Deloitte Consulting Cloud Guru: 5 Winning Multi-cloud Strategies

Deloitte’s Chief Cloud Strategy Officer David Linthicum explains to CRN five winning cloud investments and strategies that channel partners should do if they want to succeed in the multi-cloud world.

5 Winning Cloud Investments And Multi-cloud Strategies Partners Should Know

Cloud visionary David Linthicum understands the complexities of the multi-cloud world and what businesses truly need from solution providers to achieve their digital transformation goals.

“The days of, ‘You have to use this one cloud brand and that’s it,’— are over. [Businesses] are deciding on what are the best-of-breed cloud technologies they need to bring to bear. If that’s multi-cloud—in other words, it’s going to get them into a more complex operational state — so be it,” said Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer of global IT consulting powerhouse Deloitte Consulting.

“So IT has to hurry up and do some planning to figure out how they’re going to operate things moving forward. That’s the big rush right now,” he said.

Linthicum, who is also a best-selling author and hosts a popular technology podcast, is responsible for building innovative cloud solutions for $50.2 billion consulting services behemoth Deloitte in order to help its customers operate more efficiently.

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The complex multi-cloud environment facing businesses today can be daunting, he said, and enterprises need to be effective once they achieve it.

Linthicum said after enterprises set up a multi-cloud environment, they cannot just sit there and do nothing “because operational complexity will kill them.”

“They can’t quadruple their ops budget and ops tools. In other words, adding more people and more technology,” he said. “So they have to figure out how to do things in a smart way which is going to allow them to run an environment where we’re moving from say: 1,000 cloud services and applications under management, to as many as 10,000. And doing so with the same amount of resources. That’s normally what we’re wrestling with these days. That seems to be the major trend.”

Led by Linthicum, Deloitte Consulting has been creating unique cloud frameworks and multi-cloud strategies to help customers of all shapes and sizes successfully operator and flourish.

In an interview with CRN, Linthicum explains five key strategies and investments that are helping Deloitte Consulting succeed in the multi-cloud world that channel partners should take note of.

Deloitte Created A Cloud Complexity Management Framework

A while ago, we created a Cloud Complexity Management framework to deal with the cloud complexity issues for [customers] either in the planning stages or in flight.

In other words: you are already there, and you realize you have an issue—how do you retroactively fix the thing while the trucks rolling down the road? And investing in those innovations before the need is there, is ultimately what we do well. So in other words, it’s observing the marketplace and proactively managing the realities of cloud transformation.

We have research teams where we figure out where our clients are at, and also where the market is at, and then try to pre-solve problems that we see coming down the line.

So if multi-cloud is going to bring in complexity, complexity is going to bring in hardships in terms of operational challenges and money challenges.

We’ve put together a framework in how that’s going to happen and lay down the foundation [for customers] to achieve what cloud makes possible.

Provide Customers Hands-On Experience With Real-World Use Cases

Enterprises aren’t going to move to something, and certainly manufacturing enterprises aren’t going to move to something, that they haven’t seen work. And they’re not going to partner with people to help them get there who haven’t got the direct experience in making these things work.

It’s one thing to say, ‘Well, artificial intelligence is going to be important.’ These things aren’t very strong predictions, but placing bets on how organizations can weaponize and leverage this technology as a force multiplier is important.

I’m going out today to see our smart factory in Wichita, Kansas. This is an example of us building something to define what a smart factory is—not just doing it on a PowerPoint presentation, but actually doing it in real life—to figure out how all these factory machines interconnect with one to another; how we figure out inventory control; and how we optimize supply chain and practice.

We can walk the client through it and tell them where the landmines are and where the opportunities are to leverage this technology effectively.

This lab gives us the ability to look at how these things are going to work and play well with one to another. We do the same thing with retail industries and things like that. So what does a next generation retailer look like, for example.

We do those things all the time: the ability to set up a deployment area where we are not only talking about the technology, but experimenting with it and getting a pragmatic use case up and running so people can go look at it.

Build On Top Of Clouds, Not Within

Cloud complexity was kind of reacting to something we saw coming in two years and that’s starting to occur right now with the advent of multi-cloud.

But looking at autonomous data management, the ability to deal with distributed data through a single control plane, and lots of these theories that have been bantered about for 20 years—the vendors aren’t even moving in those directions yet. But it’s about looking at some of the architectural innovations as to where you can provide value.

We’re seeing all this stuff normalize in terms of the multi-cloud. We’re going to be building things on top of the clouds. It’s not going to be within the clouds as much anymore.

Even though the things may be physically running in the cloud, we’re thinking at this conceptual level that exists on top of the enterprise systems, traditional legacy systems, cloud-based systems, private cloud-based systems—things like that.

So how do you do that if it’s a widely distributed complex system and dealing with the data? Well, you have to figure out where the data is going to be stored. It probably won’t scale if you’re going to distribute the data everywhere and have heterogeneous databases that run everywhere.

But a single control plane, a single virtual virtualization layer, then defining what that looks like, and figuring out how to put it on the path for innovation for not only the client, so they figure out where the world was going, but also the vendors. They’re starting to build products in those directions.

You Must Stay Objective To Be A True Trusted Advisor

I think a lot of organizations, and certainly ones I’ve worked for in the past, they have a tendency to kind of say, ‘Well, this is our view of the world, and we’re not coming off it. And everything’s going to be marching in this particular direction,’ – don’t do that.

So it is kind of a trusted adviser relationship where we’re listening to them and also taking a few steps to making sure that our advice is objective.

For a trusted adviser, almost like a doctor or a lawyer, the ability to walk down the objectivity path is difficult to do.

There’s lots of vendors out there and different partner programs and things like that, but looking at the responsibility and making sure that we’re providing them a technology solution that’s going to be optimized to their needs, and not necessarily some sort of a prebuilt stack moving forward [is important].

My role in life has been making sure that doesn’t happen. And if we do see those things start to form, make sure we’re breaking them up and moving them in a more objective direction. So staying objective, and providing capabilities to do that is important.

Be A Thought Leader, Not A Fast Follower

The thought leadership aspect of creating new spaces and not necessarily to being a fast follower is important. It’s about getting in the uncomfortable position of taking a stand as to where we think things are going to go. Then defining what we think those concepts are going to be.

That’s a bit of a courageous thing to do these days if you’re starting to place bets and spend some money, but there’s easy things to predict.

I think cloud complexity was probably fairly easy to predict moving forward. We just built something that wasn’t there to deal with a problem that I think everybody was going to eventually see emerging.

Looking at leadership and defining: how we’re doing business innovation within the cloud computing world; how we’re doing cloud operation models and changing cloud cultures; providing the ability to optimize cloud-based implementations so we’re cost effective as well as being business effective—that’s a different level of play.

We look at what people are paying attention to. We look at where the trends are looking to go. And then, not only where the trends are going go in the short term, but where those trends are going to likely lead to in terms of solutions based on problems that we see occurring.

That’s a tougher thing to do, but it’s a fun thing to do. I’ve been doing it my entire career and we’re doing it as a firm of Deloitte.