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Multi-Cloud Management Research Finding: It’s All in the Planning

The reasons that companies adopt multi-cloud environments are almost as numerous as the number of computers on a network. But adopting that type of solution usually leads to headaches, according to research from VMware and MIT Technology Review Custom.

Fortunately, any cranial discomfort should be short-lived.

The study looked at the attitude toward cloud adoption of more than 1,300 global IT decision makers in large enterprises. The main take away from the research indicates that planning is key. Preparing workers and having a dedicated roadmap toward a multi-cloud solution is integral to mitigating any growing pains.

"A multi-cloud environment brings many recognized benefits to help organizations meet the high demands of today's digital economy," says Owen Jenkins, VP of planning for Kadence International, a global research firm, commenting on the research produced by MIT Technology Review Custom. "While the research shows that there are technical challenges inherent with multi-cloud adoption, the confidence in its benefits grows significantly, especially in the areas of efficiency and agility, to such an extent that one of the biggest pieces of advice from users is 'just go for it'."

Indeed, a multi-cloud strategy is becoming more popular in virtually all industries. As organizations face challenges from things like vendor lock-in, data sovereignty, innovation, and the need for workload specific services, they are opting to leverage multiple clouds, the research asserts.

Still, opinions on the multi-cloud adoption trend vary from company to company. VMware is upbeat, for instance, because the company increasingly promotes a multi-cloud management software strategy. Part of the effort involves VMware Cloud on AWS, though the virtualization company also touts relationships with other cloud providers.

In stark contrast, AWS leaders downplay the multi-cloud trend -- insisting that the typical customer puts most of their eggs into a single cloud basket -- even if that means putting a few additional eggs into alternative systems.

Multi-Cloud Management Challenges

Regardless of company, just about everybody agrees that multi-cloud management involves careful planning and the right mix of talent. For instance:

  • More than half of the companies surveyed cited technical challenges and the demand for new skills and staff as unexpected;
  • integrating legacy systems created a challenge for 61 percent of respondents; and
  • understanding the new technology was a hindrance for 61 percent.

Companies also noted the difficulty in migrating and managing data from one cloud to another and ensuring all data is switched over without data loss.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges surrounding cloud adoption comes from its impact on people and processes. Data governance, skills, policies, adding or losing staff, a broader vendor set, and increased human error were all cited, were all impacted. This caused many of the experienced users to recommend doing proper research for any company considering a move to the cloud. This should ensure alignment and a positive outlook toward the changes, the study’s authors assert.

Changing Attitudes

One thing is for certain -- there is always a learning curve when adopting new technology. According to the report, organizations tend to view the technology more positively after using it for an extended amount of time.

Respondents in their first year of multi-cloud adoption rated the importance of all cloud benefits lower than users with six or more years experience. The biggest boost in attitude came from the improved benefits of cloud security, but users also reportedly enjoyed the benefits of scalability, increased agility, and data privacy. Interestingly, the perceived benefits associated with efficiency changed the least though, increasing only 5.1 percent after six years.

Whether companies enjoy success with a multi-cloud solution seems to be a question of time. One thing is for sure, as business needs evolve, more organizations will be looking for new solutions and employing a multi-cloud environment is one way to remain nimble in a fast-paced industry.