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Biggest Obstacle to Business Success: Multicloud Management

By Jeffrey Kaplan
Sep 8, 2017 11:51 AM PT
multicloud-services

The rise of Microsoft Azure as a major competitor to Amazon Web Services has become a mixed blessing for IT managers. While many were pleased to see Microsoft finally become a cloud-first company and build Azure into a viable alternative to AWS, they now are faced with a new set of challenges in trying to make the most of multiple cloud providers.

Every indication is that the adoption of cloud services will continue to accelerate as more and more organizations discover the economic value of moving to on-demand solutions.

Cloud Services Boom

Enterprise cloud spending will grow at a 16 percent compound annual growth (CAGR) run rate through 2026, Wikibon has forecast.

AWS dominates the market, with US$4.1 billion in sales in its most recent fiscal quarter, a nearly 42 percent rise from the same period a year earlier.

Organizations increasingly have been seeking to leverage a variety of cloud services to address an assortment of IT and business needs.

The worldwide public cloud services market will grow 18 percent this year from $209.2 billion in 2016 to $246.8 billion at the 2017, according to Gartner.

There will be a rapid increase in private cloud adoption, with nearly 82 percent of enterprises planning to have a hybrid cloud strategy by 2017, according to Infoholic Research.

The hybrid cloud market will grow at a CAGR of 34.3 percent during the 2016-2022 period and equal $241.13 billion by 2022, the firm predicted.

The rise of Microsoft Azure, along with the resurgence of Google's cloud services, has given many organizations an opportunity to spread their public cloud service acquisitions beyond AWS.

At the same time, Oracle has been pushing its cloud capabilities aggressively, and IBM has claimed that its cloud revenue in the most recent quarter reached $3.9 billion, which would put it on pace to generate $15.6 billion over the next 12 months.

Multicloud Strategies

As a result of the proliferation of cloud service alternatives, a growing number of organizations have adopted a multicloud procurement strategy. In fact, 85 percent of enterprise IT professionals said their firms had a multicloud strategy in place, up from 82 percent in 2016, according to RightScale's sixth annual State of the Cloud Survey Report published early this year.

Participating organizations were using an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds to support 32 percent of workloads in public clouds and 43 percent in private clouds, the survey also found. Those organizations were experimenting with another 1.8 public clouds and an additional 2.1 private clouds.

The expanding array of cloud alternatives not only has created a bit of a buyer's market, but also has made it more difficult to manage the increasingly complicated assortment of cloud services. Lack of resources and expertise to manage and secure the hybrid/multicloud environment in a cost-effective fashion were the greatest concerns of the IT professionals who responded to RightScale's survey.

The initial promise of the cloud was that it could provide a quicker and easier way for organizations to obtain computing power and data storage. Also, the pay-as-you-go pricing model made cloud services an attractive alternative to the hefty upfront costs of on-premises systems.

However, the proliferation of public and private cloud services along with the growing desire to match specific services with particular application/business workloads has made it necessary for organizations to adopt various cloud services to meet their escalating needs.

Ironically, many organizations now face the same management challenge they faced in the old world of the corporate data center and in-house IT operation. In the past, they either had to commit to a single IT vendor that offered the management platform necessary to administer their proprietary systems and software, or their IT teams would cobble together their own set of management tools to manage a multivendor IT environment.

Management Challenges

Today, IT teams are confronting the same choices: rely on the cloud services and management platforms from a single service provider; or piece together an assortment of management tools from various vendors to monitor a multicloud environment.

The Cloud Standards Customer Council earlier this summer published a Practical Guide to Cloud Management Platforms, which provides criteria for selecting and implementing the right cloud management tools to address the escalating multicloud challenge.

"The challenge of IT operations today is largely in the number of data points needed to gain visibility and the variety of systems used to collect the data," the document states.

To respond to this challenge, organizations should adopt a cloud management platform that provides "a simplified management view through its functionality and the aggregation and integration of data from the multiple cloud environments," the CSCC guide recommends.

The reality is that there isn't a single vendor solution that fully addresses this multicloud management platform requirement. The key challenge for IT organizations in the coming months will be to fill this void by compiling the right piece-parts to build a cost-effective multicloud management platform to meet their specific business objectives.


Jeff Kaplan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2009. His focus is on cloud computing, SaaS, IT management, managed services and the Internet of Things. He is managing director of THINKstrategies. Email Jeff.


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