November 21, 2022

Article
3 min

Getting Started with Multicloud Governance

Organizations must pay close attention to the value and risks of their multicloud environments, cost optimization strategies and change management practices.

Derek Hay

If you look at virtually any recent cloud survey, the vast majority of respondents say they’ve embraced a multicloud strategy. 

In reality, this often means that an organization is working with a number of Software as a Service vendors — perhaps hosting a few modern application workloads with Infrastructure as a Service in a hyperscaler — while maintaining on-premises infrastructure that may or may not have the characteristics of a true private cloud. 

Many organizations are still in the early stages of building a mutlicloud environment, making this a great time to embrace governance practices that will keep these environments effective and efficient over the long term. In particular, it’s important for organizations to pay attention to value and risk, cloud economics (sometimes referred to as “FinOps”) and organizational change management.

Value and Risk

The importance of wrapping governance practices around value and risk should be obvious. When we talk about value, what we really mean is: Why are we doing this, and what are the desired business outcomes that multicloud will enable? When we talk about risk, what we mean is: Can we meet or exceed our key stakeholders’ expectations for security, resilience, privacy and compliance? 

Business and IT leaders should map out a very clear business case for their multicloud environments and then closely monitor their key performance and risk indicators (KPIs and KRIs) to help track whether their multicloud strategy yields the benefits they expect. Organizations should not necessarily create new KPIs and KRIs, but rather leverage those that are probably already in place and most essential to the organization’s success. These could be overall IT spending, system availability, time to market for new technology-related business capabilities, security incidents, and metrics around security vulnerabilities, to name a few. By applying governance to the value and risk of multicloud, organizations can ensure their environments truly support their desired business outcomes rather than follow the crowd.

Cloud Economics

Many organizations cite cost optimization as a chief driver of their multicloud strategies. They look at their overprovisioned on-premises environments and reason that they can reduce the total cost of ownership by paying for only what they use. They also realize savings by significantly reducing the management burden that comes with physical infrastructure. Then, after pushing some or all of their resources out to one public cloud environment, they discover that different vendors offer different pricing for different types of workloads, and they embrace multicloud. 

Why, then, are so many organizations plagued by sprawling cloud costs? Simple: They lack meaningful governance practices to help effectively monitor and manage cloud services spending. It’s important for organizations to embrace a FinOps strategy (FinOps is a term that combines “finance” and “DevOps”) to encourage communication, education and collaboration between business and engineering teams. Central management and oversight of cloud spending leads to shared best practices around optimizing resource sizing, utilization patterns and cloud service selection. A strong cloud economics governance model keeps everyone on the same page, leverages shared best practices and ensures that every dollar spent on a multicloud environment ultimately supports the business.

Change Management

A move to the cloud represents more than a change in technology. It may also mean a significant shift in organizational culture. Getting stakeholders to embrace new ways of doing things and helping them understand the benefits to the organization and their role in the journey are of utmost importance. So is finding talent that can architect, optimize and manage a multicloud environment

With top cloud talent in short supply, this often means developing the skills of internal employees or turning to a trusted third-party partner to help with resource skill and scale. Organizational change management isn’t a one-time thing. Business and IT leaders must continue engaging stakeholders as mutlicloud environments evolve, identify internal champions and genuinely listen to feedback. 

Sometimes, this feedback will be specific and actionable. Other times, it will be rooted in fear of change. When that’s the case, the answer needs to be: “We’ll course-correct, but we can’t stop. We have to keep going on this journey together to support the business outcomes.” 

Organizational change management should not be dismissed or undervalued. It must be purposeful, structured and layered in throughout the organization to align IT and business stakeholders toward the common business goals. When done right, it really is the secret sauce and a force multiplier to any large-scale transformation program like multicloud adoption.

Story by Derek Hay, an executive technology strategist serving CDW customers in the central United States. Derek came to CDW in late 2021 after spending more than 25 years as a technology leader in financial services organizations. Most recently, he served as senior vice president and director of infrastructure and technology operations for a large regional bank. His responsibilities and career experiences have spanned every aspect of a technology organization, from infrastructure and service management to applications and security.