The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how businesses work in more ways than one.

Faced with unprecedented operational challenges, many companies were forced to expedite the migration of business processes to the cloud. Recent studies suggest that as many as 93% of organizations have a multi-cloud system and strategy in place, and it is quickly becoming the norm in many industries. A multi-cloud strategy typically uses more than one cloud vendor, like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to host the organization’s data, apps, and processes in a single environment. This rapid shift to using a mix of SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and other cloud services from varied providers has opened new opportunities for organizations and created unique challenges that were unheard of in legacy systems. In addition to compounding network and data management obstacles of cloud-based systems, multi-cloud environments have cost, maintenance, and integration-related challenges.

As we navigate the journey to the future of work and business, here are some best practices to incorporate in multi-cloud environments:

Establish a strong governance framework: A multi-cloud environment necessitates synchronized policies and settings across different clouds and service providers. A robust governance model for managing the migration, cost, security, privacy, risks, and improvements across cloud assets becomes critical for multi-cloud for the entire system to run smoothly.

The model should provide administrators with a single point of access and control over different applications and empower users to interact with different tools and services in one place. You can opt for a cloud management platform or create your common management platform that acts as the focal point of different systems and infrastructures.

Additionally, establishing a robust cloud governance model not only helps manage business better but also enhances compliance across varied platforms and applications.

Build and upskill your team: Using multi and hybrid cloud systems requires a dedicated and specialized team to ensure seamless migration, integration, and management. It is recommended that you set up an in-house team of experts to design and implement your multi-cloud environment.

The team must consist of skilled cloud architects, cloud engineers, security professionals, experts in compliance and privacy, and system administrators. They should work closely with other business leaders and executives to fully comprehend the utility of enterprise applications, security, storage, etc.

If you already have a team working on cloud management, be sure to continually provide them the right training and resources, as the skills required to manage cloud systems are complex and evolving. The fact that there is a consistently high demand (and deficit) of IT talent well-versed in cloud computing for several years now shows how sought-after skilled professionals are in the domain.

Emphasize on security: Almost every three in four businesses are very or extremely concerned about how secure they are on the cloud. Gartner predicts that organizations will continue to struggle with cloud security. Since valuable business data is shared across various cloud assets in a multi-cloud environment, it is essential to devise a comprehensive security policy.

Your team must invariably have a security expert who ensures data security and privacy across all data points using standardized policies that unify the company’s cloud assets. You can also opt for the services of managed security service providers to ensure that all networks, servers, storage, and other aspects of the cloud are fully secure.

Regular and comprehensive checks across systems, alongside the latest training to remain vigilant, are vital to prevent attacks and data breaches. Furthermore, compliance with legal policies, international data protection laws, and encrypting confidential data are some other things to be mindful of.

Choose the right vendor(s): A multi-cloud environment involves several vendors, most notably for data centers, co-location services, SaaS tools and applications, testing, cloud infrastructure, security management, and multi-cloud management tools. Partnering with the right cloud and management tool vendors is critical to a smooth and successful business operation.

In a rapidly growing market, service providers offer several unique benefits and features to help organizations manage cost, performance, and security of multi-cloud systems across geographies. With just ten public cloud providers dominating more than half the public cloud market until 2023, organizations choose multiple vendors for varied reasons and not just to save money.

In addition to contrasting and comparing different offerings, you must consider the support provided by vendors in governance, analytics, redressal, and the time taken for migration and integration. Investing in multi-cloud management tools can help you manage the complex vendor relationships easily and assist you in regularly evaluating your systems’ efficacy.

Ensure seamless migration and integration: A multi-cloud strategy that allows judicious management of vendors must ingrain migration and integration into the governance and management model. You should balance on-premise and SaaS-based management products to find the best solutions that fulfill your goals, budget, security, and compliance requirements.

Be sure to fully understand the scope of the services and avoid lock-in with a vendor who makes it difficult to port to other platforms. Opt for technology stacks that are compatible with different platforms so that moving vendors is easy. You must choose cloud-agnostic tools and technology to enable your core infrastructure to be compatible with other cloud data warehouses. Using containers can also allow applications to run smoothly in different computing environments.

A strong API management strategy and careful integration of applications will help create a frictionless collaboration between different aspects of the cloud system and enable the most effective usage of data. Systems that allow the integration of business, data, processes, and tools are best suited for success.

Foster collaboration: Since multi-cloud frameworks involve many service providers, it becomes imperative to ensure collaboration between different deployments and teams.

Ineffective management of cloud assets or lack of collaboration with other business executives can lead to siloed and departmentalized processes and functions, which may naturally impede business growth and lead to systemic mismanagement.

Creating mapping workloads can help identify the right cloud component and services for the right business requirement. It also supports the IT, leadership, and management to work in tandem. If possible, one or more members of the team must be fully responsible for facilitating this coordination.

Set up feedback and improvement mechanisms: Since the cloud paradigm is continually evolving and innovating, it is essential to set up an improvement mechanism that not only accounts for upgrades but also enhances flexibility, security, and scalability of the entire system.

You must collect feedback, track usage of apps, and use AI-driven analytical tools to collect reliable and accurate data on performance, traffic, usage, availability, etc.

If analyzed and applied correctly, these insights can bolster workplace productivity and efficiency as well. A unified dashboard of your cloud deployments by integrating data from different APIs can help the team proactively solve maintenance challenges.

By 2021, 94% of all workload is expected to be processed by cloud data centers. However, remember that there is no one perfect multi-cloud management model that can be emulated for success.

Since this is uncharted territory for many senior leaders and managers, multi-cloud management might seem complex initially, but using the right tools in the right way can help you propel innovation and script a successful future.

In addition to the above best practices, start small, keep experimenting, and hire skilled cloud experts who can take charge. Each business must create its own multi-cloud strategy and design to address is strategic business needs.