Businesses demand that clouds connect. Technology is evolving to fill gaps

Managing an increasingly complex cloud environment requires visibility on the technology stack.

When a company manages a hybrid cloud and plans to integrate a new cloud provider, it can complicate an already convoluted technology environment.

The growing tangle of cloud environments is a real problem for businesses, especially in a remote world. Suppliers acting as connective fabric between cloud environments sell on simplicity and ease of use. But companies will need to look at cloud strategy internally to decide what works best for them.

According to Flexera’s State of the Cloud 2021 report, 92% of companies have a multicloud strategy and 80% have a hybrid strategy. Managing these environments can be bumpy and less than half (42%) companies use mutlicloud management tools.

While some companies are addressing cloud migration, vendors have been forced to meet with customers where they are “rather than being too ambitious about their destination,” said Drew Firment, senior vice president of cloud transformation at A Cloud Guru.

VMware and other software management companies enable businesses to establish themselves in the cloud and reduce some of the burden of managing a complex cloud environment. It’s a great strategy to move from on-site to cloud, and then once the organization is there, they can start thinking about deepening the architectures of specific vendors, Firment said.

“You won’t really get the sheer value of cloud computing when you’re still on site and you have a layer of abstraction, but that’s a start,” Firment said. Platforms can help manage cost optimization, compliance, controls and other aspects of cloud management.

Suppliers offer multicloud offers

As the company moves towards multicloud, providers are deploying services to support integrations.

Cloud service providers have an advantage over their competitors by offering services and integrations that they can provide alongside on-site environments, according to Brian Adler, Flexera’s senior director of cloud market strategy, in an email to CIO Dive.

All services can be based on the same software stack designed to integrate with existing environments, but vendors can offer price, packaging, management responsibility and regional availability differentiators.

“The new reality is that [suppliers] must be able and willing to play in this hybrid world,” Adler said. “We find that the companies that best manage hybrids and multiclouds are those that have full visibility on their on-site, cloud and SaaS it fleets.”

According to Adler, being the best at a specific thing in a specific location is no longer an option in the current field. Cloud providers understand that businesses are unlikely to be satisfied with a single provider. Suppliers must accompany customers on the journey of their choice.

Google, for example, recognizes that it would be great if every company wanted only its cloud solution, but “for some time now, we’ve been adopting what we call hybrid cloud,” Lori Mitchell-Keller, the global industry solutions leader at Google Cloud, told CIO Dive in February.

Customers will use multiple cloud providers, so Google Cloud sells beyond the infrastructure it provides. The company promotes “all the power of Google” as a business solution, not just as an infrastructure relationship with IT, Mitchell-Keller said.

Integration, a must

More and more providers understand the value of interoperability while trying to maintain a competitive advantage by meeting customer needs.

“Often, this competitive advantage is based on the fact that the vendor strives to provide a known quantity in a new environment, and thus avoids customer churn when these customers expand their IT fleet into the public cloud,” said Adler.

For businesses, navigating new technologies and offerings to manage the hybrid cloud environment means taking a close look at the company’s needs and strategy before deciding what to buy.

“You need to master a cloud and understand how to operate in this new world, and then you can make informed decisions about how to align cloud providers with the strengths of the form and function of your application,” Firment said.

As a customer, the company needs to be aware of the offer to make the best cloud decisions for itself. “There are a lot of different interests out there, so you really need to take the time to find out about it in order to make the right decisions,” Firment said.

Businesses are responsible for knowing what environments each provider supports and how it aligns with their future cloud plans, according to Adler.

“It’s important to find a tool or provider that supports the environments you work in or plan to use,” Adler said. “But understanding the functional shortcomings of this support is just as critical.”

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