How to build a multi-cloud strategy for your business

With SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions proliferating into every business function, right from project management, sales management to data storage and web hosting, it is time you frame a multi-cloud strategy for your business

By Saikiran Chandha

Saikiran Chandha, Co-Founder & CEO of Typeset

In modern-day business, you have to be online 24x7x365 and across geographies. Think live chat support, order processing, or server hosting. Even if one of those systems goes offline for a few hours, it could cause operational difficulties or disruptions.
Businesses worldwide have been migrating to the cloud to meet these growing demands since cloud-based SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions are more collaborative, accessible, and less prone to outages. The Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent shift to remote working has only accelerated this further. A recent Gartner survey revealed that up to 81 per cent of companies are using two or more cloud providers.

With SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions proliferating into every business function, right from project management, sales management to data storage and web hosting, it is time you frame a multi-cloud strategy for your business. It ensures that you acquire the right services for your business, get the most out of them, and do not reduce the efficiency of your employees or invest in unnecessary solutions.

Steps involved in building a multi-cloud strategy
The multi-cloud refers to the usage of several cloud-based service providers to perform core and supplementary business processes. It is different from the hybrid cloud model, where companies use a mix of on-premise, private cloud, and public cloud services to perform and manage their computing workload.
A multi-cloud strategy enables your business to acquire SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions that suit your custom needs and demands. Now, let’s explore the steps involved in building an effective multi-cloud strategy for your business.

1. Review your tech stack and your business needs:
Like every good plan, you need to start by reviewing your existing situation. Break down different functions into processes and tasks. Analyse the areas of your business where cloud-based services have already been deployed and evaluate the effectiveness of the current tech stack. Score them on factors such as ROI, speed, ease-of-use, interoperability and integration, automation features, SLAs, security and compliance features, and lock-in period.
Then, identify the tasks and processes where cloud solutions are not in use presently but could be streamlined or made more effective with them. Compile the information collected to find gaps in your existing strategy, understand what needs changing, and figure out your network, security, and compliance needs and requirements.

2. Set clear objectives for your cloud strategy:
Building an effective multi-cloud strategy is not about acquiring every top-rated cloud service out there. A SaaS application that worked for another organization may not necessarily work for yours. Each industry, business, and target audience is different. Just look at how data management practices, compliance requirements, attack vectors, or workflows vary from company to company. That’s why your multi-cloud strategy should be geared toward meeting your organization’s unique needs, demands, priorities, and vision.

The objective of your multi-cloud strategy could be anything, from specific ones like GDPR compliance, code-free deployment to broader ones such as enhancing data protection, reducing the overall cost, improving automation across the board, and better data security. Ultimately, having clear objectives helps the decision-makers understand the overall picture and what needs to be prioritized.

3. Frame guidelines for the vendor selection process:
It is imperative to have consistency in your vendor selection process. Create an evaluation methodology for all the different IT needs that may arise in your company. Be sure to list out and categorise features into heads such as must-have, inessential, and optional.

This categorisation can help answer questions such as: whether to go with standalone applications or bundles and suites, which integrations are a must, how many licenses need to be acquired, if any add-on services should be purchased, among others.

Having a well-defined selection process ensures that you choose solutions that offer a great degree of interoperability, integration support, automation options and match the security demands of your business. Moreover, it reduces the chances of cloud sprawl, compatibility issues, unforeseen errors, budget overshoots, and data management and compliance issues.

4. Create a budgeting policy:
A recent study revealed that worldwide cloud spending is expected to reach US$ 1.3 trillion by 2025. With this spending only going to increase in the post-pandemic world, it is crucial that businesses budget for the same carefully. It is easy to get carried away and spend more than what is required.
This is why you should have a budgeting policy with instructions on everything from the number of licenses or seats that can be acquired, subscription fee limits, identifying idle instances, billing preferences, and expense monitoring mechanisms.

5. Prepare your organisation:
Before you implement the multi-cloud strategy, you must prepare your staff for its implementation. Train the employees and make sure they understand the nuances of cloud solutions and how they are different from on-premise applications. Get them up to speed, particularly regarding security, data management, and disaster recovery practices.
This is a critical step for multiple reasons. For starters, the emergence of compliance regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA means you need to take customer data processing and data management more seriously. Secondly, cyberattacks are on the up. There was a 125 per cent increase in incident volume in 2020-21. If you don’t have defense mechanisms in place, it could leave you vulnerable to data loss and cyberattacks, leading to unexpected business disruptions.
Whether your team is working remotely or from the office, make sure the members have everything they need to access and use the solutions securely. This covers everything from secure workstations, encrypted network connections to network monitoring and patch management. Apart from that, you need to set up a dedicated cloud team to take care of and monitor all the cloud-based solutions and their usage.

Final thoughts
Having a multi-cloud strategy is no longer an option; it is a must. Even if you overlook the productivity gain and operational efficiency it could bring to your business, it is still critical, simply from a data management, compliance, and cyber threat perspective.

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