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Benefits and challenges of working in multiple clouds

Published by Luc Hendrikx
May 31, 2021 @ 3:12 PM

This article was written by Luc Hendrikx, CEO of CIONET International. It is based on a discussion during a exclusive online lunch with Belgian Digital Leaders on May 27th. This event was organised by CIONET with the support of Dell and VMware.

Challenges of working in multiple clouds

Multi-cloud has become the "master-key for driving digital innovation at the speed of business". According to a recent study by Dell and VMware, 93% of organisations are already working across multiple clouds. Our panel confirms that working in a multi-cloud environment is the new normal.

Multi-cloud is often a consequence rather than a conscious choice. A new business opportunity and the ability to implement it at speed convinces organisations to start using an additional cloud that they hadn't used before. Cost reduction or the desire to reduce the vendor lock-in risks through portable applications are not considered to be the main drivers for a multi-cloud strategy.

To succeed in their multi-cloud transformation, our panellists are focussed on addressing the following key challenges in the near future:

  1. Cloud service providers innovate at the speed of light. New technologies, capabilities and feature are released all the time. Keeping up with the speed of development of all these clouds is probably the biggest challenge. The percentage of the features of these clouds that is actually used by an average organisation is estimated by our panel to be less than 5%. They consider it nearly impossible to keep up. Their advice is to always start from the conviction that the solution to any given problem already exists somewhere in the cloud and that you just need to find it. Digital Leaders and their teams need to study cloud features on a continuous basis and act as a driver for business innovation. Organising this as a process remains a challenge. In many organisations scouting and gatekeeping is taken care of by the architecture teams. Working with proactive technology and business partners that continuously come forward with suggestions makes a massive difference.
  2. Making a future proof architecture in the multi-cloud world is key. Without a big master plan, many small technical choices can quickly add up to a complex spiderweb. The cloud then starts to hold you back instead of making you more agile.
  3. Consistency and harmonisation between cloud environments remains a challenge. The operational complexity of using multiple clouds can become overwhelming without standard solutions for things such as monitoring, integration and deployment. 
  4. Implementing Security solutions that work across the multiple clouds also remains a challenge. It requires working together with the information security team from the very beginning.
  5. Business continuity and disaster recovery is often neglected in the multi-cloud environment. Your cloud provider usually makes available a number of services and techniques that can help you ensure business continuity. However, you remain accountable for it. It's a common misconception that disaster recovery and even business continuity is 'automatically taken care of by the provider'.  
  6. Multi-cloud requires new and more advance cost management practices. A new financial model and cost model is needed that allows to deal with this and distribute the costs to the consuming business functions and users. Drivers for cloud expenditure are not always very transparent. Advance financial ops is needed to manage this on an ongoing basis and to avoid that cost spiral out of control. 
  7. Cloud contracts tend to be long and complicated. Service providers insist on standard contracts and negotiating deviations remains hard. Make sure you don’t agree to anything you don’t want.
  8. Culture and perceptions still play a big role in multi-cloud transformations. Key stakeholders like top executives, policy makers, business owners, application owners, etc. often base their decisions on 'old truths'. Continuous educations on the latest state of affairs on cloud technologies is paramount. 

Successful multi-cloud transformations turn out to be less about technology and more about adopting new capabilities including People and Process.

I would like to thank our panellists for the constructive discussion, their insights and the great learnings. During this executive lunch, our panel consisted of:

  • Jan Jannes, Delivery Executive at NRB
  • Serguei Konovalov, Business Applications Advisor at FedEx
  • Sophie Decock, BeLux Country Manager at VMware
  • Michaël Boeckx, Chief Security Officer at The NRB Group
  • Tommy Van Roye, Global Head of ICT Production at Kinepolis
  • Arnaud Bacros, General Manager, Dell Technologies
  • Wim Claeys, Head of ICT, Crelan
  • Lien Callens, CIO, TVH Parts
  • Birgitta Brys, Chief Customer Service Officer "GBL Merchant Services" at Worldline
  • Jos Echelpoels, Sr. Dir, Global Pharma IT architecture at Janssen Pharmaceutical
  • Kalman Tiboldi, CTO & Founder, Member of the Board at GEM One

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