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Say the word “multicloud” to CIOs or other tech leaders, and you’re almost guaranteed to get an eyeroll. The prospect of simultaneously maintaining on-premises data centers, migrating to one public cloud, and then redundantly staffing for two or more additional clouds on top of that is a recipe for frustration and disappointment.
There are good reasons to want multicloud — avoiding vendor lock-in, access to best-of-breed cloud services, and the flexibility to integrate with business partners (among others). But despite these potential benefits, most businesses will not achieve a viable multicloud strategy anytime soon, for the simple reason that it’s just too costly and complex for most businesses.
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Supercloud is what comes after public cloud: It’s a cloud-spanning value-add layer that hides complexity, exposes differentiated service capabilities, and adds new business (and business network) leverage beyond the raw “Lego bricks” of existing public and private clouds.
Supercloud represents the natural democratization of the current “wall of complexity” facing both developers and businesses. As a technical or business leader, how can you make the most of the rise of this new supercloud category of vendors? What best practices can be followed today, when supercloud is still an emerging concept?
Here are some basic guidelines for thinking about cloud investments during the era where both cloud-specific infrastructure and supercloud vendors will coexist as critical elements of an IT portfolio.
Select supercloud vendors who already “get it”
The simplest and most highly leveraged way to incorporate change is to select a vendor who can successfully encapsulate it. Unlike hiring an SI for public cloud migration, this strategy aligns well with supercloud’s emergence because multicloud is best delivered as a product feature. Moreover, the SaaS delivery and packaging approach of supercloud means that the majority of improvements made by vendors will transparently flow through to their users without the expensive and challenging upgrades of the past. In other words, as supercloud enabled products get better, so do the businesses that use them.
Avoid “accidental multicloud”
Multicloud strategies and investments are among the most costly and complex in a CIO’s portfolio. Leaving them to chance (or differing internal opinion) is perilous, as it can result in costly migrations down the road. Foundational elements, like how analytic and operational data are handled, should be viewed through multiple lenses, including how to avoid redundant spending and staffing. Early and intentional supercloud vendor selection can focus those decision processes, reducing complexity and spending over time.
Design and invest for network effects, not for individual applications
One of the most important emerging best practices is to shift focus from the micro (each application owned or operated by IT) to the macro (the value of automating and digitizing business networks and their associated workflows). This new era of inherently distributed and decentralized applications demands even more from the “IT plumbing” on which it runs. It also means that decisions about multicloud and cross-vendor technology capabilities have become a mission-critical, CIO-level decision.
Supercloud may be another tidal wave for technology managers to surf, but it’s one that’s coming our way. Businesses that ride it successfully will lower their cloud costs, improve time to market, and reap competitive advantages in this next wave of cloud adoption.
Tim Wagner is cofounder and CEO of Vendia