Cloud is king, right? Democratizing IT to the masses. Speed, speed, speed. But wasn’t it supposed to simplify everything too?

With business convenience and agility came an IT spaghetti chart of systems. SaaS Silos. IaaS sprawl. Legacy data integration nightmares. Throw in some Big Data and Hybrid Cloud initiatives. Sound familiar? This spaghetti chart is the multi-cloud maze IT must navigate.

When chatting with customers, I usually ask, “How many Cloud Services are you using?” CIO’s, CTO’s and Architects usually always pause… rightfully so. Business groups and developers need to move faster than ever. Faster than IT has been able to react (nefarious “Shadow IT”).

Most enterprise CIO’s estimate roughly 90 cloud services. Cisco’s Cloud Consumption Service says?

IT, across industries, on average discovers 1,220 cloud services! And that number is only accelerating!

The reality is IT faces a multi-cloud maze. A swelling population of SaaS apps. Various public cloud environments, some approved and many not (Shadow IT). What about a multi-environment data strategy? Compliance and Risk Management? Customer Data governance? All of these challenges add to the complexity of the multi-cloud maze.

Here are 3 Keys for IT to successfully navigate the multi-cloud maze:

1: Multi-cloud Governance

You can’t manage what you can’t see. How many public cloud services are your users accessing? What sensitive data is involved? What is your company really spending on cloud? I think we are compliant?

Ignorance is not bliss in a post-Snowden world. No company can be blind about its data and security controls. IT cannot be an ostrich with its head in the sand to both risk AND business demand. Governance gets a bad wrap. Yes, if done poorly it’s process overkill. If executed well, it mitigates risk and aligns IT with business strategy.

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IT does not need to manage every cloud service they discover. However, they do need to own the multi-cloud governance strategy. IT needs to optimize across security risk, compliance, and business strategy.

Maybe Steph Curry can shoot blind. But CIOs need visibility into existing cloud usage before they can tackle multi-cloud governance. This snapshot of the existing cloud landscape will serve as the foundation for your multi-cloud governance strategy. With visibility comes enlightenment. With enlightenment comes the power to begin Data Governance, across clouds.

Cloud discovery tools such as Cisco Cloud Consumption Service simplify multi-cloud governance. The SaaS solution discovers and continually monitors network traffic across 150 risk parameters so that you can sleep a little bit easier at night. By conducting a Shadow IT audit, IT can accurately gain visibility into their existing risk profile. Based on the severity of data and criticality of operations impacted, an action plan can be built to address any major risks, demands, and cloud cost challenges.

Cloud Consumption Portal2. Chief Integration Officer

Business demands are accelerating and IT budgets are shrinking. IT has more project requests than bandwidth or budget. Nothing new, but the pace is accelerating. Obviously IT can not do it all. Multi-cloud governance is not about handcuffing the business for going rogue. Instead, it’s about optimizing risks, costs, and strategy. However, this optimization must address the spaghetti chart of SaaS, IaaS, and legacy systems. This paradigm yields a new role for IT, Chief Integration Officer.

Certain legacy apps will never be re-written for the cloud. However, if ‘data is the new gold’, IT must connect and integrate data to unlock business value.

As Chief Integration offer, consolidating redundant IaaS can save millions

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This involves connecting both systems of record (typically legacy and SaaS) and systems of engagement (SaaS). To be successful IT needs to consider a composable architecture of APIs and microservices. New business apps can be developed exposing data in legacy systems via APIs, creating endless possibilities for business innovation. With a composable API mindset, IT can integrate data across a plethora of SaaS apps as well. More importantly, this approach empowers IT to take on more projects AND deliver them more quickly.

In addition to integrating data resulting from cloud sprawl, IT can begin to align their capabilities and roadmap with business demand. One beautiful thing about cloud discovery tools such as Cloud Consumption Service, is that it provides visibility into the true needs of your users. With these insights, IT can begin a capabilities analysis of IT’s existing services.  These can then be cross-referenced with business needs. This model enacts “IT as a Broker of Cloud Services”. IT can implement a single uniform catalog for users to choose from various approved cloud providers. For example, IT can consolidate multiple public cloud instances across the company, saving millions. Millions that can be reinvested into the business as new projects.

3. A Happy Hacker Strategy

Have you used a public cloud? The experience as a developer is amazing. Enter your credit card information and run. Need more resources? Click. Tear down a server and start over? Click. Want APIs for granular access to configure and automate every part of your deployments exactly the way you need them? No problem. Built-in integration with the modern tools? Of course.

Shadow IT is not the bubonic plague as some may say. Rather it’s the response of businesses needing to move faster than ever. It’s the response of employees who are at the heart of driving innovation in the business, ‘Developers, Developers, Developers’.


Developers want to move fast. They want to use their tools, now. So to truly have a multi-cloud strategy, IT needs to think through a Happy Hacker strategy. A strategy with developer speed and convenience at its heart.

By conducting a capabilities analysis of IT and user needs you can begin to shrink any gap. For example, we have customers who were blind to the true needs of their users. After gaining visibility into Shadow IT usage, they then sanctioned and consolidated public cloud instances ($$$). Additionally, they offered managed private clouds with PaaS integration such as Cisco Metapod for the ultimate agility. Developers are happy with modern tools and platforms and IT doesn’t have to undertake a complex cloud initiative solo.

So there are 3 keys to help navigate the multi-cloud maze: Multi-cloud governance, Chief Integration Officers, and a Happy Hacker strategy.

Let me know how your multi-cloud maze journey is going and safe travels!

Jamie Alfieri,

Twitter: AlfieriJamie

Want to Learn More?

If you would like to learn more cloud governance best practices,  we invite you to join our free Webinar Series:

  • Multi-Cloud Governance Simplified: April 14 9AM PST / 12PM EST
  • Healthcare Compliance and Risk Simplified Across Clouds: April 21 9AM PST / 12PM EST
  • Easily Control Shadow IT and Risk Across Clouds: April 26 9AM PST / 12PM EST












Jamie Alfieri

Product Marketing: Cisco Intercloud Services