Multi Cloud operations Multi-Cloud

Cloud Operating Model for Multi-Cloud

In the previous blog post about multi-cloud we talked about multi-cloud and what the impact it has to the I&O organization. And for most I&O organizations it is a journey to move from traditional IT management to a cloud operating model for multiple clouds. In this blog post we will look into the evolution of cloud over time. We’ll dive into the two evolutionary steps that most enterprises go through in their cloud journey.

Cloud Operating Model Defined

Cloud operating model refers to the operational model used by I&O organization when adopting cloud and trying to execute their cloud strategy. The model is used to transform the traditional IT management within an organization to be capable of managing the clouds that the business consumes. These clouds provide the IT resources that run the applications for the business.

A cloud strategy typically is the starting point to move towards cloud. The choices made in the cloud strategy will define the cloud operating model. The goal of the cloud operating model is to manage the (multi-)cloud architecture that will be used to host the applications for the business. As no company has the same cloud strategy we can say that every cloud operating model is unique, but generically speaking it will result in the fact that the I&O organization will become a service provider / broker and that over time multiple clouds will be used. These can either be public or private clouds. The operating model needs to be adaptable. Meaning that over time the amount of clouds that need to be managed can change.

A cloud operating model addresses the following topics :

  • Define the operational management of the cloud platform(s);

  • Structure of the cloud management organization and definition of responsibility and accountability;

  • Cloud governance, security and compliance;

  • Change management on an application, security, data and infrastructure level;

For I&O organizations that are adopting cloud(s) this means that people, process and technology need to come together around the cloud strategy. The goal is to move towards a model IT services are delivered through self-service and that most of the delivery of those services is done automatically. The consumption of IT services need to become friction less. Consumers of cloud need to be able to do things themselves through a self-service portal or the API. For the I&O organization this is a shift from manual operations to automated operations with self-service capabilities. And all of this while remaining in control from resource management, cost and security perspective of the cloud resources that are needed to deliver the IT services.

Adopting a cloud operating model results into the following advantages for the I&O organization and the consumers of cloud services :

  • Faster response time to the needs of the business;

  • Deliver business value through cloud services;

  • Reduce the risks associated with multi-cloud adoption;

  • Strengthen collaboration between IT and the business;

  • Drive innovation and implementation of new technology;

  • A overall, consistent layer of control and governance across all clouds.

For more information on cloud operating model on a people, process and technology perspective read this blog post and this whitepaper.

Cloud Journey Roadmap

The transformation towards a cloud operating model for most I&O organizations starts when the journey towards cloud begins. Below is a cloud journey roadmap that shows a typical cloud journey for most enterprise customers. This is not a prescriptive path. This is just a common path that most enterprises are going through. The end situation for most enterprises today is that they end up with multiple clouds, private and public, that need to be managed and need a cloud operating model in order to do that.

In general there are two big steps where cloud operating model is relevant. First is the step where customers transform their existing infrastructure into a private cloud. The second step is when the I&O organization is challenged with the fact that the business wants to consume also other clouds than the private cloud.

We will look into the two evolutionary steps and determine what is needed from a cloud operating model perspective. What I&O organizations need to do in order to fulfill the needs from the business while remaining in control of the cloud.

Transforming to Private Cloud

For most customers the cloud journey starts (or has started) with the move to private cloud. The demand from the business is to be able to consume IT services on a self-service, on-demand basis. This comes out of the frustration that IT is perceived as a “bottleneck”. Especially in those organizations that are already consuming public cloud, it is no longer accepted that IT services takes days or weeks to be delivered. Consumers of cloud expect a “public cloud like” experience when it comes to consuming IT services.

The goal of private cloud is to remove the manual process of delivering IT services. Private cloud must deliver services on-demand and through self-service without any interference of the I&O organization.

This cloud operating model for private cloud is focused on delivering cloud services on top of the traditional infrastructure.

There are 3 capabilities that are needed from the cloud-operating model if it comes to enabling private cloud :

  1. Operational Control : One need to know what is happening within your infrastructure before moving towards a cloud operating model. Full stack operational insight is a requirement. One can not manage what one can not see. Especially when you are going to automate IT services and provide self-service towards your consumers, there needs to be operational insight what is happening within the cloud environment.

  2. Service Automation : This is typically where the private cloud journey starts for most people. As already stated : “cloud is nothing more than delivering IT services”. That is done in an automated fashion through self-service. For that you need to be able to automate infrastructure and applications resources and deliver them through services that can be consumed through a self-service portal and/or API.

  3. Cost Insight : Transitioning towards a cloud operating model also has an impact on how to allocate cost. The consumer of the cloud has to pay for the services. Transitioning to an as-a-service (cloud) model needs to be aligned with a move towards billing for the services that are consumed. This means that IT Operations needs to provide costs details for the services that they offer.

When these three things are in place it enables I&O organizations to satisfy the needs from the business too quickly and easily deliver IT services. At the same time the I&O organization is still in control of the application and infrastructure resources.

Evolving towards Multi-Cloud

The cloud journey for most enterprises at the same time continues. Over the last decade public clouds have gained traction within the business and within I&O organization. The model where services can be consumed from a public cloud provider has become an attractive option for businesses to build and host their applications on.

Research has indicated that 93% of all enterprises have a cloud strategy that will lead to consumption of multiple clouds. 6% of enterprises will have a strategy that consists out of public cloud, but 87% of all enterprises will have a cloud strategy that will end up with a hybrid cloud scenario. (For more information look at this whitepaper) This means that I&O organizations both need to manage their private cloud and one or multiple public clouds.

This means that the I&O organizations of these enterprises also need to evolve their cloud operating model. They need to make sure that they can put governance on top of their clouds, both private and public, and make sure that they remain in control wherever the business wants to consume its IT services from.

The difference is that next to the consumption of private cloud there is now also the consumption of public cloud services. Within most enterprises the management of public clouds is dealt with by a separate team the the team that manages the private cloud. In some cases the lines of business or the developers themselves directly have access to the public cloud services.

For the I&O organization this means that there is also a need for governance of the public clouds. There needs to be mechanisms in place the make sure that the I&O organization is still in control of the IT resources in both private and public cloud.

Two capabilities are needed to have to expand the cloud operating model towards multi-cloud management :

  1. Cost Management : One of the first challenges I&O organization face is the the need to control cost when consuming public cloud. Everything you consume in public cloud results in cost. There needs to be cost control and the ability the optimist the cost of public clouds. I&O needs to be able to control that and be in line with the budget that has been given by the finance department.

  2. Security & Compliance : Consuming services from public cloud means that I&O is not entirely in control of the entire stack. Next to that public cloud within enterprises are typically directly consumed by the cloud users within the business. I&O need to be make sure that security and compliance regulations are in line with company policies. The cloud operating model needs to provide the mechanism to do that as I&O is still in control and responsible for security and compliance.

These are not the only capabilities that are needed, but the ones that are most pressing when starting to consume public clouds and with that evolving towards a cloud operating model for multi-cloud. Still operational control and a focus on service delivery is also important task of I&O organizations, but the focus there is more to control what cloud consumers have deployed in all the clouds.


In this blog post we have looked at the cloud operating model and how it need to evolve when enterprises are moving towards a situation of multi-cloud. For that a multi-cloud operating model is required giving I&O organization the ability to manage their private cloud and public cloud.

It is an evolutionary process for most I&O organizations. First the move towards private cloud by transforming their existing infrastructure to a private cloud. And second to evolve the operational model for cloud to a model that can manage and operate multiple cloud : a multi-cloud operating model.

All of this can be achieved with a good cloud strategy that aligns people, process and technology to match the outcomes that the business and its cloud consumers desire.

In the next post we will look into the capabilities that are needed within the two different stages when moving towards a multi-cloud operating model.

Related content in this article :

Blog : Multi-Cloud : What’s in a Name? by Martijn Baecke

Blog : The Cloud Operating Model by Mandy Storbakken

Whitepaper : Organizing for the Cloud by Kevin Lees

Whitepaper : Hybrid and Multi-cloud Complexity Requires Unified Cross-Cloud Management and Control by IDC (sponsored by VMware)

Whitepaper : VMware Multi-Cloud Architecture : Enabling Choice and Flexibility by Martin Hosken


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