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February 29, 2024 | Channing Lovett

How to Overcome Cloud Complexity Challenges & Simplify Cloud

Complexity can breed confusion, frustration, and defeat. Whether your business is just starting in the cloud, or you’re trying to make the most of a multicloud environment, cloud complexity can easily impede your progress through technical, organizational, and cultural roadblocks.

How can your organization overcome cloud complexity and make the most of an agile, innovative environment? Below, we cover:

  • What cloud complexity is
  • Its common causes
  • How to manage it before it takes over

What is Cloud Complexity?

Cloud complexity refers to the intricacies and challenges that arise from the design, deployment, management, and operation of cloud computing environments. It encompasses the various layers, components, and interdependencies within a cloud infrastructure, which can become increasingly complex as organizations adopt and integrate multiple cloud services, platforms, and providers.

While cloud computing has the power to simplify many processes for organizations by streamlining, unifying, and scaling resources more effectively, it also introduces new complexities that can be challenging for businesses without adequate experience in the cloud. Trying to work through these complexities is a common problem: a recent Hitachi study surveying IT leaders found that 45% of businesses are struggling with “navigating complex cloud landscapes.”

8 Common Cloud Complexity Causes

The root causes of cloud complexity will depend on how the environment is set up and what a business wants to accomplish but can include both technical and organizational factors.

Generally, cloud complexity can stem from a handful of factors, including:

Infographic of the 8 Common Cloud Complexity Causes
  1. Multicloud and Hybrid Cloud Environments: Organizations often leverage a mix of public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions, which can lead to increased complexity due to the need for interoperability, data synchronization, and management across different platforms.
  2. Data Gravity: The amount of data an organization has expands exponentially every day. As data volumes grow, the complexity of managing and moving data across cloud environments can become more challenging, especially when dealing with large datasets or real-time data processing.
  3. Security and Compliance: Ensuring the security of data and applications in the cloud, as well as meeting compliance requirements, can be complex due to the shared responsibility model between cloud providers and customers, and the need to secure data across multiple environments.
  4. Application and Infrastructure Interdependencies: Cloud environments often involve complex interdependencies between applications, services, and infrastructure components, which can make it difficult to understand and manage the impact of changes or failures.
  5. Integration Challenges: Integrating existing legacy systems with cloud environments can introduce complexities, including data migration, API compatibility, and ensuring seamless communication between on-premises and cloud-based applications
  6. Skills and Expertise: Managing cloud complexity requires specialized skills and expertise, which can be challenging for organizations to acquire and retain in-house. It can also be a struggle to overcome the learning curve necessary to understand the diversity of services available, set up interoperability between different frameworks, and protect data in one or more cloud environments.
  7. Cost Management: Managing costs in cloud environments can add complexity, especially as usage scales up or down dynamically. Organizations need to optimize resource allocation, monitor usage patterns, and forecast future needs to avoid unexpected expenses.
  8. Other Organizational Issues: There can also be challenges due to having unclear policies and procedures for cloud use and countering resistance from some employees who may be less willing to embrace the cloud.

Why Cloud Complexity is a Concern for Organizations

Cloud complexity isn’t just a theoretical challenge; it carries real-world implications for businesses looking to bring the cloud into more of their processes. Organizations that want to engage in digital transformation projects with cloud must consider the impact of cloud complexity, including consequences that run counter to the potential benefits of cloud computing.

infographic of the why cloud complexity is a concern for businesses

Reduced Agility and Innovation

Businesses that embrace the cloud can benefit greatly from more agility and opportunities to innovate. However, cloud complexity, when not addressed properly, can also reduce agility and hinder innovation. Managing intricate environments with distinct web interfaces and security measures can pull focus from key innovation initiatives.

Security Vulnerabilities

Every layer added to an IT environment can generate a new list of security vulnerabilities and concerns. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach report, companies with more complex security systems experienced higher costs associated with data breaches, averaging $5.28 million, compared to businesses with low or no complexity in their security systems at $3.84 million. IT leaders need to identify every touchpoint and potential door attackers may take to infiltrate their systems, which becomes more difficult as cloud environments get more complex.

