Are clouds the new juggling act?

We can all picture the spectacle. Businesses start off with just one cloud. But then, before their very eyes, additional functions and capabilities are needed; another cloud is flung into the mix; and IT professionals are forced to juggle multiple clouds at once. With their hands full, are they able to proactively manage their IT environment or are they only reacting to what is thrown at them? How long will it take before something is dropped in the act?

In our current market research across a sample of over 100 enterprises using cloud, we found that 81 percent are running more than one cloud – with almost half (49 percent) using three or more. This IT juggling act is more common and complex than you might think.

IBM-why companies run multiple cloudsWhen asked why their businesses are running on multiple clouds, 45 percent of respondents said they wanted to use best-in-class offerings from different providers.

This answer was followed closely by the need to:

– Prevent vendor lock-in

– Obtain the best pricing for each cloud service

– Access innovative new cloud services from different or new providers

Across the entire group, 81 percent noted that they faced some sort of cloud challenge. Many of their top challenges relate to data integration, security and compliance. One-third of the companies anticipate the number of cloud providers they use to increase, further compounding the integration and management challenge.

And it’s not just about integration across clouds – it’s about integration across the whole IT environment. As more and more businesses are adopting a model that blends traditional IT and multiple cloud services, obtaining an integrated view across these multiple environments is a top challenge for IT leaders. How can they get the most out of all their systems – getting them to work in concert? How are companies going to successfully navigate the increasingly complex digital landscape?

Some will continue to manage their clouds internally, but we found that 78 percent of surveyed cloud adopters that are facing challenges are looking for external help, such as a Cloud Service Integrator (CSI) – a third party that advises and integrates cloud applications.

A cloud service integrator is positioned to alleviate the difficulties clients have with the cloud life cycle. Ultimately, companies want to know how much they are spending on cloud services and their level of use. Oftentimes, companies do not have the insight and access to this data because cloud providers are not straightforward with the cloud usage and costs. On top of that, companies struggle with comparing the different cloud services and their use and purpose. A CSI can be a one-stop solution for identifying usage and comparing costs across multiple cloud providers.

Here are some other ways a CSI may be able to help:

  • Manage performance, billing and operations across multiple cloud providers
  • Find and implement an appropriate solution to meet a particular need. A CSI can analyze the capabilities and configurations of a range of offerings, select the appropriate services, combine them together and deploy the new capability.
  • Optimize costs and capabilities by reviewing current services, identifying the total service cost and analyzing alternative options within the given budget.
  • Dynamically increase capacity as needed, by monitoring levels of demand and enabling addition of new services, capacity and capabilities to existing services.

Users leverage cloud service integrators to make decisions about how and where to run applications and tasks based upon given workload profile, budget, policies and SLA requirements.

Ultimately, a good juggler can handle lots of the same object, but a great juggler can handle anything (with enough training) from bowling pins and chainsaws to knives and burning torches. In a similar vein, if you are running a hybrid environment – and 46 percent of cloud-using companies are these days – you understand the integration challenges that cloud can bring.

So, what kind of cloud juggling act are you preparing for?  What is your strategy for addressing it? Do you expect the environment complexity to diminish any time soon? Could a CSI be part of your plan?

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