Multi-Cloud Is a Reality, Not a Strategy – Part 1

James Kelly is the Lead Cloud and SDN Expert at Juniper Networks.

So you’re doing cloud, and there is no sign of slowing down. Maybe your IT strategies are measured, maybe you’re following the wisdom of the crowd, maybe you’re under the gun, you’re impetuous or you’re oblivious. Maybe all of the above apply. In any case, like all businesses, you’ve realized that cloud is the vehicle for your newly dubbed software-defined enterprise: a definition carrying onerous, what I call, ‘daft pressures’ for harder, better, faster, stronger IT.

You may as well be solving the climate-change crisis because to have a fighting chance today, it feels like you have to do everything all at once.

Enduring such exploding forces and pressures, many enterprises simultaneously devour cloud, left, right and center; the name for said zeitgeist: multi-cloud. If you’ve not kept abreast, overwhelming evidence – like years of the State of the Cloud Report and other analyst research – show that multi-cloud is the present direction for most enterprises. But the name ‘multi-cloud’ would suggest that using multiple clouds is all there is to it. Thus, in the time it takes to read this article, any technocrat can have their own multi-cloud. It sounds too easy, and as they say, “when life looks like Easy Street, danger is at the door.”

Apparition du Jour

While some cloud pundits forecasting the future of IT infrastructure will shift from hybrid cloud to multi-cloud or go round and round in sanctimonious circles, those who are perceptive have realized that multi-cloud pretense is merely a catch-all moniker, rather than an IT pattern to model. As with many terms washed over too much, “multi-cloud” has quickly washed out. It’s delusional as a strategy, and isn’t particularly useful, other than as le mot du jour to attract attention. How’s that for hypocrisy?

Just like you wouldn’t last on only one food, it’s obvious that you choose multiple options at the cloud buffet. How you choose and how you consume is what will make the difference to if you perish, survive or thrive. Choosing and consuming wisely and with discipline is a strategy.

Is the Strategy Hybrid Cloud?

Whether you want to renew your vows to hybrid cloud or divorce that term, somewhere along the way, it got confused with bimodal, hybrid IT and ops. Nonetheless, removing the public-plus-private qualification, there was real value in the model to unite multiple clouds for one purpose. It’s precisely that aspect that would also add civility to the barbarism of blatantly pursuing multi-cloud. However, precipitating hybrid clouds for a single application with, say, the firecracker whiz-bang of the lofty cloud bursting use case, is really a distraction. The greater goal of using hybrid or multiple clouds should be as a unified, elastic IT infrastructure platform, exploiting the best of many environments.

Opportunities for Ops

Whether public or private, true clouds (which are far from every data center—even those well virtualized) ubiquitously offer elastic, API-controllable and observable infrastructure atop which devops can flourish to enable the speeds and feeds of your business. An obvious opportunity and challenge for IT operations professionals is in building true cloud infrastructure, but if that’s not in the cards for your enterprise, there is still even greater opportunity in managing and executing the strategy for the wisdom and discipline in choosing and consuming cloud.

In the new generation of IT, ops discipline doesn’t mean being the ‘no’ person, it means shaping the path for developers, with developers. This is where devops teaches us that new fun exists to engineer, integrate and operate things. It’s just that they are stacks, pipelines and services, not servers. Of course, to ride this elevator up, traditional infrastructure and operations pros need to elevate their skills, practicing devops kung-fu across the multi-cloud and possibly applying it in building private clouds too.

Imagine what would happen if we exalted our trite multi-cloud environment with strategies and tactics to master it? We can indeed extract the most value from each cloud of choice, avoid cloud lock-in, and ensure evolution, but you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are also shortcuts with new technical debt spirals lurking ahead.

To secure the multi-cloud as a platform serving us, and not the other way around, some care, commitment, time and work is needed toward forming the right skills and habits as well as using or building tools, services and middleware. There is indeed a maturing shared map leading to portability, efficiency, situational awareness and orchestration. In my next article, we’ll examine some of the journey and important strategies to use the multi-cloud for speed with sustainability. Stay tuned.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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