Managing multi-cloud mayhem

Paul Nicholson, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at A10 Networks, discusses about various challenges arising out of hybrid cloud adoption and strategies required to address these challenges.

As the race to the cloud accelerates, both the benefits and the challenges of multi-cloud environments are becoming ever clearer. There is no question that multi-cloud deployments now play a foundational role in everything from internal business needs to digital transformation initiatives — but it’s also essential for IT to ensure effective visibility, governance, security, and control across both public and private clouds as multi-cloud deployments mature into standard IT and operational realms. Strategies are desperately needed to address these challenges. Adoption of a Polynimbus Secure Application Services blueprint can mitigate multi-cloud risk and operational challenges, including improving compliance, accuracy, and DevOps and SecOps needs, with reduced stress on IT personnel.

To gain insights into the current state and future direction of multi-cloud deployments, A10 Networks partnered with the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network for a global survey of IT and business executives. The findings offer a revealing look at the fast-evolving state of multi-cloud adoption, management practices, and platforms that will shape IT over the coming years. Some findings are in-line with what you may guess, but others are revealing at the true state of multi-cloud deployments, and a paradox.

The multi-cloud consensus
Multi-cloud has quickly become the standard for modern IT, with 65 percent of survey respondents already using two or more public cloud platforms. And these aren’t just pilot projects or niche use cases; half of the companies in the report have moved at least 30 percent of their enterprise applications to the cloud, and 35 percent have migrated more than half.

This mass migration is understandable. Today’s public cloud platforms and private cloud technologies offer a rich array of options for organizations seeking to supplement or move beyond the constraints of traditional infrastructure. Survey respondents report the desire to leverage this flexibility to address an equally broad range of priorities and use cases, including accelerating digital transformation, improving compute and cost efficiencies, meeting regulatory requirements, and increasing performance, scalability, and reliability.

Taking a multi-cloud approach can multiply the effectiveness of this strategy. By distributing their cloud assets, software, applications, and data across multiple cloud environments and providers, organizations can provide the best fit for each use case and workload—a benefit reported by more than a third of respondents.

Meeting the challenges of multi-cloud environments
Recognizing the potential benefits of multi-cloud environments is the easy part; realizing them is another story. Most organizations surveyed report major challenges in managing cost and complexity, improving visibility and integration, ensuring flexibility, and enforcing best practices across the cloud environments they use.

Many attribute this to the shortcomings of the vendors they’re working with. Only 9 percent of respondents are extremely satisfied with their current security solutions for multi-cloud deployments—while four times as many see a need for significant improvements. What kind of improvements? Top requirements cited include centralized visibility and analytics into security and performance (56 percent), automated tools to speed response times and reduce costs (54 percent), and centralized management (50 percent). These considerations should figure prominently in the development of a Polynimbus operational model for successful multi-cloud strategies.

As valuable customer data and corporate IP move to public cloud environments, security is understandably a key area of focus. The IT and business leaders surveyed cited a need for centralized authentication (62 percent), an essential capability to ensure effective control over which users, admins, and systems can access various assets across the clouds in use. Centralized security policies (46 percent), web application firewalls (40 percent), and robust DDoS protection (33 percent) were also frequently mentioned, as was the need for more scalable, high-performance security solutions. Again, these capabilities should be must-haves for a full security and availability stack, including application delivery controller (ADC) and load balancing functionality, in a consistent, Polynimbus, operational environment.

The multi-cloud paradox – strong results, continued investment and lack of perceived success?
While most organizations have yet to see the full benefits of using multiple clouds, they’re already seeing promise for their multi-cloud strategy. Nearly two-thirds of respondents pointed to the redundancy and disaster recovery advantages of a multi-vendor approach, while roughly half called out cost optimization and performance optimization.

Results like these are giving organizations cause to continue and extend their multi-cloud strategy. A full 85 percent of respondents have advanced their company’s cloud commitment over the past two years, including more than half reporting significant progress, and nearly one-fifth moving aggressively to a cloud-first strategy. And this will only increase. A full 84 percent of the IT and business leaders surveyed plan to increase their use of public and private clouds in the coming two years, with most either expecting to add more clouds, or open to the possibility of doing so.

So, what is the paradox? While spending and multi-cloud adoption increase, only 11 percent of respondents believe they have been highly successful in realizing the benefits of multi-cloud computing. This figure is way too low. While multi-cloud strategies are new, they are not that new. This demonstrates a clear need to drive cloud operational efficiency to mainstream, and the way to this is operationalizing clouds as we did data centers. In fact, this is needed for cloud environments more than ever. The Polynimbus Secure Application Service blueprint outlines the security, availability, standardization and automation benefits for IT operations and the business to ensure we meet digital transformation roadmaps and to have the agility and alignment to business outcomes that help regain control and reduce complexity in a more complex world.