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5 things to look for in a partner that can help ease the pain of managing a multi-cloud environment

David Fowler, vice president of marketing, INetU, a ViaWest company | April 25, 2016
In the early days of cloud computing you could pick a provider by the development environment or application you were implementing and didn’t have to worry much about integration with other systems. But as the number of cloud resources grows, so does the need to simplify management and integration across different implementations, often times across different clouds.

* Security strategy not security solutions.  Security is never a “one and done” process. No matter how secure you believe you are there is always someone out there that wants to prove you are not. Security today requires constant monitoring to detect problems as early as possible to limit any damage. Building security solutions on a cloud by cloud basis is not only difficult to monitor, but creates security holes whenever the systems are sharing information. If you are not equipped or interested in building a comprehensive security solution and monitoring it, look for a partner who will.

* Down or down and out. Cloud has made it cheaper and easier to set up disaster recovery operations, but despite being cheaper it’s not free, so you need to know what you need to have recovered quickly and what can wait. The challenge in a multi-cloud environment is the data and applications you need to get back up and running may be scattered across multiple environments.  Coordinating not only what gets brought back up in the recovery process, but the order things get restarted can be critical to getting live again. Considering where you put your recovered systems and how it will talk to the other clouds will be an important part of the planning that is far more complex in a multi-cloud world.

* Cost controls. Cloud billing can be confusing and often requires heroic efforts by a spreadsheet jockey to decipher. Because it operates on a consumption basis and in general we are not very good at paying attention to usage when we are in the middle of a project, it often results in some nasty surprises at the end of the month.  In a multi-cloud world the complexity gets multiplied as every cloud has its own pricing model. However, using tools that are common across most clouds -- like setting monthly spend caps, setting up accounts by budget area/project, and pre-buying a quantity of services -- will help. It may still take a spreadsheet pro and cloud expert to wade through the monthly reports.

For many of us, multiple and hybrid clouds are a fact of life. While we can’t avoid some of the complexities of living in a multi-cloud world, keeping these five areas in mind as we are planning and implementing our cloud strategies and selecting a partner to help with them should make the process a bit more manageable.


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