Nov 17 2021

A Multicloud Strategy That Makes Sense for Higher Education

Having an intentional multivendor cloud strategy is critical for security, cost control and adoption success.

A growing number of higher education institutions these days are relying on multiple public and private clouds — in addition to dozens of cloud software vendors — for infrastructure to power hybrid education.

But it is common for universities and colleges to arrive at a multicloud approach without an overarching strategy to help them maximize their investments. And without an effective strategy, a multicloud environment can become expensive and complex.

To help higher education institutions build out a multicloud architecture that supports university missions, it’s worth considering these strategies for maximizing efficiency, minimizing costs and managing multiple cloud environments at scale.

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What Is a Multicloud Strategy?

multicloud strategy is a framework that helps universities and colleges manage multiple clouds. A sound strategy will be centered on these goals:

  • Cost control: Multicloud deployments are prone to resource sprawl, which can create unnecessary costs. A good multicloud strategy must prioritize visibility into current costs, expected uptake and total cost of ownership.
  • Data security: Where is your data located, and how is it protected in a multicloud environment? To streamline security across multiple clouds, robust governance, risk and compliance frameworks should pair with cloud security posture management tools.
  • Application management: To ensure apps are effective across multiple clouds, integration and interoperability are critical. It’s worth conducting complete assessments of current app operations, connections and dependencies to determine their ideal locations in multicloud environments.
  • Access regulation: It is challenging for colleges to simplify access across multiple clouds without introducing additional risks. Robust identity and access management tools can help reduce user frustration while ensuring the right people have access to the right data — in the right clouds.

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While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for post-secondary schools, the best practices remain consistent. It starts with users: Who’s going to use your clouds? And for what purpose?

The next step is to focus on process. Do you prefer more open cloud models, or is the goal to create strict segmentation? Universities and colleges must also consider organizational culture as whole. What principles guide your institution, and how do they inform cloud decisions? By aligning cloud deployments with existing culture, institutions can avoid common adoption issues.

Three Common Multicloud Strategy Models

The following three multicloud strategy models are most common.

Software as a Service model focuses on cloud-based application deployment. It uses different clouds to maximize application performance and reduce total costs.

Platform as a Service strategies, meanwhile, prioritize cloud services that allow schools to provision, develop, run and manage customized applications.

Finally, an Infrastructure as a Service approach uses multiple cloud providers to deliver key operational components such as storage, networking and compute power.

MORE ON EDTECH: 4 ways to simplify multicloud environments in higher ed.

Examples of Multicloud Architectures to Consider

Depending on the needs of your institution, each vendor architecture offers different benefits.

  • Dell multicloud solutions: Dell’s APEX Flex on Demand offering provides access to consumption-based, as-a-service solutions. With this option, universities could benefit from 86 percent faster data recovery and an 11 percent reduction in total operating expenses.
  • Microsoft multicloud offerings: Microsoft Azure makes it possible to manage servers, clusters and apps across multicloud environments from a single control plane.
  • Google multicloud frameworks: Google’s solutions empower universities to build and manage enterprise-grade containerized applications using both Kubernetes and serverless platform solutions that underpin seamless and scalable software delivery pipelines.

How to Manage Multiple Cloud Vendors

While the core of any multicloud strategy centers on the management of different services, post-secondary schools should also consider the bigger picture of multivendor management. Data and function interoperability has progressed to a point that allows easy cloud integration. But using multiple providers can add new layers of complexity, with IT teams managing several agreements, resources and provider costs.

As a result, it’s worth considering multivendor management as part of a larger multicloud strategy to streamline operations. Reputable service providers that have partnerships with multiple vendors can help schools create cohesive strategies to maximize benefits and reduce complexity.

KanawatTH/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

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