Multi-cloud strategy: Determine the right cloud for your workloads

Businesses typically deploy a multi-cloud strategy to gain more agility, flexibility and choice, but Ed Featherston’s advice for CIOs taking their first foray into the cloud is to pick one provider to work with first. This will provide an understanding of how their IT operations are going to change, what their DevOps is going to look like and how their processes are going to operate in the new environment, explained Featherston, vice president and principal cloud architect at Cloud Technology Partners.

The CIO should then make sure that the company’s overall culture has adapted well to the changes, he added.

“Get one right, first,” he said. “Once you’ve done that, then you can start thinking about if you want to go multi-cloud and start looking at why you want to go to multi-cloud.”

In this Q&A, Featherston explains why organizations operating in a multi-cloud environment are moving away from the “lift and shift” approach when deciding on the right cloud for their workloads. He also highlights the skillsets needed to operate in a multi-cloud environment.

When implementing a multi-cloud strategy, how do organizations decide which workload to place where?

Ed Featherston: My classic consulting answer is, it depends on the workload, what the expectation is, what they want to do with it, what their technology stack is. Most places are starting to move away from just the classic lift and shift into an environment, and they’re looking at modifying their workloads to use cloud-native capabilities. That’s when we start getting into, ‘what are the features that are offered in each of these environments that I could take advantage of, and what features would help me deliver more capabilities and more flexibility in this particular workload?’

The other thing is, what is the skillsets of the people that they have? Are they going to keep supporting all of this themselves or are they going to start looking at outsourcing it to a managed service provider?

One of the challenges in the multi-cloud environment is each of those environments are very different and you need people that have the skills to run those environments. You are going to need a team that has skillsets to be able to work in all of those environments, and that can become problematic.

What are some of the skills that are needed?

Featherston: The skills revolve around managing, configuring and maintaining the different cloud service provider’s environments. So, for AWS it is being able to handle and manage all of the AWS configurations, deployment and features that are being brought in. Same thing for Azure and Google Cloud.

It’s setting up the network infrastructure, setting up the firewall, setting up the virtual cloud environments. Each one of the vendors does that in a different way; there’s no one-size-fits-all that will work across all of the environments.

My highest recommendation for anybody going into the cloud is automating their environment as much as possible, but the script automations are different in each one of those environments. I can automate building my workload in AWS, but I can’t take that same script and run it in Azure to build my workload environment there.

If you’re going to be in more than one of those environments, your people have to have the skillsets to move between those environments and manage them all to make sure that everything is staying in sync and working the way we need it to be working.

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