The Most Intuitive Way to Manage Your Multi-Cloud Environment

As multi-cloud adoption increases, it’s important organizations have a way to manage the complexities of using multiple clouds from multiple vendors and make the most of their investments. In this article, we guide you through an intuitive model to management.


The multi-cloud trend is not new. For years, various analyst firms have reported that most organizations use more than one cloud. For most organizations, multi-cloud translates to an on-premises environment plus one or more public clouds. Many organizations also work with one or more managed service providers as well, adding additional complexity.  While  the issue of what is or isn’t a cloud can get a bit tricky, especially as it relates to both the data center and third-party hosted environments, what matters is the average organization is managing multiple distinct environments, each with a unique set of attributes and operating characteristics. 


More of everything is really difficult to manage

So what do IT operators and app dev professionals alike want from their multi-cloud environments? In a recent study VMware commissioned, one of the top wish list items was having a consistent approach to managing the cloud environments in use. 

Consistency was viewed as a key vehicle for simplifying operations; enabling  organizations to maintain a balance between efficiency, agility and security. Consistency was also viewed as important to ensuring a high degree of leverage from existing skill sets.

However, the reality of achieving a consistent approach to multi-cloud operations is anything but easy. Managing just one large environment well can be challenging. Managing multiple, large, complex and unique environments that are each effectively their own silos is exponentially difficult.  

This is especially true when you consider the dynamic and highly decentralized nature of any of the hyper-scaler clouds. When organizations first begin leveraging public clouds, they often find it much more challenging than managing an on-premises data center. There is just more of everything to manage – more accounts, more users and more services. In addition, the decentralized nature of the public cloud often throws out the window the previous way to govern the use of resources in the data center.


A maturity model built from deep cloud experience

The challenge of effectively managing a multi-cloud environment starts with visibility. It’s harder to maintain visibility of what each team is doing in a multi-cloud environment that includes public clouds. – and if you can’t see across your cloud estate, you can’t optimize your overall environment. You also won’t have a lot of control over who does what, where they do it, and what they use to do it. You will quickly wind up in a situation where you’re overspending on cloud and you’ve increased both operational and security-based risks.

CloudHealth Technologies (now CloudHealth by VMware) pioneered public cloud management and is a multi-cloud capable solution that works across hyper-scaler public clouds as well as  any combination of VMware-based hybrid or private clouds.  

The CloudHealth team’s recently refreshed cloud management maturity model provides the kind of guidance organizations need to move from flying blind in the cloud to maximizing their investments across any combination of clouds.

This maturity model was developed by leveraging years of learnings gained from helping hundreds of customers manage their cloud environments more efficiently and cost-effectively. These organizations have accomplished this without having to sacrifice the agility that made cloud computing attractive to them in the first place.

The graphic above summarizes the maturity model the CloudHealth team developed. It provides a four-step approach to achieving maturity across three operational dimensions: financial management, cloud operations, and security and compliance (SecOps). 


Understanding the model

The first step of the model is focused on achieving visibility across these three operational domains. Visibility means different things depending on the domain. For instance, in the area of financial management, the objective of achieving visibility is to help drive financial accountability of cloud users. In this domain, visibility means you can accurately report on what each team is doing and allocate costs back to consuming entities. For SecOps, visibility translates into capabilities to report threats emanating from misconfigured resources in real time.

Step two in the model is about optimization. Once you have achieved broad visibility, you are in a position to identify the highest-value optimization opportunities. Most of the opportunities you act on during this phase will be executed through manual processes. That’s not a bad thing. You’re learning what really makes a difference to the performance of your cloud environment during this phase.

As you mature, you’ll begin to define standards and automate core processes. In this third step, you’re taking the visibility you achieved in step one, combining it with the optimization opportunities you took advantage of in step two, and are now bringing it all together with governance and automation.  The result is you make optimization a routine part of your daily operations. 

Finally, in step four, you integrate this automatic and well-governed optimization process into your business systems and metrics to ensure  these improvements become a key part of how you run your business.


A truly beautiful model

The beauty of the model is that it is such a logical and natural progression. It reflects the best of the paths hundreds of CloudHealth customers have taken in their cloud journey.

I’ve captured a bit of the flavor of the model here in this blog, but to understand the steps better, you should download the white paper.  Each step is illustrated as a set of best practices, which aren’t theoretical.  They were captured by working with hundreds of organizations, large and small, across every industry. In the white paper, you’ll discover how to establish a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCOE), which involves bringing together a cross-functional working group to govern cloud usage across an organization and drive best practices.

If you follow the practices outlined in the white paper, you’ll improve the effectiveness of your operations across the three domains in a way that enhances agility and helps you make the most of your cloud investments. 


Other resources

A great way to learn more is to attend CloudLive Virtual on May 20th.   Hosted by the CloudHealth by VMware team, CloudLIVE is an industry-leading multi-cloud conference dedicated to transforming and scaling businesses in the cloud.

Listen to Rachel Dines and Ennio Carboni discuss multi-cloud management with me and Eric Nielsen on a recent episode of our  podcast. Rachel heads up product marketing for CloudHealth, while Ennio leads product management. We spend a good chunk of time on the podcast talking about the maturity model.

Visit the CloudHealth by VMware website for more information on the CloudHealth solution.

Looking to better understand VMware’s unique approach to multi-cloud architecture? Get the definitive guide here.


About the Authors

David Jasso

Director of Cloud Marketing at VMware

David Jasso is a Director of Cloud Marketing at VMware focused on Multi-Cloud operations. David joined VMware in 2011 and was a key member of the team that introduced VMware vRealize Operations to the market. He has also lead product marketing for VMware's vRealize Suite with a focus on automation and business management technologies. Prior to joining VMware, David held roles in Product Management, Industry Marketing and Product Marketing for a major Enterprise Management vendor. During his career David has also held roles in engineering program management, data warehousing project management and has been a manager of corporate finance and IT teams.

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