Wendy is the CIO of Nutanix, where she leads the global Information Technology team and functions.
The quantity of complex workloads and business applications continues to increase, and IT teams are turning to multicloud environments that help manage and support rapid growth in the enterprise. Reliance on these solutions is expected to grow, but the complexity and lack of interoperability of legacy infrastructure with public cloud environments continue to create challenges that hinder successful cloud adoption.
The results of studies like my company’s Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) and an IBM-commissioned study by McKinsey indicate that many businesses today encounter difficulties when utilizing multiple clouds, which can be private as well as public. Although no one-size-fits-all deployment exists, leveraging multiple clouds can be one effective way to increase productivity and manage complex applications and workloads while supporting a hybrid workforce. If your team is in the process of deploying a multicloud infrastructure, here are seven tips to help streamline adoption and overcome common challenges around interoperability, security and data integration.
1. Evaluate your existing infrastructure. Although cloud infrastructure can streamline productivity, not all workloads belong in the public cloud. Legacy applications often have specific requirements that make them dependent on on-premise and private cloud environments. If your company currently supports legacy workloads, consider investing in on-premises technologies that deliver the benefits of a cloud operating model while keeping your IT team fully in control of the underlying infrastructure.
Businesses should invest in evaluating the cloud needs of individual workloads to effectively pair them with the right environment while factoring in security, compliance regulations, performance and cost. For example, the ECI results indicate that public cloud infrastructure would work best for customer resource management, remote workstation management and collaboration applications, whereas the preferred infrastructure for database, HR and disaster recovery applications continues to be the private cloud.
2. Prioritize expanding IT ecosystems. One of the biggest hurdles to cloud adoption for businesses is the lack of interoperability. Enterprise IT may accumulate individual solutions that don’t work well with other products, use incompatible formats or are discontinued by their vendors. To simplify cloud infrastructure, choose solutions that are natively built to work together.
Investing in technologies that are extensible and supported by a large ecosystem of vendors can also help prepare your business for adopting new tools and processes in the future. Where possible, deploy cloud management tooling that supports multicloud architectures to ensure that IT teams stay agile and flexible even as the needs of your organization change.
3. Match workload security needs to the appropriate IT environment. Both the ECI and McKinsey findings show that enterprises are now forming strategies to match workloads to the most appropriate infrastructure, with security as the leading factor in decisions. Many businesses are finding that legacy security solutions, VPNs and firewalls are no longer an effective way of combating modern cybersecurity threats. Work with your security teams to evaluate cloud-based security solutions that prioritize identity control, lower attack surfaces and specialize in protecting cloud data, applications and services.
4. Unify your data for ease of access. Another issue deprioritized in legacy data access is the siloed nature of disparate data centers and data lake environments. IT leaders often focus on securing and managing stored data, regardless of where it’s stored, ignoring issues in data visibility and portability.
Prioritize accessibility to all data repositories used by deploying consistent cloud governance and protection policies that provide a unified data visibility approach to ensure secure role-based access is available to approved users. Unifying your data in multicloud environments also makes data portable to ensure that remote teams are able to maintain efficiency and collaboration regardless of their location while maintaining enterprise-grade levels of security.
5. Update your business continuity plan. Adopting cloud infrastructure creates a new set of factors and considerations that must be integrated into your disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Where possible, leverage a cloud platform with integrated disaster recovery capabilities to ensure business continuity with data integrity that allows failback to the primary environment. It’s also important to leverage multicloud infrastructure deployments that minimize system downtime and include failover systems that offer protection against long-term disruptions to the supply chain.
6. Automate manual workloads using orchestration and operations. Leverage AI-powered orchestration and automation to eliminate the time-consuming process of manually assigning resources or operating parts of the cloud. If manually managing workloads is slowing progress on critical, high-value projects, consider investing in hybrid operations solutions that automate and orchestrate infrastructure and IT processes.
When scaling multicloud environments, automation and orchestration together help streamline cloud management, improve backup and resilience processes and enhance data cost and governance capabilities. Automation works best in cloud environments where management and operations are uniform, so make sure your infrastructure uses policies and parameters built for deploying these processes across cloud architectures.
7. Implement uniform policies and governance. At the heart of cloud infrastructure is the idea that data should be available anytime, anywhere. However, the reality of multicloud environments is that each requires different policies, governance and tools, creating vulnerabilities in data permissions and access.
When deploying cloud infrastructure, ensure that employees understand the value of standardized policies and tools when securing multicloud environments and how to access best practices. Uniform policies help provide new levels of visibility into workloads and increase overall collaboration as the business scales. To ensure that cloud best practices are effectively shared, consider establishing centers of excellence.
Enterprises Are Looking To Hybrid Strategies
Enterprises are growing more strategic in their use of IT infrastructure. Multicloud IT infrastructure use is evolving and now spans a combination of private and public clouds. This hybrid model can help deliver the flexibility and agility that most organizations seek to compete in today’s digital world while enabling enterprises to simplify operations.
These changes are driven by the market-wide realization that there’s no one-size-fits-all cloud solution. The reality requires optimizing IT infrastructure, allowing greater management capabilities across the application stack. Keeping these tips in mind can help ensure you’re getting the most out of your cloud investment and overcome the most common multicloud infrastructure challenges.
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