Can too many clouds cause too much complexity?

Speed, agility, and quick access to resources are all reasons why enterprises are choosing cloud computing

And as IT operators and developers become more experienced, they realize more cloud options means they can place workloads where they are best suited – on premises, off premises, in private clouds, or in public clouds.

Selecting the right deployment strategy can save money and increase performance. Yet, can an enterprise have too many clouds – creating more complexity where IT is trying to simplify?

To discuss the issue of multi-cloud sprawl, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner, interviews Harsh Singh, Director of Product Management for Hybrid Cloud Products and Solutions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). During this Voice of the Innovator podcast, the two industry experts discuss how to regain control over complexity problems caused by haphazard multi-cloud adoption.

Too much complexity: the downside of multi-cloud

Many believe multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are the future of enterprise computing because this strategy provides more flexibility to select the ideal computing environment for every workload. Yet, many businesses are now seeing the downside of so many choices – complexity is rearing its ugly head. As hybrid cloud adoption continues to grow, taming this issue is a top priority for the enterprise.

Singh explains, “As organizations add more cloud environments and different tools, it leads to tool sprawl. People are tying all of these tools together, trying to figure out the cost of these different environments and if they are in compliance with the various norms within their organization. It’s all becoming very complex very quickly.”

To address this complexity problem, Singh says an enterprise needs to manage three things better – people, processes, and technology. “When connecting private or off-premises hybrid clouds, you have multiple tools, multiple environments, and multiple people who need training; and the processes need to be in place for them to operate properly.”

Runaway costs, compliance, and security concerns

Gardner added that he believes a fourth concern is in play – economics. “One of the things that really motivates a business to change is when money is being lost and the business people think there is a way to resolve that.”

Singh agrees, recounting a recent conversation he had with a CIO of a major entertainment media company. Her team had a cloud-first strategy, but the economics piece was troubling. They didn’t have a good handle on where their virtual machines and workloads were running. At the end of the month, the CIO saw hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. In addition to the negative economic surprise, compliance issues concerned her.

Although benefits of multi and hybrid cloud are huge, customers need visibility, says Singh. “They don’t know what’s being utilized. Sometimes they are under-utilized; sometimes they are over-utilized. And they don’t know what they are going to end up paying at the end of the day.”

For example, an organization may launch a large number of virtual machines (VMs) in the public cloud, because that’s what they are used to doing on premises. But they end up consuming only 10 to 20% of the capacity. “What they don’t realize is they are paying for the whole bill. More visibility is going to become key to getting a handle on these things,” explains Singh.

So how do you balance that need for governance, security, and cost control with not stifling innovation and allowing creative freedom?

“A key criteria is to provide guardrails, yet not stifle innovation for the line of business managers and developers,” replies Singh. “You do that by allowing the lines of business and developers to access the resources they need, but within the compliance and business requirements that IT sets up.”

The problem with cloud management tools

Gardner asks Singh to discuss why businesses can’t just use today’s current crop of cloud management tools. After all, each public cloud vendor provides software for cloud management, so options are certainly available to choose from.

The problem with current solutions is each cloud provider is acting in their own best interest, says Singh. For example, a business may have deployments on premises and in both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and in Google Cloud Platform (GCP). It’s not possible for the business to tie all of these different platforms together using a single cloud vendor’s tool.

“The reality is that AWS has no interest in looking at builds coming out of GCP or Microsoft Azure—much less anything coming from an enterprise’s private cloud,” continues Singh. A neutral third party solution is needed, because each cloud vendor is focused on their services and what they are delivering. A third party can come in to tie everything together, so that the customer is not locked into one environment.

Singh explains that it’s a struggle to tie these worlds together. “I’ve seen customers spend months and months, and sometimes years, putting together a solution from various vendors, tying them together, and deploying something on premises and also trying to tie that to an off-premises environment.”

Connect all clouds, quickly and easily

This is where HPE can help. As a neutral third party, HPE changes how businesses manage on-premises and off-premises environments with a consumption-based IT service called HPE GreenLake Hybrid Cloud.

This IT as a service (ITaaS) offering sets up processes to manage cloud resources in a customer’s environment of choice; establishes specific cost, security, and compliance controls; and then manages those resources on behalf of the customer. Unlike a traditional managed service, HPE GreenLake Hybrid Cloud offers an automated, cloud-native model designed to eliminate the need for organizations to hire or train new staff to oversee and manage cloud implementations.

“A portal connects all on-premises environments using native, programmable, API-driven infrastructure,” Singh explains. “And being able to drive it from the cloud makes it very easy to connect to other cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP.”

Cloud services, cloud software, and infrastructure solutions delivered as a service can help businesses implement a successful cloud experience for all their workloads – no matter where they are located. And working with a neutral and experienced third party will provide businesses with a wealth of information along with a non-biased overview of all available services, tools, and infrastructure.

To learn more about transforming your complex multi-cloud environment to a simple, cost-effective, and secure hybrid cloud, visit HPE hybrid cloud. To read IDC’s insights on the trends and challenges of delivering IT services in the new hybrid cloud world, check out, Delivering IT Services in the New Hybrid Cloud: Extending the Cloud Experience Across the Enterprise.

About the Author

Chris Purcell drives analyst relations for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Software-Defined and Cloud Group organization is responsible for marketing for HPE Synergy, HPE OneView, and HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions. To read more from Chris Purcell, please visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

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