The world is going multicloud. Organizations seeking the efficiency, speed, scalability and reduced costs the cloud promises, are rapidly moving applications and data out of their on-premises environments and into the private and public clouds, and increasingly – for high availability and disaster recovery – to more than one cloud. According to an IDC survey from last year, 94 percent of respondents plan to use multiple clouds in the future and 87 percent are developing a hybrid cloud strategy.

Multicloud portfolio Cisco Cloud

Multicloud has become a cornerstone of what we do here at Cisco. It’s the direction that industry is going, and we are rapidly building out our capabilities to not only help customers map out their strategies for the cloud, but also to help them manage, monitor and secure their applications and data once they’re in these highly distributed Multicloud environments. Cisco Multicloud Solutions are based on the four pillars of our multicloud initiative – Cloud Advisory, Cloud Connect, Cloud Protect and Cloud Consume – and Cisco can help guide businesses from their initial planning stages and the migration and deployment to the cloud to managing and protecting their assets over the multiple clouds.

Over the series of three blogs, we will talk about this increasingly multicloud world and how customers can leverage Cisco technologies and services to make the transition easier and more productive. In this first blog, we’ll talk about the rise of the multicloud environment and what needs to be considered when moving to the cloud. The second one will address the challenges that the multicloud poses for customers and, in the last blog, the Cisco offerings available to customers.

The IT Journey

Looking at the evolution of IT from the mainframe to client-server computing to virtualization to cloud and now the multicloud, many customer drivers remain the same: Is this going to lower my IT cost? Is this going to give my LOBs better time-to-market? Is this going to enable profitability and increase shareholder value? IT struggled to connect to profitability and shareholder value, but it took on agility, lower TCO, faster innovation, and an applications economy for running the business.

Shadow IT to IT Adopting the Multicloud

In the last decade, LOBs faced intense competition driven by the innovation, efficiencies and effectiveness of doing the business at warp speed. Meanwhile, IT was challenged in trying to keep up with current technology investments, reduce technical debt, adopt new technologies to help LOBs, address compliance needs, and fight for the IT budget. LOBs soon realized that IT – though critical to the company – needed to help better combat the competition by leveraging business applications to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness in such areas as customer service, product awareness and mobile apps. To create and manage applications, LOBs embraced public clouds, such as AWS, instead of their own IT, and succeeded in doing so beyond imagination. This started the shadow IT era. As the public cloud choices evolved beyond AWS, LOBs became more mature in using them. IT pros felt they were way behind in helping LOBs and staying relevant in an evolving cloud economy. Some IT took on the role of a broker for LOBs to deal with public cloud providers. In the last year or so, CIOs and IT executives came under extreme pressure due to a lack of agility and cost reductions to bring in public clouds as part of their IT investment mix. LOBs has proven the benefits of public clouds for their own use but in a silo ways. Under that influence and perception of quick success, many CIOs and IT execs created the mandate to adopt multiple public clouds, kicking off the multicloud era. Some IT pros, though not always ready to execute on it, decided to look at the public cloud first before using IT on-premises, an initiative that became known as “Cloud-First.”. Though the mandate is strong and focused and even silo IT teams are coming together with enterprise cloud architect leading the effort and reporting directly in the office of CIO, the readiness of such primed companies are far from reality. In spite of the mandate, these companies have varying degree of understanding and use of public cloud in the past and show less maturity to take on the Multicloud journey. See IDC survey we did and only 11% even make it to optimized thinking of creating a Multicloud strategy. So imagine the work ahead of the companies to get started on such a mandate with the right Multicloud strategy!

Cloud Optimization Cisco Cloud

Making the Right Choice – An Actionable Multicloud Strategy

IT executives are faced with many choices and criteria, but they need to make informed choices that fit their needs. Many IT teams are under extreme pressure to adopt a public cloud and at times make the choice in rush. There are many elements to making that right choice. Here are some key considerations for creating a multicloud strategy:

  • Decide how many apps you intend to move or run on a public cloud service.
  • Identify applications you want to use with a public cloud IaaS or PaaS provider and map their dependencies based on services they consume.
  • Identify applications you want to stop using, opting instead for SaaS alternatives, such as Office365 Vs running MS Exchange server on-premises.
  • Identify applications you will not move to the public cloud.
  • Identify applications that need to run on a scalable modern private cloud.
  • Identify application infrastructure needs from IT applications teams and LOBs and whether using public clouds addresses those needs.
  • Consider what fragmented solutions have been in production that were implemented by or for LOBs, and what transition requirements are necessary for replacing these solutions.

IT execs also need to understand the different types of public clouds:

  • Public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers
  • Public cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications

These choices may seem easy, but the challenge is matching applications needs to the right public cloud providers, which come in many different flavors:

  • Hyperscale cloud providers (cloud-unlimited)
  • Infrastructure-only cloud providers
  • Cost-effective tier-2 cloud providers
  • Clouds with deep focus on app development
  • Clouds with focus on batch processing, which offer a lot of compute
  • Clouds suitable for creating Internet of things (IoT) apps
  • Clouds with container technology and support for managing microservices
  • Clouds for business apps – such as ERP workloads – rather than running them on-premises
  • Clouds with various services and third-party apps

Cisco Cloud Multicloud Portfolio

After IT executives consider their myriad options, creating implementation plans and phases with proof of value and success milestones is critical. In the next blog, we’ll outline the networking, security and consumption challenges presented by the multicloud environment and how to overcome those hurdles. Read Part 2 and Part 3 now.