Helping businesses to navigate their complex multi-cloud landscapes

Bradley Pulford Channel and Distribution Lead Dell Technologies South Africa

Multi-cloud models mean multi-cloud design, implementation and integration of private and public clouds. It’s here where partners can unlock new opportunities: helping organisations to navigate this complex landscape and to bring together the appropriate range of IT and services.

Cloud technology is now a crucial part of the enterprise IT strategy. A growing phenomenon among these businesses is a pick’n’mix approach to deploying cloud solutions, otherwise known as multi-cloud.

Today, more than eight out of ten enterprise decision-makers would describe their cloud strategy as multi-cloud. This is according to a recent survey conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of Virtustream. Multi-cloud is most commonly defined as using multiple public and private clouds for different application workloads. When asked about this shift to multiple cloud platforms, decision-makers heavily focused on flexibility and overall IT cost management. Many also noted that multi-cloud enables reliable disaster recovery, increased data security and compliance and varying performance levels.

The move to multi-cloud also marks a crucial shift in thinking among the enterprise. Having already endured years of costly digital transformation pain with minimal return, enterprise businesses are looking for solutions that provide the right outcomes. They are keen to align the use of cloud technologies with tangible business objectives such as operational efficiencies, ability to innovate and lower costs. With multi-cloud, businesses can play the field – choosing cloud platforms based on workload requirements and how well they map to the top business objectives. This allows businesses to define their multi-cloud strategies in terms of performance and cost savings.

More cloud, more confusion

According to Gartner, by 2021, more than half of global enterprises already using cloud today will adopt an all-in cloud strategy. This will mean even more cloud providers and solutions within one infrastructure. Having more technologies will always be more complex than having just one and this is no different for multi-cloud. Multi-cloud models mean multi-cloud design, implementation and integration of private and public clouds.

The enterprise may claim to have a clear multi-cloud approach in place, but the reality is many businesses have taken an ad hoc approach to deliver results quickly and at a lower cost – adapting their model to fit their specific needs over time. While this approach does yield benefits like increased agility and faster return on investment (RoI), it also breeds several challenges that can mitigate the drivers for adoption over time. For example, poorly managed multi-cloud can harm the speed at which a company can react to security issues.

What’s more, despite the need to closely align business objectives to cloud strategies, most decision-makers surveyed by Forrester felt that their business objectives were not being very well supported by their current cloud implementations. For example, only a third of respondents (33%) believe multi-cloud is supporting their efforts to lower costs – one of the top business objectives noted by decision makers.

It’s here that the opportunity for channel partners lies. Enterprise-level businesses are in desperate need of an expert to help them navigate this complex landscape and bring together the appropriate range of IT and services for efficiency optimisation and cost management as the architecture grows.

Seizing the multi-cloud opportunity, today

With the enterprise increasingly selecting multiple cloud platforms for different workloads, now is the right time for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to help businesses navigate this new complex landscape.

With the right vendor and channel partner, businesses can minimise the often-associated headaches with cloud and feel at ease that the promised benefits can be achieved almost immediately. Here is where a large opportunity lies for MSPs: providing expertise, skills and solutions needed to design a streamlined, best-of-breed approach for multi-cloud implementation.

For example, helping decision makers to define and develop their cloud strategies. All enterprise businesses have a substantial data footprint to protect. Yet, a complex cloud journey makes managing, harnesses and protecting this data extremely difficult without the right expertise. This business challenge provides MSPs with a chance to move from IT supplier to trusted advisor – offering guidance on data strategies across public and private cloud.

What’s more, as lowering costs is a critical driver in adopting multi-cloud for the enterprise, MSPs must ensure any cloud solution put forward is able to meet this need. The key to success for businesses is striking the right balance of CapEx and OpEx, while also ensuring enough flexibility to scale with business growth, but also reduce financial risk should consumption reduce.

Once the initial work is done, extensive follow-on professional services opportunities lay ahead for MSPs. Here they must be on-call to help move new applications to the cloud for existing enterprise customers. MSPs can also find opportunities in expand their offerings to include solutions that not only provide the sort-after benefits of multi-cloud – flexibility, simplicity and efficiency – but also ensure total data protection and security.

Building the right offerings can be tricky as there are many factors to consider. However, as the multi-cloud opportunity grows, MSPs will certainly need to differentiate their offerings. This might be an end-to-end solution for all enterprise companies, or tailored offerings that meet the specific needs of the enterprise industries they serve.

Customers want fewer companies, not more

Despite the move to multi-cloud, enterprise businesses are increasingly expressing their desire to work with fewer companies, not more, when it comes to digital transformation. This trend towards more complete solutions is something that MSPs should certainly be aware of when designing their offerings for multi-cloud.

Offering a holistic multi-cloud solution, which provides a consistent infrastructure and operating model that simplifies management across private, public, and edge resources, will be most appealing to enterprise businesses attending to get their complex, sprawling multi-cloud architecture under control.

Managing a multi-cloud world will be the number one enterprise issue by 2021. While multi-cloud models offer the flexibility that enterprise businesses need to transform fast, ad hoc deployment strategies will soon begin to undermine these drivers for adoption – if they have not already. Herein lies an opportunity for MSPs. With their extensive IT expertise, MSPs can provide helpful recommendations to customers on the best IT and services to help them tame their current multi-cloud environment. They can also serve as trusted advisors in management and transformation by partnering with vendors to offer more than just software, but also educational and consultancy services.

About the Author: Dell Technologies