2021 is set to be the “year of multi-cloud,” as more than 90% of enterprises worldwide are projected to rely on a mix of on-prem/dedicated private clouds, multiple public clouds, and legacy platforms by 2022. However, this race to adoption is leaving many organizations unprepared for the important task of implementing a multi-cloud strategy.
Public cloud providers aren’t providing the resources and intelligence needed because it’s not in their best interest to encourage the use of multiple clouds. Without any guidance, many organizations are wasting precious time, money and resources on unsuccessful deployments, and lack the proper insight into why they’re failing.
Let’s explore three fatal mistakes organizations are making during the transition to multi-cloud and best practices on how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not planning migration with a clear view of the entire IT estate including infrastructure and applications
Multi-cloud adoption has emerged as a driving force for many enterprises and service providers as they aim to migrate and modernize applications to leverage the scale, flexibility and services from multiple cloud providers. As organizations look to update more complex applications and legacy architecture, creating an accurate migration roadmap and strategy can prove difficult.
One of the biggest challenges to successful planning and migration is determining which applications should move, in what order, their ideal placement in each cloud environment and the cost of migrating and managing them once in the cloud. Planning those elements successfully is often deterred by:
- Application complexity, especially around legacy technologies
- Lack of knowledge internally and externally of application dependencies
- Overlooked costs and inaccurate TCO analysis
- Multiple toolsets with disparate data sources that lack the detail to provide actionable information
- Security and compliance issues from shadow IT sources and dependencies
- Technical debt from lift and shift or inaccurate application refactoring
Training staff to understand the nuances of multiple cloud providers can be especially challenging. Overall, it’s the whole IT staff’s responsibility to protect an enterprise and its data. Achieving this requires time and investment including formulating a security plan, educating personnel and establishing processes and infrastructure to foster security within the organization. When moving to the cloud, staff responsibilities should adapt and shift in conjunction with these new environments to ensure security is still being covered on all bases. While data governance is usually handled by database administrators, these tasks should still be recorded with step-by-step checklists. In addition, businesses should consider cross-training additional staff as soon as it becomes appropriate to further ensure data security.
A successful multi-cloud migration strategy begins with a clear vision and path to the cloud. A key step in any migration plan begins with a current state analysis of the entire IT estate displaying the infrastructure, applications and how those workloads are connected. Enterprises can avoid migrating prematurely by leveraging a multicloud Cloud Governance Platform that can provide a comprehensive end-to-end view of the application landscape.
Mistake #2: Providing self-service access to the cloud without identity and access guardrails in place
Today’s shared security model lays a significant fiduciary responsibility on users of the public cloud. Gartner has predicted predicts by 2025, 90% of the organizations that fail to control public cloud use will inappropriately share sensitive data. While power users at cloud-centric companies require self-service access to the cloud in order to remain agile, providing that access can magnify risk. Businesses without security guardrails in place are putting themselves at risk of misconfigurations that can cause devastating security and compliance consequences.
Identity and access governance is an often-overlooked area of public cloud controls. Challenges such as access sprawl and inconsistent policy frameworks across on-premises and cloud environments make enforcing a least-privilege security model exceedingly difficult in the cloud. Businesses can reduce these risks by employing identity and access management guardrails that track which users have access to the most critical assets in the cloud as well as visualize access paths to gain insights into users and attached policies and permissions.
Mistake #3: Managing individual configurations instead of prioritizing overall risk management
As businesses increasingly migrate operations to multiple public cloud providers, they face an ever-evolving risk: complexity. Lack of insight or understanding into the differences between clouds can be a surefire way to make a configuration error. Cloud misconfigurations are among the first things a hacker checks for when breaching a network, and any gap in security such as failing to remove an old account can open the door for a cybercriminal. Common misconfigurations include:
- Absence of access restrictions such as an unsecured or passwordless AWS S3 storage bucket
- Lack of data protection, such as unencrypted personal information (social security numbers, PCI, PCI)
- Over entitlement of user access rather than restricting users to only access the applications and data they are permitted to use
The likelihood of these errors is multiplied in a multi-cloud strategy. These complex environments give hackers a larger attack surface, particularly across multiple public clouds. The more services running in the cloud, the higher the chance of misconfiguration or data exposure. To combat this, centralized visibility and management are key to ensuring protection and compliance across multiple environments concurrently.
Robust governance requires a full view of the enterprise’s cloud network, depicting what the business is consuming, how new services are being accessed, and what systems are established for risk mitigation, along with data and privacy policies and processes. Risk management must move from a cyclically executed process to a continuous process containing a number of coordinated actions and tasks that are meant to oversee and manage risks. Within the cloud ecosystem, risk management encompasses more than traditional IT. An ecosystem-wide framework is necessary for proper risk management.
Enterprises should thereby focus on increased training and awareness throughout their company, instructing how to securely use multiple cloud services. Security must be embedded within company culture in order for governance to be effective.
The key to a successful migration
While its popularity continues to rise among organizations everywhere, multi-cloud is still evolving. Despite its complexities, multicloud has emerged as the way of the future. In fact, Gartner has also predicted that multi-cloud strategies will reduce vendor dependency for two-thirds of organizations through 2024. The appeal is no secret: Multi-cloud can provide a number of benefits including avoiding vendor lock-in, optimizing cost performance, and increasing reliability by distributing resources in the event of an IT disaster. These advantages have many organizations racing to adopt multi-cloud as the solution to their infrastructure needs.
However, an unsuccessful transition can cost businesses significant time, resources, and money. Moving to multi-cloud requires deep planning and knowledge of each ecosystem to ensure a smooth transition. It also requires a comprehensive governance and security plan to ensure customer information remains secure and out of the hands of threat actors. Without planning ahead and educating staff on the complexities of multiple clouds, any multi-cloud initiative can be ruined before it’s even off the ground. By avoiding these three mistakes, businesses can ensure a successful transition to multi-cloud and reap its benefits.