A CIO’s Primer on the Multi-Cloud Journey

For only the second time in its history, enterprise IT is facing fundamental change as the classic data center evolves into a private and multi-cloud model.

Since the introduction of the PC in 1981, the model of enterprise computing has been essentially the same for more than 30 years. Throughout that time, enterprise organizations have traditionally managed and operated IT in their own data centers.

“But that is starting to change,” says Guido Appenzeller, VMware CTO of cloud and networking. Today, the overwhelming majority of businesses want the ability to embrace and work across multiple clouds, both public and private. This goal is “a huge structural transition that is challenging the traditional IT model,” says Appenzeller.

3 Phases for Moving to Multi-Cloud Computing

There are many cloud options available to organizations, including private cloud, large public clouds and a wide range of service provider choices, but to fully capitalize on those options to be able to work across clouds—without adding cost and complexity—requires overcoming some challenges. As enterprises make the journey from private cloud architecture to multi-cloud computing, “they are finding,” Appenzeller says, “that the process requires several phases of experimentation, learning and a retooling of their organizational skill sets and teams.”

Organizations are discovering that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “This is going to be a journey over many years,” states Appenzeller. But companies that are successfully making this journey are beginning to establish a roadmap of best practices that involves three phases:

  1. Experimenting with non-critical applications. “Do it as a ‘skunk works’ project,” Appenzeller recommends. The purpose is to focus on all of the internal processes the organization needs to make the transition successfully. “It is a controlled experiment focused on learning,” Appenzeller explains, “so that the whole organization can learn from what’s being done.”
  2. Retooling the development team to fully leverage the benefits of public cloud. Key to this phase is first developing a clear vision for how to proceed. A clear, shared vision is critical because it can help prevent the creation of cloud silos before they impede the process.
  3. Determining which clouds to use. Appenzeller recommends that organizations avoid becoming “locked-in” to a single cloud provider. He believes that organizations should have freedom and control when operating in the cloud.

3 Common Journeys to Multiple Clouds

In many respects, the cloud journey parallels the digital transformation of business. “It is a very heterogeneous situation,” says Appenzeller, “in which the right solution depends on where the organization already is in its cloud journey.” VMware’s own vision for multi-cloud computing is to provide the right solutions IT needs for each phase of their individual journeys.

“The vast majority of organizations today are only on premises,” Appenzeller explains. The primary goal of VMware is to help these organizations leverage their on-premises infrastructure for cloud migrations. VMware Cloud Foundation simplifies that process by bringing together compute, storage, networking and security into one integrated cloud infrastructure. This allows organizations to more easily and efficiently transition to the cloud.

The next largest group is comprised of companies that are already actively moving workloads from on premises to public clouds. “What these companies need,” says Appenzeller, “are tools and services that allow them to manage and secure workloads consistently across their present on-premises infrastructure and their cloud infrastructure.” Solutions from VMware Cloud Providers, including VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware on IBM Cloud, lead the way by making it easy for companies to manage their workloads using the same operational procedures that they have been using to manage their on-premises operations.

Finally, the third group is composed of organizations that are already building applications in public clouds. These early adopters are typically making use of containers and other cloud-native application technologies. For these organizations, VMware Cloud Services provide the tools that businesses need to run, manage, secure and monitor their applications in the cloud.

For all organizations making the transition from private cloud architecture to working in multiple clouds, VMware offers the partnership they can trust. “Bringing our cloud products to market is very exciting,” Appenzeller concludes. “There’s a lot we’re learning about as we help our customers tackle the cloud in a more meaningful way.”