The days of the single cloud are gone. This change is driven by the breadth of technology options, potential cost savings, and the need for business agility.  However, enterprises making the move to multi-cloud face critical choices.  The failure to consider common risks can diminish or even eliminate the benefits of multi-cloud.

The solution includes a cloud-agnostic management platform designed to simplify as well as manage enterprise workloads.  Moreover, a platform with the ability to manage services, and third-party cloud resources across private and public clouds that work as a unified system for the enterprise.

Core to this system is the ability to orchestrate the delivery of infrastructure, applications, and services across multiple clouds, including many brands and types.  Also, the ability to manage these many cloud services using a “single pane of glass,” and automation of cloud management services.

According to this report by IHS Markit, “Enterprises are not only diversifying the location of their cloud services (from on-premises to off- premises), they are also growing the number of CSPs (cloud service providers) used to manage their IT needs. North American enterprise respondents to our survey reported using an average of 6 CSPs in 2016, but anticipate growing that number to be 8 in 2018. In effect, respondents are indicating enterprises are creating their “cloud of clouds”, or multi-clouds.”

Most enterprises already have the multi-cloud religion, typically driven by a need to have better control over their cloud solution.  By leveraging multiple clouds, they can mix and match cloud services.  Even play one cloud provider off another to get the best prices and resources.

However, multi-cloud comes at a cost; the cost is complexity.  While you may enjoy the choices, you must now deal with a multitude of cloud storage solutions, security systems, and virtual compute, and they all need love and attention using their native cloud management services.

The organizations that leverage multi-cloud must also maintain skill sets for each cloud platform that is a part of their multi-cloud portfolio.  This has a tendency to drive up operational costs, and the fact that there are teams for each cloud may drive confusion within IT as well.

A simpler approach would be to leverage a cloud management platform (CMP) or cloud service broker (CSB) that would provide a layer of abstraction between the multiple clouds and those who manage the clouds.  The idea is that you place the complexity into a domain, and the humans use a single-pane-of-glass with a common interface to manage all back-end cloud resources.  The tools deal with the complexity for you.

So, what are the steps that you need to take to be successful?

First, make sure to understand your own requirements.  Each cloud brought into the portfolio should have some justification.  The idea that we bring clouds under management because we think they might be needed could mean that you operate a cloud you’ll never use.  On the other hand, specialized database technology that’s native to a cloud provider would be a reason to add that cloud to your multi-cloud solution.

Second, create a management strategy before onboarding the clouds.  Understand how to deal with the complexity around the patterns of use.  These patterns typically include development, production, and operations.

Finally, select your tooling.  No matter if you use one tool or six, you need to automate as much as you can.  The ability to abstract you from the complexity, while still maintaining effective management, is key to the success of multi-cloud.

Multi-clouds are the new normal in the world of cloud computing.  With a bit of understanding, a lot of planning, and some of the slick new tools, you should be able to make it work for your enterprise.

Editor’s Note:  To learn more about CenturyLink’s multi-cloud management capabilities, visit this page or contact your CenturyLink account representative.

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