By Stevie Walsh, Head of Cloud Practice, Rackspace Asia
Organizations today are faced with a pressing challenge. How can business leaders keep up with the rapidly changing customer and market demands while having limited IT budget and resources? Thankfully, the ever-evolving business environment also presents opportunities for companies to drive new growth.
Many organizations have already recognized the value of cloud solutions, and have already incorporated a journey to the cloud as part of their digital transformation initiatives. Yet industry developments have meant that there is also value in exploring a multi-cloud strategy. By taking this approach, businesses will be able to improve their operational processes and quickly develop solutions that address changing customer demands. Instead of being constrained by a single platform to develop and deploy apps, multi-cloud offers the flexibility for users to select the technology services and platforms that best suit their business goals to ensure optimal performance.
Having a multi-cloud environment prevents companies from being locked into one cloud provider too. This not only minimizes the likelihood of being faced with unexpected price hikes but also reduces the risk of service downtime and widespread data loss due to a localized failure.
Besides that, the multi-cloud approach provides added geographical flexibility. Since major cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud have data centers around the world, organizations that engage with those vendors can be assured that they comply with increasingly sophisticated data sovereignty regulations as they expand their businesses internationally.
Factors that can derail multi-cloud projects
Although multi-cloud can bring considerable benefits to organizations, the move to such an environment can introduce technical complexities. Here are three challenges that might arise from adopting multi-cloud.
1. Wasting IT resources
In order to adapt to market changes quickly, business units may at times bypass IT protocols and self-provision cloud services. The downside of this is that it prevents the IT team from getting full visibility and control over its cloud resources, resulting in cloud sprawl, wherein cloud instances or workloads are left running even when the business no longer needs it. Cloud sprawl will not only drive up operational costs but also create security blind spots that can put organizations at risk.
2. Disparate cloud services
Since multi-cloud refers to the use of cloud platforms and services from various providers, there is a possibility that some of those cloud solutions may not integrate well with each other. The lack of integration could prevent workloads from moving to the most appropriate cloud, hindering organizations from becoming efficient and agile to keep up with changing market demands. Moreover, managing disparate cloud services is challenging as IT teams will need to manage them independently.
3. Lack of skills to support the digital business
Managing the complexities brought about by cloud sprawl and disparate cloud services require new skillsets from IT professionals. However, businesses are struggling to acquire the right expertise to take advantage of cloud technologies as the demand for them is outpacing supply. According to a study by the London School of Economics and Political Science, only 2 percent of IT decision makers in Singapore are confident that they have the right cloud expertise to make their cloud journey successful. More than 9 in 10 Singapore respondents also cited that it was difficult to hire skilled cloud professionals due to stiff industry competition for such talents.
In order to overcome the complexities of multi-cloud and realize its full potential, businesses in Asia Pacific are increasingly turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to deploy and manage their multi-cloud environments. According to IDC, the region will spend US$6.6 billion on managed cloud services in 2021, up from US$3.4 billion in 2018.
Relieving the operational and integration burden from IT
By utilizing the expertise and resources of MSPs, organizations will be able to focus on innovation and revenue-generating tasks. By simplifying multi-cloud management through a single console that provides visibility and control over multiple clouds, organizations can be assured that their cloud usage is properly managed and tightly governed according to their business strategy. This enables businesses to realize the cost savings that the cloud promises.
Organizations can also ensure that their multi-cloud infrastructures are compliant and secure by leveraging MSPs. To achieve this, they will need to select an MSP that meets the regulations that apply to their industry and marketplace, as well as offers a multi-layered security strategy that incorporates emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
Besides that, MSPs can aid by providing orchestration technologies that enable workload portability across multi-cloud environments, as well as automation and self-service options to empower employees to quickly transform ideas into prototypes.
Ugam Solutions is one organization that has reaped the benefits of multi-cloud by leveraging an MSP. As a managed analytics provider delivering insights to retailers and market research firms, Ugam needed a solution that is capable of handling complex computations and a massive amount of data and workload peaks, while quickly delivering market intelligence to its customers. By turning to Rackspace to deploy and manage its multi-cloud environment, Ugam is now able to balance seasonal workload spikes, process 20 percent more workload than before and reduce costs by 40 percent.
Given today’s rapidly changing business environment, organizations in Asia Pacific can’t afford to let their lack of cloud skills prevent them from utilizing multi-cloud to flexibly and quickly address changing market demands. It is therefore imperative for businesses to partner the right MSP that can offer the resources and expertise needed to tap the power of multiple clouds, to accelerate innovation without the cost and complexity of managing all those technologies on their own.