One of my favorite things about my job is connecting with customers to explore how they’re executing on their business strategy. What’s helping them move faster? Equally important, what’s holding them back? In my conversations with leaders at more than 200 organizations over the past few months, three key themes have emerged.
First, there’s an understanding that every business is now defined by the applications they deliver. Competitive advantage lies in an organization’s ability to quickly build, run and secure apps when and where they are needed—both to engage end customers in new ways and to empower a distributed workforce.
Second, as entire industries reinvent themselves through applications, the state-of-the-art model is to run those apps in multiple clouds. Why? Because savvy businesses want to tap into “best of the best” services from different cloud providers. They don’t want to be constrained or locked into any single cloud. Our analysis shows that 75% of our enterprise customers now use two or more public clouds, and 40% are moving to three or more. At this point it’s clear: multi-cloud is the model for digital business for the next 20+ years.
How did we get here? Most companies started in the cloud with a focus on building customer-facing mobile apps. Now they have expanded the aperture and are working to revamp and modernize their entire app portfolio. They want to “cloudify their core,” as one CIO described it.
Here’s the third key theme I hear consistently: While the leaders I talk to love the strategic advantages they get with multi-cloud – speed, business resilience, better customer experiences – those benefits come with distinct challenges. As one CIO I talked to put it: “Multi-cloud is here to stay, but we’re in the early days and it’s not easy. In fact, it’s hard right now.”
For starters, the typical app portfolio is incredibly diverse—from cloud-native to core enterprise to SaaS apps, and increasingly apps that extend to the edge, closer to the data and the user. And then there are the disparate clouds where you run those apps: Each one presents its own siloed set of tools and processes, creating friction for your developers and Ops teams.
Meanwhile, your customers and employees need instant access to all of these apps on a 24x7 basis. And the security you put in place better not slow them down. Put it all together, this is the most diverse and complex environment we’ve ever had to manage.
Enterprise Sovereignty: Freedom & Control in a Multi-Cloud World
In the end, what every organization wants is a balance between freedom and control. You want the speed, agility and choice of multi-cloud—tightly coupled with an ability to maintain full control of your environment and your spend. Put another way, every business wants to unlock the full value of multi-cloud without the complexity and without losing decision-making power.
I call this Enterprise Sovereignty. What do I mean by that? Just as data sovereignty is about controlling your data, enterprise sovereignty speaks at a higher level about retaining full control over your business.
You control your own destiny by maintaining freedom of choice—both in the decisions you make today and in preserving your strategic options for the future. In practice, this means that when you choose which cloud to build or run a particular application on, your decision is based entirely on the needs of the app and your business priorities. It’s about being “cloud smart,” with an ability to match every workload to the cloud that works best—with full access to that innovative machine-learning tool or analytics solution or database service that helps you compete and win.
Breaking Through Tough Choices
Going forward, multi-cloud is the de facto operating model for most enterprises. And it is the center of gravity for everything we do at VMware. Our focus is helping our customers capture all the advantages of multi-cloud by breaking through the tough choices that held you back in the past.
For example, rather than choose between private or public or edge clouds, you can utilize them all in a frictionless and secure way. Rather than choose between optimizing for developers or optimizing for Ops, your teams can now be united in modernizing applications. In short, we’re innovating to make multi-cloud easy, so organizations can move faster, spend less and be free.
In many ways, we’re all just getting started with multi-cloud. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Ultimately, it’s perspective and insights from you, our customers, that shapes what we do and where we focus our energy and innovation.