The complexity of managing multiple clouds
As businesses transform to operate with more speed and agility, new challenges arise for managing hybrid infrastructures, especially when multiple cloud environments are involved. Many IT leaders are working through how to handle these challenges. In fact, a recent study indicated that 67% of organizations use more than one public cloud provider.
Managing the complexity of hybrid multicloud environments is one of the key challenges of digital transformation. Even more specifically, the ability to effectively monitor and manage end-to-end IT operations has proven to be no easy task, with only 20% of surveyed IT leaders indicating that they can do it well.
By adopting a new cloud operating model, it’s possible to balance agility with control and pave a clear path to multicloud management. An effective cloud operating model can provide access to services and tools at the speed companies need, while also maintaining the control IT organizations require — particularly for cost, usage and performance. Through a combination of managed cloud services and an open, secure multicloud management platform that takes advantage of automation, enterprises can ensure cloud governance, compliance, consistency and visibility across the IT environment while improving the end-user experience.
BRF has had success implementing such a cloud model. One of the largest producers of fresh and frozen foods in the world, the company is expanding internationally at a fast pace. Transforming with cloud is a big part of its strategy. “BRF’s cloud journey started in 2016, when [Kyndryl, formerly IBM Infrastructure Services] delivered our first move-to-cloud project in Brazil,” says Robson Leal de Oliveira, Cloud Architect at BRF. “We moved 100 servers from our on-premises infrastructure to IBM Cloud.”
But because of regulations within Brazil, the company had to look globally for continued expansion. So in 2014, it began acquiring companies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The IT infrastructures of these new companies needed to work seamlessly with BRF’s IT infrastructure. Managing the complexity of multiple private and public clouds coming together as a single system was the main challenge.
“We needed to undergo a technology transformation,” explains Leal de Oliveira. “Cloud technology and services have been critical to that. Then we had to find a way to govern the cost and usage of multiple cloud environments.” BRF had migrated more than 70% of its applications to the cloud. But with assets in Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud, and in the private cloud with VMware, it realized that its manual IT cost-tracking processes were time consuming and inefficient.
“Our strategy for managing our multicloud environment centers on a ‘cloud first’ strategy,” explains Leal de Oliveira. “So, we wanted a solution that consolidates our cloud asset tracking into a single pane of glass view to help us reduce costs and the time it takes to generate internal invoices. We needed this solution to be focused enough to track assets within individual departments and cost centers, but also broad enough to track public and private cloud costs across the globe. That’s when we decided to use the Cost and Asset Management application of the [Kyndryl] Multicloud Management Platform.”
“Cost and Asset Management lets us manage and see all of our public and private cloud costs and assets in an automated fashion within a single consolidated dashboard.”
- Robson Leal de Oliveira Cloud Architect, BRF Global
A single platform for cost optimization
To get its multicloud complexity under control, BRF participated in a three-day workshop with Kyndryl, using Design Thinking methodologies. Together, they mapped out BRF’s cloud management pain points and generated a plan that gives the company ongoing visibility into its cloud assets and current and projected costs.
That’s where the Kyndryl Multicloud Management Platform comes in. “Cost and Asset Management lets us manage and see all of our public and private cloud costs and assets in an automated fashion within a single consolidated dashboard,” says Leal de Oliveira. “This has allowed us to refocus the business on informed decision-making. Now we can track costs and compare that to monthly budgets. We can also see our projected cloud spend for the months ahead. This provides ongoing visibility to help our IT operations and finance managers maximize our IT investments.”
For example, Cost and Asset Management can identify an asset by service provider, business area, environment, application, business region or cost center. This helps BRF’s IT finance managers reduce lead times to consolidate and distribute departmental costs across the organization. The company can also view the spend in local currency, thanks to a currency conversion feature.
Taking things a step further, the Kyndryl solution shows asset usage compared to asset cost. “We use a ‘heat map’ to make strategic business decisions about removing underused assets or investing in more cost-effective systems based on need,” adds Leal de Oliveira.
Unprecedented visibility and control
BRF has realized significant benefits from its ability to manage its multicloud complexity. Its cloud strategy lets it easily connect the IT infrastructures of the companies it has acquired to its own infrastructure in a standardized, automated format. It has also streamlined the way it predicts possible asset cost deviation.
“Prior to using the Cost and Asset Management tool, we managed our cloud costs and usage with a manual process that was long and cumbersome,” says Leal de Oliveira. “[Kyndryl’s] solution automates that process, and all the data is in one place and accessible from a single console. This frees up our IT organization to focus on better business decisions and innovation for the business. So that is a big win.”
Since using the Kyndryl Cost and Asset Management solution for about a year, BRF has brought 20,000 cloud assets into the tool. That translates to about USD 1.6 million of its cloud costs being managed per month using the Kyndryl Multicloud Management Platform. In addition, it has reduced the lead time to consolidate, distribute and verify department costs across its IT organization by 85%, from days instead of weeks.
The increased visibility and control leads to improved management and efficiency, which opens up the opportunity for future investments. BRF is planning to expand in the Middle East and Asia. On the technology front, the company is looking at transforming its factories using containerization, DevOps, and backup and resiliency services.
“For example, we are currently working with the [Kyndryl] team to use Kubernetes and other cloud solutions to deploy various chatbots and automate our production,” concludes Leal de Oliveira. “It’s exciting to see new geographies being brought into this successful initiative, and the expansion of technology transformation to the front lines of IT management. We’ve worked together on many successful projects over these past eight years; it’s a great partnership.”