How businesses can combat complexities to become multicloud masters
by Mahesh Desai, Chief Relationship Officer EMEA, Rackspace Technology
Making the right decisions is rarely straightforward, especially when it comes to aligning business challenges with IT needs. As companies modernize and their operations become increasingly digital, moving to the cloud emerges as an important next step to ensure business objectives can be met. But even then, there are such a large number of cloud options that finding the right solution or combination is an intimidating challenge.
The challenge is magnified as the need to get it right the first time is critical today, more than ever before. Our own research has shown how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to budgetary concerns for almost three quarters of IT leaders in EMEA. Two thirds of these leaders expect their budgets to increase this year (2021), while in an overwhelming majority of cases, digital transformation projects and plans to move away from legacy systems have been accelerated.
As companies evolve rapidly, perhaps more quickly than they expected just a couple of years ago — and especially as they seek to become less reliant on legacy technology — operational challenges inevitably arise. Acting quickly and decisively is important, but so too is the need to avoid the pitfalls commonly associated with trying to run before learning to walk.
This adds up to multiple challenges to decision makers who are still trying to establish an appropriate cloud strategy. Juggling a desire for cloud nativity with ongoing business and security requirements is not always straightforward. Choosing the right cloud provider, or combination of cloud solutions, can leave some overwhelmed by the amount of choice.
However, in many cases, multicloud does emerge as the most effective solution, allowing companies to use public and private cloud systems together, and to tailor solutions to their specific needs.
Facing the challenges
No two organizations will have the same requirements, or face the same challenges, in their cloud journeys. The balance between control and scalability is always a delicate one. For example, gohenry, the app-based payment service for 6-18 year olds, increasingly identified that a move to public cloud would support the company’s ambitions to grow its global user base – a transition Rackspace Technology has overseen. Now gohenry has the right multicloud solution for its needs – a mix of public and existing private cloud, as well as the tools it needs to adapt to any future requirements.
Many organizations evolve to become multicloud users by circumstance, rather than by design, possibly by adopting public cloud early and then adding a private cloud system, or vice versa. As a result, they find they don’t have the right combination of public or private cloud solutions in place.
This can lead to an imbalance wherein different parts of each cloud environment are being used sub-optimally – negating the true benefit of multicloud. Each workload should be operating in its best environment. This realization is a crucial first step for IT leaders who might assume that simply by having a multicloud solution in place, they’ve done all they need to do. It is not a tick-box exercise, and leaders need to plan for continued optimization.
Leaving legacy behind
Conceptually, it is very easy to associate the newer elements of a business with the most current technologies. For instance, a company that has expanded online may have its ecommerce operations hosted on a public cloud, while it maintains legacy applications on servers that are managed in-house. While the younger ecommerce part of the business might even be cloud native, a perception that legacy operations must be treated as a separate entity – and that transitioning that side of the business to the cloud is likely to be difficult – can often hold companies back.
In reality, multicloud is perfect for this kind of increasingly common hybrid business, with the majority of organizations functioning online in some capacity. A private cloud can host the legacy applications, with the public cloud offering scalability and cost benefits. Over time, this balance and interactivity can be adjusted.
This was the case with international apparel retailer J.Crew, which initially upgraded its legacy operations, but quickly realized the greater benefit public cloud would bring to its global operations. As with many organizations, compliance and security were paramount concerns, and while public cloud is supremely secure, housing certain legacy operations in a private cloud was preferable. However, taking a multicloud approach enabled J.Crew to concurrently harness the scalability of public cloud to support the growth of its business around the world.
No two organizations will have identical needs. For some, multicloud may not be the option. But for those that choose it for the right reasons, multicloud will ultimately deliver all of the components needed for a company to tailor a bespoke solution to its own unique needs.
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