Hybrid and multi-cloud are here to stay, but without a clear and intentional implementation strategy, roadblocks await unwitting organizations.

Hybrid and multi-cloud is now the status quo. This should be no surprise to IT leaders, as every piece of research in recent years indicates this is the case.

Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report reveals that 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, and 80% have a hybrid cloud strategy. IBM and Forrester research from earlier this year finds that 89% of IT decision makers believe a hybrid cloud environment is able to easily and securely store and move data and workloads.

SUSE’s global survey of more than 800 IT leaders has found the focus is gradually shifting from hybrid cloud to multi-cloud:

  • 85% of IT leaders rank multi-cloud strategy as their most important technology approach
  • 69% of organizations say they currently have a multi-cloud strategy
  • 28% say they are working on this in the next two years

To progress their multi-cloud strategy, 55% of organizations say they now need to build cloud competencies and skills in the IT team, and 48% agree that they need a clear cloud adoption vision and plan.

Yet we know these intentions often are not matched in reality. Too often we see organizations hitting roadblocks in their hybrid and multi-cloud journey because their adoption of public and private clouds has been more incidental and ad hoc than deliberate and strategic.

Some may have workloads in a particular public cloud for addressing peak demand periods while also hosting other workloads in private clouds to maintain compliance and security. Next thing they know, a new AI or analytics project requires another public cloud, and their cloud ecosystem grows piece by piece into something unwieldy and unmanageable.

The Kubernetes factor

Crucially, adopting a multi-cloud strategy means organizations can take advantage of the strengths of multiple cloud providers, optimize cost and avoid lock-ins with one specific vendor. Our research has shown that IT leaders viewed the biggest drivers towards a multi-cloud approach being cost-effectiveness (45%), increased flexibility and agility (44%), and taking advantage of best-of-breed solutions (35%).

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to access these benefits when your hybrid and multi-cloud strategy has not taken into account the increasing prevalence of containers and Kubernetes. What IT leaders in every sector need to recognize is, if hybrid and multi-cloud are now the IT model of the future, Kubernetes will be the operating system of the hybrid and multi-cloud.

Hence, in building a robust hybrid and multi-cloud strategy, organizations need to consider these six factors:

  1. Take a workload-centric approach: Matching applications and workloads to appropriate cloud platforms and options is crucial. Weigh up factors such as performance, elasticity, high availability, geography, security and data sovereignty and governance requirements.
  2. Decide on the best migration method for each workload: How will the applications be architected to take advantage of hybrid and multi-cloud, and where will the workload components be hosted? Will they operate in virtual machines or containers? How will you manage portability or bursting between cloud infrastructures?
  3. Build-in monitoring and governance: Cloud adoption, budgets, costs and spending will need to be closely monitored and managed. The hybrid and multi-cloud architecture and workload deployments will need to be regularly evaluated and adjusted.
  4. Start small, but move fast: It is often better to take an evolutionary approach rather than a revolutionary one. Define small sub-project elements that allow for the delivery of success in increments with quick, measurable wins.
  5. Discover the real costs: What are the true costs of moving to your chosen cloud architecture? Make sure to include all compute, storage, networking, software stack, tools and support cost elements for each cloud platform.
  6. Get buy-in from all stakeholders: Create realistic plans and communicate them to all stakeholders, including business leaders, vendors and service partners. Building the right team and maintaining their support throughout the project will be a critical factor.

The above considerations show that planning how and where you will deploy and manage Kubernetes will be as important to your hybrid and multi-cloud strategy as any other technology tool or approach.