Multicloud Optimization: Critical Steps for CIOs in Healthcare, Public Sector, and Financial Services

While organizations in key service industries have been slow to embrace a multicloud approach or realize its full benefits, many have recognized its value. Wendy M Pfeiffer, CIO, Nutanix, details the opportunities and steps organizations in healthcare, public sector, and finance must take to maximize the benefits of a multicloud environment.

“Digital transformation” has taken on a new meaning in recent years: it no longer necessarily focuses on the transformation of companies themselves, but on their ecosystems. For example, when the pandemic hit, societal transformation created existential threats for certain businesses (e.g. restaurants). To survive, businesses themselves did not transform, but their ecosystems did (i.e. restaurants started using third-party delivery systems).

This transformation of the ecosystem has also occurred in three main sectors: healthcare, public sector and financial services. Specifically, we’ve seen the healthcare industry shift heavily towards telehealth, government agencies change requirements for manual processes like obtaining a driver’s license, and the rise of online banking. Key to these successful adjustments was the ability for businesses and organizations to compute data from multiple sources or use a multicloud model. As a computing environment that embodies two or more different clouds, private and/or public, multicloud is currently the most widely used deployment model.

To better understand where these three key industries are in their multicloud journeys, Nutanix’s global Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) surveyed IT professionals to uncover industry-specific opinions, challenges, and trends. It also offers the best takeaways and recommended next steps CIOs should consider.

Learn more: Cloud vs Edge? Key Strategies for Optimizing Distributed Critical Applications

Healthcare CIO: Extend on-premises private clouds to public clouds

Despite 90% of healthcare respondents see multicloud as their ideal model, its current adoption rate is 27% as the private cloud continues to prevail among healthcare organizations. While this lower adoption rate may initially paint a picture of the healthcare industry struggling to advance its cloud strategies, healthcare organizations face several challenges when moving to multicloud. Some of them are security issues, lack of IT skills and cost management.

The most significant challenge healthcare CIOs face when spearheading cloud migrations is the highly regulated nature of the healthcare industry. With compliance and patient privacy at the forefront of their IT deployment decisions, many are hesitant to trust public clouds. However, a dynamic and fluid multicloud infrastructure provides the agility to make continuous adjustments. It enables the use of public clouds as an on-demand “switched-on” computing resource, consumed and paid for only as it is used. Public clouds also make data and applications easily accessible to a growing number of remote and geographically dispersed employees and patients. Healthcare organizations stand to gain from multicloud, and extending on-premises private clouds to one or more public clouds for appropriate use cases is a fundamental first step they should take to take advantage of a multicloud.

Public Sector CIOs: Explore Container Adoption

The CIS findings show that more public sector organizations have adopted multicloud as their primary IT operating model. The global public education subsector reported the highest usage among all global CIS respondents, with 62% reporting using two or more public cloud platforms. Meanwhile, US federal organizations reported above-average adoption of multicloud as their primary IT operating model. These results indicate that momentum is critical for public sector CIOs, and setting improvement goals is a great way to maintain that momentum.

One area that public sector CIOs can look to improve is application mobility or moving an application to another IT infrastructure. Application mobility is essential to multicloud optimization because it allows IT to quickly and easily manage the movement of applications and workloads between infrastructures. Despite this, application mobility is cited by 47% of public sector ECI respondents as one of the top multicloud challenges because it is time consuming and expensive. Embracing containers, which allow applications to run and move separately from other applications, is a great next step for these CIOs as they seek to facilitate application mobility.

Financial Services CIO: Set Consistent Security Policies Across Clouds

When considering ECI responses specific to the financial services industry, fewer of its organizations have adopted multicloud than any other industry studied. The adoption rate in the financial services industry is 10% lower than the global average, but is expected to accelerate and double over the next three years, from 26% to 56%. Similar to the healthcare sector, the adoption rate of the financial services sector is lagging due to significant challenges such as burdensome regulations, cross-border performance, cost management, capacity planning and application mobility.

Among respondents to the financial services CIS, 31% still operate non-cloud-enabled three-tier data centers as their sole IT infrastructure. As 50% of respondents to the Financial Services CIE indicated, security is the biggest multicloud management challenge they face. To fully execute the multicloud vision, financial services CIOs must prioritize defining and enforcing consistent security policies across all clouds. The complexity of managing beyond cloud boundaries remains a major challenge for financial services organizations, with 84% of respondents agreeing that success requires easier management across multicloud infrastructures.

Networking is an essential, but until recently overlooked, aspect of the multicloud journey. Businesses need a single software-defined solution to manage all of their disparate networks, whether on-premises or in a public cloud. Almost all financial services respondents (98%) have moved one or more applications to a new computing environment in the past 12 months. Faster application development (43%) was most often cited as a reason for the move, followed closely by security (42%) and integration with cloud-native services (40%). Financial industry organizations clearly see the promise of multicloud, but view consistent security policies as a barrier. Once this hurdle is overcome, many organizations can take full advantage of the benefits of multicloud.

In conclusion, with multicloud adoption expected to increase to 64% over the next three years across all industries, the model is here to stay. While every industry faces different challenges, my CIO colleagues now have the experience to make informed decisions for their organizations while guiding their IT teams towards a successful multicloud operating model.

What steps have you taken to maximize the benefits of a multicloud environment in your organization? Let us know on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.

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Stephen V. Lee