The Multi-Cloud Era: Where IT Freedom Becomes a Business Strategy

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On the patio of VMware’s Palo Alto offices, lights were set against a backdrop of indigo night sky and angular murals of vivid clouds streaked with purple and blue, framing the stage where VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram talked about freedom.

He described freedom as flexibility across the cloud, painting a world where enterprise businesses could choose the services they wanted on the clouds they wanted at a price that made the dream of freedom accessible. “This is the opposite of the monolithic portfolio,” he said.

I believe what Mr. Raghuram was envisioning is really the new definition of business value going forward – and the role of cloud in delivering that value. Without a cloud strategy, there is no business strategy. Cloud is the foundation for business innovation tied to measurable business outcomes: new revenue streams and business models, growth and productivity, service and product differentiation. These are the benchmarks for a cloud-first approach.

The Transformation is Underway

There’s an explosive transformation underway for companies as the Multi-cloud Era descends. In Mr. Raghuram’s keynote, which opened up VMware’s virtual three-day conference called VMworld 2021, he cited that the typical organization uses 500 apps “spread far and wide” with three-fourths of companies using two or more public clouds and 40% using three or more public clouds. He predicts “multi-cloud is the model we will use for the next 20 years.”. I agree. We can’t be tied to a single cloud provider. Why choose between cost, performance and security? I’d like to think we can have it all.

Several reasons forged a path to the Multi-cloud Era: more distributed enterprise architecture, more diverse workloads, the upswing of remote work, a shift from e-commerce to omni-channel e-commerce, the reimagining of the supply chain, the role of customer analytics, and the fact that each cloud has been traditionally designed as a silo equipped with its own tools and systems. The challenge for a technology leader to manage this web of applications is great. For developers, too, getting code into production isn’t easy. Securing the software supply chain for developers and operations is key.

With progress, comes complexity. As we adapt to evolving demands and adopt new cloud technologies, it is harder to manage, select and secure these different applications simultaneously. Yet, our customers and employees expect no excuses – nor should we give them any. They demand instant access to information, responsiveness and a delightful experience. If we fail on this point, the consequences to our business metrics are great.

Plan for all scenarios

Gartner gives us a valuable picture of what the future looks like for cloud as a business strategy. In “The Future of Cloud in 2025: From Technology to Innovation,” Gartner shares four critical predictions by 2025:

  • More than 50% of enterprises will use a distributed cloud option to process data at the location of their choice.
  • Cloud native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital workloads.
  • Nearly all companies will have a cloud-first principle.
  • Applications of the future will be assembled by people who use them.

Will everyone move to the cloud? As someone who once dangled from the side of an ice glacier when my boot’s crampon came off, I know the value of preparation (obviously, the story had a happy ending). This same principle applies to technology and, more specifically, to cloud.

Some people will move to the public cloud over time. Others will remain on-prem and never move to the cloud for a variety of reasons: compliance, costs or the nature of their job. But, that doesn’t mean a cloud operating model is something that is out of reach.

VMware is partnering with AWS to prepare for such circumstances with the concept of Local Cloud services. Together, they are enabling greater control over data and apps with VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts. This offering will provide customers simple, scalable, and more secure on-prem Cloud infrastructure delivered as a service with optimized access to native AWS services.

Affordability, too, contributes to freedom because if you can’t afford technology, choice is taken off the table. VMware is creating greater accessibility through both its pricing model and the money it saves companies using its technology. CloudHealth customers, for example, save 25% on average in a month just by understanding what they are spending on cloud. Understanding its customer is a major advantage VMware delivers.

Freedom Opens Up Business Opportunities

Under a California moon, as Mr. Raghuram talked about the power of making your own decisions and controlling your destiny, I thought about something that is often on my mind: how entwined the human existence is with technology. This is the very place where I believe we grow.

From Mr. Raghuram’s keynote, I’d like to share something he said that I found both hopeful and exciting: “Just as data sovereignty is about controlling your data, enterprise sovereignty speaks at a higher level about preserving your freedom of choice both now and into the future.”

Freedom is a concept never to be taken for granted. Business results come from smarter decision-making and more choice. These will play a critical role in the Multi-cloud Era where we see cloud transform from an IT strategy to a business strategy with far reaching implications for companies to achieve measurable business results beyond what they can imagine today.