Theme: Blue and Green Theme: Blue and Green Theme: Red Theme: Green
Background: 1 Background: 2 Background: 3 

Last Update: 26 Sep 2018
Version 8.1.1a
Prudent multi-cloud moves for business transformation returnPrudent multi-cloud moves for business transformation return

The digitally transforming, hyper-connected businesses of today run on a myriad of mission-critical applications. Further, the dynamism of these businesses and their demands for agile IT are driving adoption of multi-cloud infrastructures. 

IDC predicts that more than 70% of Asia Pacific enterprises will have a multi-cloud strategy by 2018. The rate and pace of change in IT organizations may have accelerated with one out of five respondents expected to have more than half of their applications in the cloud and four out of five adopting multi-cloud environments this year, according to F5 Networks’ State of Application Delivery 2017 report. 

While it is likely that IT organizations will still be in the driver’s seat in enterprise digital transformation initiatives, strategic decisions on technology platforms and cloud services will be shaped by business requirements and the goals of individual business units. As cloud service brokers, IT organizations will have to seek and partner with the right industry-focused cloud service providers (CSPs) to fulfill business transformation objectives and alleviate the need for shadow IT. 

Simplified environment

That means having an appropriate enterprise multi-cloud strategy and architecture with the right combination of core elements or application services – security, availability, performance, identity, mobility, automation, data analytics, etc – in place.

F5 Networks recommends three ways to manage and simplify multi-cloud deployments so enterprises can avoid application sprawl, architectural complexity and operational headaches.

Extend an existing platform that is already used extensively in the private data center into new cloud environments and use a single solution, instead of multiple solutions and proprietary services, across all environments. Existing investments in customized application policies and deployment and configuration scripts can easily be reused. For example, F5 provides solution-specific templates for platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google to reduce the complexity of deploying services for applications in the public cloud.

Adopt best-in-class application delivery and security services that can be deployed into whatever cloud needed from a vendor specialized on this space. This approach enables enterprises to handle changes in application, scalability, and security requirements easily. Look for flexible licensing options, including a bring-your-own-license model – for license portability across public and private clouds – as well as a pay-as-you-go model, to align operational costs and usage more closely.

Consolidate disparate application services already in use—and others being considered – onto a single unified platform to support applications more effectively. Application services may include load balancing, DNS services, web application firewall, identity and access federation, and DDoS mitigation.

Enterprises are beginning to use container technologies. Using portable images of workloads, they enable workloads to be moved from one computing environment to another.

For example, F5’s light software packages – Applications Services Proxy, Container Connector and Application Connector. Application Services Proxy – provide load balancing and application traffic visibility for scaling applications and associated services in cloud and container environments. They integrate capabilities from orchestration systems such as Kubernetes and Mesos to simplify delivery of application services to enterprise applications hosted in the public cloud, data center or hosted location.

Assessing returns

But ultimately, the multi-cloud strategy has to have a positive transformational impact on the business. “Most companies may have a sense of how cloud services are helping their business, but no real evidence that they are operating more efficiently, less expensively, or with greater reach than if they were using on-premises equipment,” says Lori MacVittie, principal technical evangelist at F5 Networks.

MacVittie recommends three steps that help enterprises effectively determine the return on investment of moving to the cloud.

Build metrics. Cloud services enable businesses to save on the capital costs of infrastructure hardware. But they must measure and control recurring expenses. Measuring variables such as the time it takes to provision and deploy services pre- and post-cloud, the reduction in operational expenses, and the number of users supported by the cloud services help to determine the impact of moving to the cloud.

Compare different infrastructures. Develop a system for comparing metrics that automatically measures the total expense in different types of infrastructure. Consider both capital expenditures and operational costs such as cloud services fees.

Analyze the data and discuss with stakeholders. Analyze metrics on the efficacy of the cloud service and the evolving aspects of its value to the business. Review the metrics with stakeholders to develop a plan for the next cycle in the process or fix issues that hindered improvements or negated the benefits of the cloud service.

In the multi-cloud era, the cloud service provider has become a significant partner-cum-stakeholder in enterprise IT. This is where organizations must understand the shared responsibility between the cloud service provider and the organization. “It’s just like the wave of outsourcing that happened probably about 10 years ago,” says Mohan Veloo, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific, F5 Networks. “Even in those contracts, you would define who does what or when an incident or outage happens, whose responsibility it is.” Contracts and SLAs with the CSP has to be detailed and agreed upon upfront.

This implies that much of IT departments’ time will be spent in brokering diverse cloud services and managing service provider contracts for internal customers. Yet, this will be time well spent because multi-cloud strategies are poised to deliver lower cost, higher availability and more return on business transformation than existing IT set-ups can.

source URL: