DECIDE – Making Multi Cloud Solutions Practical

Adopting Multi-Cloud solutions can be a difficult landscape to navigate. Politically there can be a reluctance to embrace changes, whether they are in processes or technology, and adopting new paradigms can generate operational challenges across the business.

Given the marked lack of standardisation of descriptions, moderation and governance within the CSP marketplace; the term multi-cloud (in common with other cloud terminologies) is often misused, misinterpreted and, as a result, miss-sold to cloud consumers.

In the DECIDE project we have identified 3 diverse model use cases whose deployment problems are representative of the issues which are resolvable utilising differing potential multi–cloud suppliers from the private sector. The latter include large International Corporations in Manweb/Experis, worldwide Cloud Serviced Providers (CSPs) in Arsys and niche SME CSPs in AIMES.  Each organisation is moving towards a federated model of Multi-Cloud delivery capacity with the drivers for doing so being diverse but including market completion, legislation and utility. The challenge that DECIDE faces is delivering services, tools and innovation that do not simply address the specific challenges faced by the use case providers, but rather create generic solutions to the common challenges in the markets represented by the use cases.

Individually, the need for and definition of multi-cloud is different from provider to provider, hence DECIDE does not define Multi-Cloud as a single approach but rather as an encompassing concept with a number of approaches including, but not limited to 

  1. The utilisation of one or more cloud service providers
  2. The utilisation of one or more cloud technologies
  3. An application which has one or more components, served by different clouds

By utilising the use cases to inform the development of a set of tools, DECIDE will both empower clients to identify and effectively utilise multi-cloud solution providers to meet their business needs. Conversely it will also enable CSPs to collaborate to deliver efficient, scalable and cost competitive services, whether co-located or across national boundaries across the EU and, potentially, beyond. Currently CSPs are generally not engaging directly with one another to deliver services to the customer. Often, they are external to the process of supplier selection with the cloud consumer taking a proactive role to architecting, sourcing, buying and managing heterogeneous, or at least compatible cloud services.  

Work carried out within the first year of DECIDE has provided visibility of the contractual complexities of delivering transnational services from diverse suppliers, who offer similar, but often not identical Service Level Agreements (SLAs), as well as some of the technical challenges relating to effective service monitoring, which would enable clients to have confidence that agreed contract terms are being adhered to in live environments. Combining these identified challenges with the medical, financial and commercial use cases to formulate a set of common requirements has enabled the decide project to derive specifications which have driven, and continue to drive, the development of the DECIDE integrated tool set. Although no one use case uses all elements of the now specified DECIDE ‘suite’, in combination their requirements form a complete product/service set. As the project completes its first year, partners are confident that they now have both stretching targets for each element and realistic expectations of what the pre- commercial demonstration tools will deliver. The next twelve months will see programmed controlled testing of the tools within the use case environments, with iterative improvements,  to ensure that each element, and the integrated whole, supports the delivery of enhanced client and supplier competitiveness.   Perhaps one of the most important aspect of the project is the explicit recognition that the emplacement effective Multi-Cloud solutions requires not only technical but also legal and operational compatibility. Testing the DECIDE toolset’s capacity to deliver those objectives, during 2018, will be challenging – but hopefully rewarding!