Multi-cloud architectures have long been hyped for their performance, reliability, and cost-savings—and adoption is soaring. According to a 2020 survey from IDG, 55% of organizations use two or more public clouds. Yet, 79% of these adopters struggle to achieve synergy across multiple platforms.
These concerns are echoed in the public sector. MeriTalk reports that while 81% of federal agencies say they’re using multiple cloud platforms, 75% say managing them will be one of their top challenges over the next five years. Plus, nearly half of those surveyed agree their agency isn’t adequately preparing for their multi-cloud future.
Given these challenges, a growing number of government agencies will likely rethink their multi-cloud or consolidate around a single cloud provider. But this may not be the right move.
Let’s take a closer look at why agencies might think multi-clouds are too much trouble and what’s required for such a strategy to be successful.
The Trouble With Multi-Clouds
While multi-cloud environments can help the public sector support mission-critical initiatives and meet IT consolidation goals, they are incredibly complex and must be properly implemented, managed, and monitored—a significant challenge at scale and across multiple application stacks. There’s also a lag between initial investment and deployment. It requires deep understanding of each platform and a skilled development team to succeed, and adopters may grow to realize how expensive and complicated it can get.
Ensuring an optimal end-user experience is also tricky. Troubleshooting a multi-cloud infrastructure is substantially different than on-premises or single cloud environments. Tried and true monitoring technologies may not work, and it can take time for teams to regain the level of multi-system visibility and control they had when everything was in the data center or even a single cloud. To further complicate matters, not all cloud providers offer the same services mix—especially for advanced services like monitoring, performance tuning, and optimization. Each has its own learning curve, new error modes, and specific resource requirements.
How Agencies Can Better Prepare for a Multi-Cloud Future
Multi-cloud strategies aren’t going away, so in the face of these challenges, what can agencies do to better prepare for their multi-cloud future? There is no silver bullet. But there are some important considerations to bear in mind.
First, agencies must have a well-researched case for why they believe multi-cloud will meet their
mission needs. According to Gartner, multi-cloud decisions rest on three considerations: the desire to increase agility and minimize vendor lock-in, a need to span today’s modular applications across multiple clouds or consume services from multiple clouds, and better disaster recovery.
Second, agencies pursuing a multi-cloud strategy must integrate a high-performing DevOps team. If they are to be successful in ensuring the peak performance of the entire application stack, Dev and Ops must occupy the same monitoring domain. It’s no longer enough for Dev teams to own application performance; they must be unified into the Ops monitoring team—with a collaborative team mindset from staging to production. If agencies don’t have this capability in-house, then the best route is to outsource multi-cloud engineering and monitoring to someone else.
Third, IT leaders must plan to get the complexities of monitoring multi-cloud environments under control and into an integrated view. Nobody has the time, skill, or patience to keep an eye on multiple monitoring systems. Application monitoring across multiple clouds requires truly holistic insights, from application code to the supporting infrastructure and to the end-user experience.
The Bottom Line
Pursuing a multi-cloud strategy can be fraught with challenges, particularly for enterprises as large and complex as the federal and even some state governments. But with the right approach and skillset, agencies can close the gap between investment and deployment without the cost and complexity they have come to expect.
Brandon Shopp is Vice President of Product Strategy for Security, Compliance, and Tools at SolaWinds