Businesses can’t afford to have their heads in the clouds – Business Post

The cloud is at the centre of business computing today, and recent reports bear this out.

Rightscale’s 2019 State of the Cloud report found that 84 per cent of enterprises describe their IT infrastructure as “multi-cloud”, while McAfee’s 2019 Cloud Risk and Adoption report stated that 87 per cent experienced “business acceleration” as a result of cloud adoption.

Anecdotally, these figures make sense. There is barely a medium-to-large business today that does not have some cloud in its IT mix, and many of the larger outfits use a hybrid combination of public and private clouds.

Still, the idea that 84 per cent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, with multiple and distinct providers, seems unlikely, both globally and in particular in Ireland.

Multi-cloud is possible, but not desirable for all

Peter Rose, chief technical officer of TEKenable, said that people using multiple public clouds are a rarity.

“What we’ve seen – and we work with a lot of multinationals – is that they tend to have their own private cloud using a data centre somewhere, or a private reserved area in public cloud. But they tend to not use more than one public cloud such as IBM, Amazon Web Services and so on,” he said.

Peter Rose, TEKenable CTO

The reasons for the choice of which one to use can be based on perception that one provider is a better fit for certain tasks. But it can also be because of long-standing prejudices.

“If you’re an open-source guy, you think Microsoft is the evil empire, and if you’re a Microsoft guy you think the open-source guys are a bunch of long-haired hippies. That’s not the truth, but it has sort of stuck,” he said.

In any case, he said, multiple cloud providers tend to not be used because doing so introduces too much complexity. “I think it’s extremely difficult to run multi-cloud,” Rose said

For a start, it means that data sharing within a business becomes troublesome.

“Getting the right level of exercise is very, very difficult because the platforms are so different. You need a multiplicity of skills, you have two environments to monitor and secure. Basically, you have introduced another level of complexity in monitoring and security, plus you create artificial boundaries between the applications,” said Rose.

From a security point of view, complexity is bad. If you introduce more complexity, you either make things less secure or make it an order of magnitude harder to achieve the same level of security. Complexity is your enemy. You want, ideally, a single level of identity management across your in-house setup and your cloud.

Peter Rose, CTO TEKenable

Hybrid public-private set-ups are typically less complex, he said, and so they are significantly more common. “They tend to have one express-route connection from the private cloud out to the public cloud,’ said Rose.

The business case for IT

Cloud arguably first penetrated enterprise as shadow IT, often in the form of services such as Dropbox being used in an unauthorised manner. But even when cloud received the blessing of IT departments, there was a sense that it was a gold rush rather than something aimed squarely at addressing business need.

For example, cloud’s ability to deliver scalability is much-ballyhooed, but is it relevant? Not always, said TEKenable’s Peter Rose. “Scalability is really only important for internet-facing businesses,” he said.

He also said some workloads will produce lower costs faster than others. After all, existing leasing contracts don’t disappear the minute you sign up with a cloud provider.

“Where we see paybacks much faster when we are moving development and test loads,” Rose said.

The above text excerpts reproduced here first appeared in Business Post written by Jason Walsh, on February 2nd, 2020.

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