Ignore multi-cloud today and risk becoming irrelevant in five years, report warns

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Multi-cloud initiatives continue to be of great importance to European organisations – and those who aren’t heeding the warning signs today will feel the pinch in five years’ time.

That’s according to a new study from research firm Foresight Factory, alongside application network technology provider F5 Networks. The study, titled ‘The Future of Multi-Cloud’, drew on contributions from Deloitte, CloudSpectator, Ovum and more, having been based on a discussion guide combining publicly available research and Foresight’s proprietary bank of more than 100 trends.

In short – delaying multi-cloud adoption will mean your organisation will become increasingly irrelevant. Yet many organisations will surely be aware of this. Take the study from Virtustream in July, which found the vast majority of organisations (86%) confirming their cloud strategy was a multi-cloud one. Or take how many of the leading cloud vendors are pushing their acquisition and product strategies towards the trend; Cisco acquiring Duo Security, Nutanix buying Netsil, Juniper Networks offering new data centre, campus and branch network offerings.

Everyone is at it. One of the primary drivers for multi-cloud, as the report notes, is fear surrounding vendor lock-in. But the report makes an interesting point: there is a sense of constant change underpinning these initiatives, with the hyperscale vendors more than willing to outspend rivals to keep their market share.

Take machine learning as an example. According to the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report, machine learning is the most popular public cloud service with regards to future interest. AWS, Microsoft and Google are all taking big strides in this area, from Google’s pre-packaged AI services, to the various AWS clients citing the technology as key to their success – Major League Baseball, Formula 1, and more. From Microsoft’s perspective, the report notes that its ML focus has led it to invest in new server technologies, with workloads on the edge also contributing.

Yet there are various issues which still need to be overcome. The report cites the well-known skills gap organisations are facing. With multiple cloud services, containers, APIs and more, visibility and management is vital. Plenty of companies have sprung up to help organisations with this – CloudCheckr, CloudHealth Technologies and so on – but ultimately it’s all about service delivery. Consumers may not be interested in the technical intricacies of the multiverse, but they will care if their service becomes inflexible or goes down.

So what can companies do? Their technological landscape is continually changing, driven from the top by initiatives from the largest cloud vendors, and they have more plates spinning than ever. There are a couple of things which can be done, according to the report. Firstly, organisations should focus more on security. Consumers will eventually only be interested in those who have the most watertight systems built in. What’s more, there needs to be an increased focus on nurturing young IT talent – or ‘tapping into the kaleidoscopic potential of youth and promoting industry diversity’, as the report puts it.

In other words, organisations need multi-cloud. With developments in edge computing and artificial intelligence starting to take place driving greater insights and quicker decision making, they need to get on that train as soon as possible. But the skills gap won’t be overcome overnight.

“The multi-cloud ramp-up is one of the ultimate wake-up calls in internal IT to get their act together,” said Eric Marks, VP of cloud consulting at CloudSpectator. “One of the biggest transformative changes is the realisation of what a high performing IT organisation is and how it compares to what they have. Most are finding their IT organisations are sadly underperforming.”


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