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Understanding the Benefits and Limitations of Multi-cloud



Your organization has a digital first mindset and has migrated to the cloud - two, in fact! You did it in record time and are reaping the benefits of being in the cloud as well as your on-premises operations. Now you find yourself with not just a hybrid cloud environment but a multi-cloud environment. You are not alone.


Organizations are increasingly deploying and implementing cloud services in an effort to trade capital expense for variable operational expense, to benefit from massive economies of scale, to increase speed and agility, and to accelerate innovation across their organizations. According to the 2022 State of the Cloud report from Flexera, the cloud strategy conversation has shifted to from public and hybrid cloud deployments to multi-cloud.


A multi-cloud strategy was deployed by a full 89% of respondents, with 80% having employed a hybrid cloud strategy, 9% having deployed a single public cloud, and just 2% deploying a single private cloud in place. Thus, the most common approach to the cloud is a combination of various public and private clouds. All of these hybrid perspectives can pose a problem for IT organizations that are siloed in their approach to IT management.


There are a wide range of benefits to modern enterprises focused on optimizing hybrid IT, including the rightsizing of cloud environments, leveraging consumption intelligence data, to plan migrations and options when it comes to cloud vendor selection. Security, managing cloud spend, and a lack of resources or expertise are still the top challenges for today’s enterprise. Not understanding current cloud trends can serve to undermine your organization’s digital business decision-making processes, put data privacy and protection at risk, and ensure a catastrophic cloud journey.


 

Hybrid versus Multi-cloud


In 2012, I first wrote about cloud computing. Like today, there were a good number of confusing cloud definitions. Simply put, a private cloud is one that is enterprise owned or leased and is typically on-premises. A public cloud leverages economies of scale and is sold to the public, owned and operated by a provider, and shares resources over multiple tenants.


While some organizations are cloud native and reside entirely in the cloud, many deploy a mix of private and public cloud services, which is known as a hybrid cloud. In a hybrid cloud architecture, services cross isolation and provider boundaries, making it appear as if the public cloud is an extension of the private cloud or data center. The hybrid approach allows an organization to extend their capacity and capabilities of the cloud service to the private cloud.


Multi-cloud extends the idea of the hybrid cloud further through the use of multiple cloud computing and storage services from multiple vendors in a single heterogeneous architecture; again, allowing for the extension of capacity and capabilities of the cloud to the enterprise. Ultimately, multi-cloud refers to the distribution of cloud assets, software, and applications across several cloud-hosting environments (e.g., IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) in support of business objectives.

 

Multi-cloud benefits


A multi-cloud approach presents organizations with a multitude of benefits. From the ability to tailor their approach, which helps to drive innovation, avoid vendor lock-in, create a more resilient architecture, enhance risk management, meet CCPA and GDRP compliance requirements, improve flexibility and scalability, and increase platform performance.


Multiple clouds allow an organization the ability to select the cloud provider that best aligns with both an organization’s IT strategy and, more importantly, business goals. This tailors the approach to the organization’s needs. For example, you can select a cloud provider based on their ability to provide a specific service like email or suite of office applications, while another provider can provide a more robust Machine Learning environment for your Data Science team. By having multiple cloud options, a higher level of agility may be achieved, matching each part of a business requirement to a specific provider's offering. Instead of bending your processes to accommodate a provider's requirements, you have greater options from which to choose, each offering the best match for different parts of your business, and ultimately, helping to drive innovation.


Vendor lock-in occurs when you build an application or service on a single platform. There are many examples of vendor lock-in such as dealing with traditional enterprise companies, but for me, Oracle comes to mind. The freedom to select from multiple vendors, whether open source, traditional or capitalize on niche specialist providers, is a compelling argument.


By opting for a multi-cloud approach from the start, developers can work to deploy best of breed solutions that function across a variety of platforms. This means that you’ll always have the flexibility to take advantage of the best prices or capabilities from differing vendors, without compromising on what you can offer your users and customers.


To prevent outages from impacting critical systems, it requires redundant architectures that are often too expensive for most organizations to deploy. A multi-cloud strategy offers organizations improved security, better failover, and enhanced disaster recovery options that are far more affordable. A multi-cloud architecture can offer redundant backup and recovery capabilities that safeguard critical business applications. Adding a multi-cloud piece to your disaster recovery strategy provides a much-needed level of reliability and security by offering an ability to replicate your resources to an out of region data center.


Multi-cloud providers can help organizations mitigate risk by employing redundant systems that offer robust authentication mechanisms, compute and storage, as well as API asset consolidation. Ultimately, the best way to ensure a robust risk management system is to implement a multi-layered security approach.

 

Multi-cloud challenges


There are many more benefits to the multi-cloud approach than can be covered in a single blog entry. But there are also some challenges associated with this approach, so be aware that multi-cloud management is not completely free of limitations.


Multi-cloud is great for forward thinking organizations wanting to work with best-of-breed cloud applications and services, and those who consider innovation critical to their business success. However, many find that deploying services that cost only pennies can quickly add up and can result in increased, unplanned spending.


Labor markets are very tight today, and finding cloud expertise is almost as difficult and expensive as finding a cybersecurity expert. Multi-cloud management requires specific expertise to deal with the added complexity, often requiring multiple resources to ensure an organization’s environment remains highly available and secure.


Cybersecurity provides significant challenges for organizations who maintain their data in on-premises data centers. The complexity in housing critical business data in multiple data centers and cloud environments makes protecting data significantly more challenging.

 

Developing a multi-cloud approach can be a tremendous benefit for organizations that rely on cloud infrastructure for critical infrastructure. Multi-cloud management is crucial to how organizations grow their cloud footprint, adding new applications and services to their IT environments. The gap between business demand and IT’s capacity to deliver continues to increase and the labor markets add to the complexity.


OBV can help you realize the benefits of operating in a multi-cloud environment more quickly and efficiently than you could on your own.


Join the conversation - leave your thoughts at the comments section below.

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