How IT Operations Can Survive and Thrive in a Multi-cloud World

Bill Talbot

IT Operations Can Thrive in a Multi-cloud World

IT operations teams are contending with the reality that growing volumes of workloads are running across multiple cloud services. While multi-cloud environments are growing ubiquitous, many IT operations teams are still trying to get by with the same tools they’ve been using for years. The reality is that many tools designed to optimize on-premises data center resources simply don’t suffice for applications and workloads running in public clouds. Consequently, as the use of cloud services grows prevalent, so does the incidence of cost overruns and security exposure. New approaches are required for IT and cloud operations teams to succeed in today’s multi-cloud world.

Taking a Modern Approach

Organizations of virtually every size and type are growing increasingly reliant on the cloud. While each organization may be at different phases of the journey, the reality for most businesses is that a multi-cloud future is now. A Gartner report projected that the worldwide public cloud services market will grow 17.3% in 2019 to total $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018.

For many IT organizations, this new multi-cloud reality is a hard one. In many cases, business leaders are making the move to the cloud because of the perceived speed and agility shortcomings of internal IT teams. Further, when it comes to helping support the business’ need to manage cost and security in this new paradigm, these teams are working with traditional tools that leave them ill-equipped to respond.

Traditional tools were designed to optimize On-Premises data center resources, and simply don’t work well for public cloud-based workloads. They often require manual, lengthy install, set up and configuration as well as ongoing upgrades and maintenance, which makes them ill-suited to the dynamic shifting of resources and workloads that are commonplace in today’s cloud-native environments.

Tool limitations impede IT operations teams’ ability to adapt to evolving environments and business requirements, and prevent businesses from capitalizing on the inherent advantages of cloud models. For example, the self-service consumption models of cloud services can provide a business with tremendous flexibility and agility. However, legacy management tools force IT operations teams to choose between limiting governance and visibility or limiting business users’ access.

Runaway Costs

Within many organizations, cloud operations teams are relegated to using a patchwork of point solutions that are specific to a particular technology or cloud service provider. For example, a team may use one tool for managing Azure provisioning and another tool for AWS monitoring. As a result, cloud operations teams lack unified visibility and controls that span across the organization’s cloud platforms, services, and accounts. Not only does this degrade staff efficiency, but the maintenance overhead to collect non-integrated point tools is a burden on time-constrained and highly paid cloud operations staff. Their time would be better spent on the strategic efforts that boost business performance.

Given lack of visibility and control, cloud or IT operations teams can only react to the prior month’s bill. Due to the massive scale of cloud expenditures, even the smallest of variances aren’t trivial. Just as one example, Pinterest spent $190 million on AWS in 2018, a figure that was $20 million over budget. While some of this overspending may be associated with unexpected growth in usage, the reality is that a lot of money and resources are being wasted, whether through overprovisioning or non-retired resources.

Security Risks

Resource misconfigurations represent the top security risk in the cloud. A single misconfiguration can expose critical data, including customer records, intellectual property, and more. Not surprisingly, incidents of exposure are growing more frequent and massive in scope. A recent study found that misconfigured cloud environments left 1.5 billion sensitive files exposed. Examples of this exposure are abundant. However, IT and cloud operations staff are poorly equipped to find and fix these misconfigurations.

Key Capabilities Needed to Manage Multi-Cloud Environments

To stay relevant in the age of the cloud, IT operations teams need to tackle these challenges, and begin offering increased value to increasingly cloud-reliant businesses. To thrive moving forward, IT operations teams need tools that are aligned with the realities of multi-cloud environments and cloud-native apps, including:

  • Machine Learning and advanced analytics. Teams need platforms that leverage analytics and machine learning to provide predictive insights and recommendations that enable proactive management of operating costs and security.
  • Automation. Given the scale and velocity of change within modern multi-cloud environments, automation is essential. Teams need automation to establish closed-loop processes, speed implementations and changes, and reduce complexity. For example, teams should be able to run automated security checks that not only find misconfigured resources, but can fix them quickly.
  • Service-level visibility. It is vital that IT operations teams gain service-level views, so staff members can track security and cost in the context of business services. This visibility is essential for intelligent prioritization.
  • Easy deployment and use. To be viable, platforms need to offer SaaS-based deployment and pre-packaged content that yield fast time to value.

Reaping the Rewards of Advanced Platforms

By employing advanced management platforms, IT and cloud operations teams can realize several key benefits. With these tools, IT and cloud operations teams can enhance security by establishing policy-driven governance. They can also leverage machine learning insights and automation to gain improved controls while substantially improving operational efficiency. Finally, teams can optimize cost efficiency by gaining improved visibility into cost, enabling better control and fewer surprises. Further, they can reduce the waste associated with overprovisioning and orphaned resources.

For IT and cloud operations teams, the status quo isn’t sustainable. Today’s multi-cloud environments pose entirely new challenges and require fundamentally new tools and approaches. To stay relevant and add value to the business moving forward, IT and cloud operations teams need to adopt advanced platforms that offer unified visibility and automated control over multi-cloud environments.

By Bill Talbot

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