Lessons from the CIO Watercooler: Making the Move to Multi-Cloud

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Featured images for UK blog series September

In recent years we’ve seen increasing adoption of multi-cloud infrastructure. In a recent survey of public cloud users conducted by Gartner, 81% of respondents said they are working with two or more providers.

Developments in technology have helped to highlight the key advantages of a multi-cloud strategy, and for those with over 1000 employees, or global organisations with multiple locations, multi-cloud has proven a popular infrastructure choice.

Improvements and market maturity has meant that the core advantages of investing in a multi-cloud infrastructure have come to the fore for large organisations. While the landscape is a complex one, the cost of multi-cloud is no longer the primary driver. Ultimately decision-makers simply want data control and flexibility at a manageable price. According to Hiren Parekh, VP for Northern Europe at OVHcloud:

“The end goal is having a hybrid cloud approach which is a fully integrated and reversible technology solution to protect your cloud investment.”

This was the topic on the agenda at CIO Watercooler’s Digital Boardroom last month, where we heard from key IT figures in a variety of industries. In this article, we’ve expanded on a few of the key takeaways for organisations planning and navigating a multi-cloud strategy:

Multi-cloud uptake

In 2018 Forrester conducted a survey (commissioned by Virtustream) of cloud strategy and application management decision-makers. Of the 727 respondents surveyed, 86% defined their cloud strategy as ‘multi-cloud’. Now, according to the Flexera State of the Cloud Report 2020, in organisations with 1000+ employees, 93% of IT decision-makers have adopted a multi-cloud strategy, 87% of which leverage hybrid and 6% multiple public. 6% prefer single public, while just 1% use single private.

The key challenges

The cloud infrastructure landscape is still somewhat complex, but ultimately, businesses want flexibility and data control and security. Decision-makers have cited data protection, sovereignty, speed of innovation through integration, smooth cloud migration and control of costs, reversibility, and ability to avoid lock-in as their key challenges and considerations when looking to adopt a cloud strategy. Where decision-makers may have opted for a ‘trial and error’ approach to their infrastructure, design, strategy and culture are the more effective solutions to adopting a long-term multi-cloud plan.

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Mapping out your IT Environment

Assessing your current infrastructure is key in scoping out your future environment. Whether you’re currently working with a traditional, legacy or modern infrastructure will determine the direction you need to take when it comes to choosing your ‘best of breed’ providers moving into a multi-cloud environment. It’s also important to assess your overall business goals. Is your organisation seeking to improve business agility, IT innovation, get a better grasp on data or drive profit margins by lowering costs? Defining what’s driving your strategy and aligning your long-term business goals with your multi-cloud strategy should be the key starting point for infrastructure decision-makers. Once you’ve laid the foundations, map out the potential deployment of your multi-cloud environment, considering public and private clouds and how a hybrid might work for your business.

Partner alignment

Don’t forget, your business is unique in terms of your cloud infrastructure needs. Even if you have a similar structure to a competitor, chances are you’ll have a set of differences in terms of what you need to be able to do, and how you store data. For example, if your business is an M&A freight train, your providers must have the wherewithal to provide the utmost flexibility and rapidly manage change. Most data tools on the market boast a high standard of predictability, so get to know your potential partners and ensure that their expertise is in line with your unique business needs before making any commitment.

That wraps up our lessons from September’s Digital Boardroom session. Get in touch with CIO Watercooler to catch the live, forthcoming sessions in the series.

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Originally published Oct 15, 2020, updated Jan 17, 2023

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