In today’s uncertain economic environment, business leaders are looking to CIOs more than ever before, to accelerate key priorities while hitting aggressive financial targets., writes Jason Conyard, Chief Information Officer, VMware.This often means charging ahead with digital initiatives that set us up for future success, while simultaneously lowering costs and optimising for efficiency. If it sounds like these priorities are often in conflict, you’re not wrong.

Over the past few years, multi-cloud has emerged as one of the most effective ways for organisations around the globe to sharpen their competitive edge. Recent research commissioned by VMware found that nearly all (95%) organisations believe multi-cloud architectures are critical for business success.1

However, several years into the multi-cloud journey, organisations are starting to see the financial and operational costs of moving fast across multiple clouds. According to the same study, 76% of multi-cloud organisations reported a need to improve control over their cloud expenses.

It’s not enough to just enable the business – it’s incumbent on the CIO to also mitigate spiraling costs. Simply said, as macroeconomic concerns rise, CIOs must play both offense and defense.

Here are three ways we can all be­­­ playing both sides of the field.

  1. Invest In cloud mobility

The value of a multi-cloud strategy is in the flexibility and freedom to access your data from anywhere and at any time. The primary risk in realising this potential is in commercial and technical lock-in.

If your cloud provider changes their pricing model, are you commercially locked in, or can you seamlessly migrate workloads and applications?

If the next global news headline has you concerned about data privacy and security, does your team have the skills to adopt a new cloud architecture?

By designing and refactoring with mobility in mind, you can easily move applications between clouds without requiring significant changes to the underlying architecture, thus reducing the risk of being contingent on a particular provider.

Maintaining mobility also offers benefits such as empowering developers to choose the right cloud for the right app, leveraging best-in-class AI and ML capabilities for cross-cloud analysis and mitigation, and enabling “anywhere work” for employees all over the world while complying with data sovereignty regulations.

  1. Improve visibility to control cloud spend

Rising cloud costs can be the Achilles heel of app innovation. While developers drive demand for multi-cloud technology, CIOs are often left to clean up the financial aftermath of successful app launches.

Providing visibility to your application and service owners is the first step to reigning in spend and protecting against ballooning costs.

Think about an apartment complex that includes the cost of utilities as part of the monthly rate. How closely would you monitor your electricity or water usage if you never receive a bill?

With visibility comes accountability and while previously applications owners could only optimise for security, scale and availability, today, they can now also optimise for cost.

With cloud management solutions, application owners can share in the responsibility of managing spend by looking for patterns and identifying opportunities to reduce spend. Just last year we filed a patent for an automatic cloud “dimmer switch” that reduces and redeploys cloud resources the moment they are no longer needed. This innovation has not only reduced spend but saved in energy consumption.

  1. Simplify your landscape

In response to the profound pace of change in the industry, we’re seeing businesses be quick to add powerful technology and services to their portfolios, but much slower to fully cut the legacy systems these new tools were meant to replace. This creates a cumbersome tech web that can frustrate your business and slow down innovation.

Why go to great lengths to attract and hire top talent only to tether them to legacy apps that are no longer fit for purpose? With a simpler landscape, engineers who manage liability and risk are no longer saddled with patching and monitoring a grab-bag of underutilised systems and applications Shed the weight and invest in the future.

When companies take the opportunity to reduce the number of legacy applications and systems, they can not only save money and increase productivity, but reduce their attack surface and risk profile. Agility is key here. To be agile and give developers the environment they need, we must simplify the landscape.

Empowering the team on both sides of the field

Leaders need to leverage their employees’ skills and empower them to help their business grow, while enabling customers to prosper. To foster this growth mindset, it requires up- and cross-skilling employees to be successful on both offense and defense: innovating fast, while controlling costs and complexity.

We need to enable teams to get rid of dead weight and embrace new models to drive efficiency and better secure our businesses. At the same time, we need to reward them for thinking about both the short-term gains and long-term ROI of embracing a cloud-smart operating model.

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