The benefits and challenges of a multi-cloud approach in 2023

Why multi-cloud in 2023? Bryan O'Connor returns to the subject to outline some of the opportunities, challenges and solutions available in a growing multi-cloud environment.

Why multi-cloud in 2023? What are the challenges? How can VMware help?

In 2020, I wrote an article outlining the case for multi-cloud and VMware. Since then, the technological landscape has shifted and VMware has evolved, so I wanted to write a new, updated version that takes this into account.

The benefits of multi-cloud include speed, built-in compliance, flexibility and the option to choose the right cloud product for the right department. But does this still hold true in 2023?

At the end of 2022, Fortune Business Insights released a report which stated that 90% of large companies now use a combination of cloud services. In 2019, that number was around 58%, so we’ve seen a proliferation of the multi-cloud approach in a fairly short time span.

So, should the question even be, “Why multi-cloud”? It sounds like the vast majority of organisations are now convinced! Well, that statistic of 90% doesn’t give the whole picture:

  • Business justification: as the cloud evolves, it’s good to evaluate your current state with your desired results, i.e., revisit why you adopted this approach.
  • “Accidental” multi-cloud adopters: organisations may not have visibility over their whole tech-stack and may, without knowing, be multi-cloud.
  • Siloed users: one of the benefits of multi-cloud is being able to select the solution that best suits the department or function it will be used in. However, often organisations do this without considering how keeping these clouds separate to one another impacts efficiency.
  • Nothing is universal: 90% of organisations use multi-cloud, but 10% don’t! If you’re in the 10%, you might want to read my introductory blog on the benefits of multi-cloud.

Why multi-cloud in 2023?

As more organisations adopt a multi-cloud approach, new opportunities and challenges have arisen. What’s more, organisations in the 58% who were using multi-cloud in 2019 have reached a higher stage of cloud maturity, which itself presents new opportunities and challenges.

The embrace of multi-cloud has spiked in the last two years, as organisations have navigated the impact of the global pandemic. While 38% of organisations reported using multiple public clouds two years ago, that number has increased to 64% and is expected to grow to 72% over the next five years.

Here’s what multi-cloud has to offer in 2023:

Opportunity: The rise of AI

Artificial Intelligence continues to progress and many major vendors, including VMware, are now offering products with AI capabilities. A recent report by Tractica predicted that AI will account for around 50% of public cloud revenue by 2025.

So how might you use AI? Two common uses are predictive analytics and automation, which allow you to be more time-efficient and targeted in how you interact with customers.

However, making sure that your AI can learn means ensuring it can work across your clouds, so that it receives the full picture.

Opportunity: Serverless cloud

Many vendors require the lease of servers or fixed amounts of storage as part of their product offering. Serverless cloud is different: it offers pay-as-you-go server access which scales with your organisation. It is also technically less complex, eliminating the need for the particulars of infrastructure. VMware Tanzu allows you to do this in a multi-cloud context.

Challenge: The hybrid multi-cloud

The hybrid multi-cloud refers to the use of multiple public cloud systems and private on-premises systems (this latter part is the hybrid element).

Organisations employing this approach will need to find a way to both make their public cloud systems work in harmony with each other, and ensure that these systems can work with the private systems in harmony.

Hybrid cloud tends to be more costly to run than multi-cloud alone… so you can imagine how costs may spiral if you have multiple public clouds. This makes using a solution that can integrate hybrid and multi-cloud systems so essential.

Challenge: Cloud Sprawl has increased

It’s natural that Cloud Sprawl has increased given the rise in multi-cloud use. Cloud Sprawl is a term used to describe a cloud that grows “out-of-control”, i.e., to a point where visibility of the entire structure is lost and there is little to no strategy for managing multiple clouds.

According to VMware themselves, “[…] the highest-revenue-growth companies are actually using fewer public clouds than shrinking or low-growth companies. This indicates a more thoughtful, strategic approach to multi-cloud on the part of the hyper-growth companies — ensuring that they are maximising the potential of each individual cloud.”

When you lose visibility on your systems, a variety of issues crop-up – the most prevalent are: a proliferation in cyber-attacks, cloud waste of up to 33% of the total cloud budget and 78% of organisations detecting cloud cost anomalies late.

How can VMware training help?

Whether you’re already using multiple clouds or you’re early in that journey, there are a variety of solutions that can make them more manageable.

VMware is a solution that can:

  • Integrate your clouds, so that from a technical perspective, they work together rather than in parallel.
  • Create visibility of where your data is, so that you can eliminate duplicates, prevent data loss and ensure security.
  • Analyse the performance of your cloud based on your KPIs.
  • Integrate Artificial Intelligence into the solution.
  • Work hand-in-hand with your on-premises systems.
  • Is built on years of best-practice and is regularly updated.

We don’t use VMware – where do I begin?

VMware’s building block for cloud solutions is VMware Cloud Foundation, a product suite that contains 2 solutions:

  • vSphere8
  • VMware NSX

In order to ensure that you can get a head start on using these products, be sure to invest in training your people. The entry-level VMware certification is the VMware Technical Associate, with 6 variations depending on the job role of the individual.

There is also VMware vSphere+, a new product from VMware to allow customers to buy a subscription based VMware solution. Bring benefits of the cloud to on-premises by deploying high-value cloud services to easily build, run, manage, and secure traditional and next-gen applications.

Training your people is indispensable when using VMware: it ensures that your people are working within best-practice, prevents knowledge gaps leading to missed opportunities and builds upon existing knowledge around AWS, Google, Microsoft or your other cloud solutions.

We already use VMware – what should our next steps be?

This is a tough one to answer as it varies by organisation! I’d recommend the following steps:

  1. Audit your systems to see how they are matching up to your business expectations.
  2. Identify any knowledge gaps that are preventing you from reaching certain objectives or would prevent you from building upon your previous successes.
  3. Decide whether your current VMware set-up is enough for your needs, or whether you need to introduce new VMware products.
  4. Book the appropriate training needed to upskill your people, based on the actions you’ve identified above!

If you want to learn more about VMware training, check out the organisational benefits of WMware training.

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