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Strategies for managing a Hybrid Multi-cloud world

A conversation with Australian cloud leaders

The Outcomes

Cloud computing has come of age. Over the past decade cloud has been transformed from a technology for non-mission critical workloads to become the biggest IT change agent for many Australian organisations.

Now cloud is mainstream, how do we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past? How do we stop cloud sprawl replacing data centre sprawl, reproducing a world of inefficiency and management nightmares?

This was the question posed to over 40 of Australia’s leading cloud and technology leaders across Sydney and Melbourne at ADAPT roundtables in June 2019. Discussion centred around a number of areas:

  • Successful cloud migration, implementation and management is heavily dependent on balancing people and technologies in equal measure.
  • IT leaders need to build a closer alignment between IT and the business in order to manage disparate cloud environments – often outside of IT’s control and visibility.
  • IT leaders need to be more proactive in driving overall organisation cloud strategy and reinforcing the role IT can – and should – play as a partner rather than an adversary.
  • When looking at that wider cloud journey and strategy, balance the drive towards innovation with actual need and the perceived value that innovation can bring.
  • Embrace rather than fight shadow IT. Unearth the contributions it can bring to innovation in a more agile and economical fashion.
  • Balance transformation with the expectations and capabilities shadow IT can bring. These implementations can be innovation hubs within organisations.
  • Multiple clouds mean there will always be multiple operating environments. Determining what works with what and reducing management overhead is key.
  • Accept there is no single pane of glass resolution. IT leaders need to balance internal skills with those offered by their cloud providers and partners.
  • Organisations need more clarity on the pros and cons of a Capex versus Opex investment strategy.
  • Cloud providers must do a better job of providing clearer lines of sight to ongoing and longer-term pricing and resource management fluctuations.


The Topic

Business today is characterised by speed, change and new operating models. Digital products, services and experiences are everywhere. Powering this is the transformational capability of cloud, when fully leveraged.

The movement to cloud computing has gained unstoppable momentum. Yet these migrations are increasingly leaving organisations with a hybrid architecture split between on-premise processing and increasingly complex multi-cloud hybrid environments.

Increasingly many processing environments are turning into ‘cloud sprawl’. Most businesses are already running and trying to manage five or more cloud environments, often from multiple vendors across multiple and complex platforms.

The management challenge will only increase as the shift to cloud accelerates, as illustrated below.

The Conversation

The days of IT and its outcomes being about technology are over. The conversations at the roundtables in both Sydney and Melbourne centred around common themes related to people and transformation.

Within the typical large organisation there are usually many operational and technology silos. There are fixed mindsets and processes, resistance to change, and legacy technologies and systems.

Adopting a people first, technology second approach is critical when trying to overcome these entrenched cultures and mindsets. Balancing the right mix of business acumen versus technical awareness is an area that many technology leaders are struggling with.

As part of this increased focus on the people side,  a key topic of discussion at the roundtables was in relation to the culture of IT and the business, and around the increasing need to consider embedding both IT skills in the business and business skills in IT.

It is more important than ever to develop a destination, making a key part of the journey and its expected outcomes an increased engagement with and alignment between IT and the business.

An open and pragmatic mindset and approach, where IT is made less bureaucratic and engages more constructively with the business, is key to reinforcing the perceived ability, assistance and value IT can bring.”

One of the biggest challenges in working with external service providers is figuring out how multiple service providers should work together, and with the organisation’s internal IT staff. As a result, we are moving from selective best of the breed to multidisciplinary sourcing, where services are provided by many providers based on their core competencies.

This has been a problem for many years. It is getting worse with the increasing hybrid multi-cloud world that most organisations are now operating in. Many are finding themselves spending more with an increasing number of external service providers.

You need to be realistic around different cloud types. You need to decide which should be left to operate independently and which need to be managed as part of your hybrid multi-cloud strategy.

Not all clouds are the same. SaaS deployments will continue apace, often driven from outside of IT. It is important to remember that not all clouds and not all cloud challenges are created equal.

You may need to take a more programmatic approach to training, certification and skills. As we increase our investment in cloud the demands on our skills will increase. Conduct in-house audits to get a clear understanding of current skills and capabilities versus ongoing and future requirements,

Many of the issues raised and outcomes noted in the conversations are clearly illustrated in the responses to a question posed at ADAPTs Connected Cloud & Data Centre Edge event in March 2019, when attendees were asked about their key cloud migration challenges.

As cloud usage increases it is becoming more important than ever to have a clear line of sight to all cloud environments. This is necessary for managing consumption and for reducing data and management duplication, but most Australian organisations lack the tools and procedures to manage and operate in this increasingly complex hybrid multi-cloud world.

The Bottom Line

IT leaders are under constant pressure to show the business value of the ‘run-the-business’ IT spend. By the very nature of the term used to describe ‘run’, its value is seen as supporting, less valuable and lower priority activities than ‘grow’ or ‘transform’ spend.

Cloud, while increasingly the norm, continues to be a transformational approach to solving cumbersome and outdated approaches to IT and the services it delivers. As a result, many organisations are implementing cloud first or cloud minimum deployment strategies, which in turn are introducing new challenges of management, skills and efficiency to many companies.

That said, it is important that leaders balance the need or desire to transform and move to cloud while also leveraging the best of what we have.

As we consider the people angle, we should focus on ‘what’s in it for them’ as we encourage and support our employees developing and taking on new skills and capabilities in this increasingly fluid and cloud-driven world.

While many vendors talk about partnerships, connectivity and working well together, many organisations are increasingly challenged with dealing with different tools, approaches and pricing models.

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