Operational Inefficiencies

Provisioning, patching, and troubleshooting can be simple tasks on their own, but when performed across multiple cloud environments, or a hybrid cloud environment that includes on-premises frameworks, operational activities can become inefficient quickly. If not addressed, the stumbling blocks can make it feel tempting to return to on-premises IT, where tasks feel simpler.

Management Headaches

When left unaddressed, cloud complexity can create a never-ending to-do list for management, shifting managers from a proactive to a reactive role. This can lead to frustration, inhibit other, more important strategic tasks, and cause employee burnout that extends to all levels of the team. Because of these challenges, managing cloud complexity is a must.

How to Manage Cloud Complexity

To manage cloud complexity, businesses should determine the level of complexity they’re dealing with, develop a governance framework to handle it, boost efficiency through automation and the right tools, and implement practices that standardize, consolidate, and monitor their new cloud architecture, whether they’re in a single- or multicloud environment.

Perform an Assessment and Analysis

Knowing how to tackle cloud complexity starts with determining the extent of the complexity. Perform a cloud assessment and analysis to understand the moving parts that will be involved in your cloud environment. Will you have to integrate legacy frameworks, bring in multiple cloud sources, and learn how to leverage new tools?

Develop a Cloud Governance Framework

A cloud governance framework enables organizations to establish clear guidelines and processes for cloud adoption, management, and resource utilization.

The assessment and analysis step will outline the “what,” while the cloud governance framework will define the “who,” “why,” and “how.” Developing a cloud governance framework includes defining roles and responsibilities for different team members, highlighting security concerns, pinpointing compliance measures, and so on. By maintaining control and preventing unnecessary cloud sprawl, a well-formed governance framework can reduce overall complexity.

Embrace Automation and Tools

One of the benefits of moving to the cloud is that businesses can take advantage of tools that may not function properly, if at all, in an on-premises environment. By automating predictable tasks and using tools to create efficiencies using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) solutions, organizations can chip away at cloud complexity task by task.

Implement Standardization and Consolidation Practices

Because cloud computing can take businesses almost anywhere, there is a downside to this limitless nature as well. Reducing complexity also looks like standardizing by using a limited set of approved cloud resources, platforms, and configurations. It’s also easy to experience scope creep in the cloud, so organizations should have a plan to regularly revisit and consolidate redundant services and workloads where possible.

Consider a Multi-Cloud Management Platform

Bring several cloud environments together under one roof by using a multi-cloud management platform. These platforms can provide a unified view of all of your cloud resources across providers from one dashboard, making management and monitoring much easier. You can also employ automation and standardization best practices through the platform and enjoy savings by identifying opportunities for greater cloud cost optimization.

Conduct Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

Using cloud-native tools and a management platform, your business can conduct continuous monitoring and optimization on your complex cloud environment. Track resource utilization, optimize your cloud configurations, and find bottlenecks in your processes to improve performance and reduce cloud waste. Improve security by watching for vulnerabilities, suspicious activity, and incoming threats to take a proactive rather than reactive stance. Both performance and security monitoring can optimize your cloud environment and improve cost efficiencies.

Consult with a Managed Cloud Services Provider

Oftentimes, the best way to rise above cloud complexity challenges is by working with a partner who has been there before. A managed cloud services partner can take your business from a tangled web to an orderly grid thanks to their deep cloud experience and knowledge. Managed service providers can also offer other services, such as 24/7 support.

Overcoming Cloud Complexity Management

TierPoint works to take businesses from chaos to clarity. Our managed cloud services can help you make sense of it all, whether you’re integrating one cloud environment or working to unify several. Reach out to one of our experts so we can work together to start untangling your complexity.

Did you know many organizations risk layering on more complexities due to a lack of specialized knowledge? Read our eBook to learn exactly what types of technical skills and resources you need to have on your team throughout your cloud journey.

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