Chris Wolf, VMware’s chief technology officer for global field and industry, regularly consults with companies adopting cloud technologies.
Chris Wolf, VMware’s chief technology officer for global field and industry, regularly consults with companies adopting cloud technologies. “They ask me,” he says, “‘How do I evolve a pragmatic cloud strategy? I can’t flip a switch.’” And while there is no button to push to move to the cloud, Wolf recommends that companies get started preparing immediately by focusing on a few key considerations.
Will workloads need to move?
One telling question companies can ask themselves is whether workloads will need to move.
“Executives should think comprehensively through their hybrid cloud strategy,” Wolf says. “It can be quick and easy to sign up for a cloud service, but if you’re not careful, you could wind up binding the company to a very specific and proprietary set of APIs that keeps it on that cloud. It’s not that you can’t switch, but sometimes the exit costs may outweigh the benefits.”
Wolf notes that if an organization is unclear about future needs, it is best to assume workloads won’t move and plan accordingly. Although workloads can move from platform to platform, it normally requires an investment in resources that companies don’t want to spend twice.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing to keep workloads on a single cloud—AWS Mobile Hub is a great way to build and scale mobile applications—but make sure you do it strategically, not unintentionally.”
Centralize, but not everywhere
Wolf counsels businesses to avoid trying to centralize all things cloud management and operations. He notes that wholesale centralization normally means high-cost customization, expensive maintenance fees, and a system that dates quickly.
“There are lots of vendors out there that are going to be pushing you to have a single pane of glass for all things cloud management—don’t buy it. We have never had a single pane of glass in the history of enterprise IT,” cautions Wolf. “In the public cloud, cloud providers are shipping new features weekly, or sometimes daily. No one can keep up with all this dynamic innovation across multiple clouds, vendors, and tools and keep it centralized for everything. Centralize where there is clear business or operational value, such as security policy enforcement, and decentralize where that value is not well-defined.”
Invest in On-Prem and Software-Defined
Finally, Wolf encourages companies to get started training staff on cloud technologies and preparing existing infrastructure.
“The answer for these organizations is to invest in their existing technologies by building an SDN layer in their own data centers, and getting their teams up to speed on how to operationalize the next generation of networking and security, even if it’s a small use case, so that as the company moves deeper into the cloud, it will have the operational maturity to navigate safely in a cross-cloud world.”