations undergo a cultural shift in the way that they work and require teams equipped with new skill-sets. The approach will create job titles such as cloud service broker, cloud architect and cloud automation engineer and it will be increasingly commonplace to manage the changing environments.

What are the strategic benefits with multi-cloud? Please highlight operational and cost benefits.

The choice of the multi-cloud is based on the fact that we need to use the best of breed application and consumption model (IAAS, PAAS, SAAS) based on business requirements. The key benefits derived from the same are application and data portability, leveraging best-of-breed services, avoiding vendor lock-in, realizing cost efficiencies, data sovereignty, security and privacy regulations, balancing flexibility and regulations, and multi-year 100 percent uptime.

What are the challenges with the multi-cloud strategy?

Multi-cloud adoptions come with their own set of challenges. Enterprises that are early adopters need to carefully evaluate their strategy, taking into account the complexity, costs, and pitfalls that these challenges might ultimately entail. Enterprises should evaluate their decision by keeping the following elements in mind.

Vendor maturity disparity within multi-cloud supportability is currently very high. While some vendors are early adopters and trailblazers, others are still very early, and then there is a full spectrum of variance between the two ends. For enterprises working with multiple vendors (which is the case with most large enterprises), this variance makes their own adoption journey very complex and inefficient.

Leveraging multiple clouds adds complexity in many areas. Here are a few to consider if you’re embarking on a multi-cloud venture:

  • Disparate tools, consoles, and technologies: Each target environment brings different tools and technologies that must be mastered and managed by a team. Also, each environment brings with it its own complexity, such as different services, pricing structure, workload configurations, management consoles, support structures, and SLAs.
  • Expertise requirements: It takes a while to become an expert in one cloud environment. Having to learn a second environment puts pressure on teams supporting multiple clouds to get up to speed quickly and toggle between two sets of skills.
  • Management tools: Few management tools are designed to support hybrid or multi-cloud, resulting in enterprises having to adapt and manage multiple management stacks to support their needs.
  • Operational costs: Each technology or environment increases the operational burden for an IT team. Cloud providers also charge based on different usage metrics. Sorting out bills from one vendor is a huge challenge; adding a second set of bills creates a new level of cloud chaos.
  • Governance requirements: Governance ensures proper due care is applied to the operation and management of business applications. In addition to governance, many organizations also have to manage external compliance. These regulations and policies must be uniformly monitored across each new environment.
  • Skill sets: Bringing on a new cloud often means hiring or training existing staff on the new expertise required. This increases the burden of hiring, training and retaining talent in your organization.

Hence, enterprises should prioritize multi-cloud strategies with strong automation, security and interface consistency.

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