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3 steps to prepare IT operations for multi-cloud

Organizations must ready their IT operations for multi-cloud and the unique security challenges ahead. Equip your IT ops team with the right people and processes to adapt smoothly.

There are many challenges to successful IT operations. One of those challenges -- minimizing the amount of downtime experienced in the event of problems -- is worsened in a hybrid, multi-cloud environment.

Technology alone will not ease management and security burdens. Companies must adapt processes and staffing to embrace cloud complexity and prepare IT operations for multi-cloud deployments. Here are three steps to help organizations on their journey.

1. Design a formal workload placement process

A multi-cloud organization requires a process for deciding which workloads should be placed in a given cloud environment. IT should implement and follow a formal workload placement process (WPP) to place each new or refreshed IT workload properly. Organizations that implement a WPP are 42% more successful in their cloud operations. Some organizations may opt for a complete DIY implementation in a private cloud in the data center through various forms of hosting. Others may implement multiple IaaS, PaaS and SaaS options. But every WPP must include at least some assessment of risk -- both informational and operational -- as well as cost, workload affinities and architectural suitability, in addition to the ways these factors interrelate.

IT should create a usable tool embodying its WPP. This tool may manifest as a balanced scorecard spreadsheet, a view on a configuration management database or a decision tree application. Organizations should choose the tool that best fits in their environment. The tools should also enable IT and stakeholders -- who must answer questions driving the placement -- to be consistent and efficient decision-makers.

2. Make onboarding cloud-aware

Organizations that follow a formal cloud workload onboarding process are 35% more successful in their cloud operations.

A multi-cloud organization needs a formalized onboarding process that is cloud-aware. Organizations that follow a formal cloud workload onboarding process are 35% more successful in their cloud operations. Onboarding a new workload for cloud must include mapping out the other systems it relies on, both in the same cloud and in any other cloud, as well as knowing what systems will rely, in turn, on it. Understanding this enables proper design of network and security environments and integration into data and process flows. Cloud workload onboarding also requires familiarity with stakeholders -- how they will reach and use the technology -- and what performance targets are expected. It is critical to contextualize in order to properly handle ongoing operations and resolve problems.

3. IT operations for multi-cloud requires the right skills

Organizations must be equipped with the proper cloud professionals in order to prepare their IT operations for multi-cloud. Securing the right staff in the right positions is critical, particularly in the following roles:

  1. Cloud solution architects are staff dedicated to the design of cloud-based services. They work within the framework of the cloud strategy and the overall cloud architecture to source the best options for specific use cases. They draw from a catalog of preapproved services and providers. Cloud architects also work with users and developers to bring new services and providers into the portfolio. Organizations with cloud solution architects are 45% more successful in their cloud operations.
  2. Cloud integration specialists are staff that ensure tools integrate properly into data flows and with other tools and automated workflows as needed. They may be considered a more focused version of a cloud solution architect. Organizations with cloud integration specialists are 50% more successful in their cloud operations.
  3. Cloud security specialists are staff focused on mitigating the risks associated with workloads and data living in the cloud. Organizations with cloud security staff see a negligible positive effect on cloud operations but are 41% more successful in cybersecurity. For the greatest improvements, it is critical that some or all cloud security specialists not wear multiple security hats and that their sole function is cloud security.

More than half of the average enterprise's workloads now run in external cloud environments. If IT operations for multi-cloud is to succeed, IT leaders must adapt processes and staffing accordingly.

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