Multi-cloud has become somewhat of a buzzword in the technology industry over the last couple of years, with some research indicating that 81% of enterprises are investigating or actively pursuing a multi-cloud strategy.
Each company has its own business and technical drivers for moving to a multi-cloud strategy, and they are tailoring solutions specifically to their own specific needs. Multi-cloud allows enterprises to deliver services across both private and public clouds, which enables them to host their workloads in the most appropriate location whilst providing a consistent security approach. All of this is good, and there are many benefits to multi-cloud, but it also presents challenges that need to be considered.
One of the main benefits of implementing a multi-cloud strategy is the flexibility it offers. It allows businesses to be creative whilst using the right set of services to optimise their opportunities. As with all businesses, the public cloud providers cannot be masters in all areas of services and capability, and the various providers have now started to create their own focus areas, where they have particular strength or reference ability. Adopting a multi-cloud strategy enables an enterprise to benefit from this differentiation between providers and implement a “best of breed” model for the services that they as a business need to consume.
Another key reason businesses are turning to multi-cloud is in order to avoid vendor lock-in. Research found that more than 80% of organisations have high levels of concern about being locked into a single public cloud platform. For many companies, avoiding vendor lock-in is a core requirement and a way to achieve flexibility for their applications. By ensuring they are not locked into a single vendor, businesses can remain able to adapt their strategy when industry revolutions emerge.
The ability for organisations to choose the vendor that offers the best price for the workload they have is another major advantage of multi-cloud. Data storage can be costly and businesses can often end up spending a lot of money on this. With multi-cloud, enterprises are in a strong position to be able to take advantage of any price fluctuations to move their data to the provider that offers the best price, enabling the enterprise to better manage the cost models for their workloads.
Despite there being numerous benefits to multi-cloud strategy, there are some challenges that need to be addressed. Using services from multiple providers can get complicated and it can become difficult to manage. Each provider has a different set up process and failing to manage them all correctly could affect a business’s agility. There are a new breed of platform-independent tools that are developing to resolve this, but this in turn can add to the overall cost, and whichever solution is implemented, thorough planning and a deep understanding of the applications and providers would be required.
Due to the different architectures involved in public cloud, multi-cloud does come with additional security concerns, and it is crucial that all providers involved are efficiently coordinated. Threat detection and prevention tools need to be able to seamlessly share security information in order to work together to address any threats that may occur, regardless of when and where. Organisations need to understand the security requirements for each workload and architect their overall solution to allow for this variety. This will also feed into the overall design as to where certain workloads are able to reside, both from a public/private cloud perspective but also with regards to geographic boundaries and the physical location of the workloads (data sovereignty).
Another potential concern with multi-cloud is the possibility of reduction in the purchasing power of a business, making it more difficult to track costs. As multiple service providers are involved, costs are divided between them which means that businesses’ ability to benefit from cost advantages could be reduced. In all likelihood the public cloud providers will adapt to a multi-cloud future and their pricing models will evolve as their customers purchasing habits change.
With research suggesting that there will be a significant rise in multi-cloud adoption, it is important that businesses consider both the advantages and challenges in order to fully take advantage of the benefits that could be realised from a multi-cloud strategy. Careful planning and thought is required in order to achieve consistent and effective security and compliance, and this may necessitate the use of additional tools and management platforms. Today, employee and staff training should be considered to fully understand the impact of a multi-cloud strategy, and by undertaking this preparation work, enterprises will be able to mitigate many of the potential pitfalls that could be hit.
Finally, having clear control of your budget is another point to consider when choosing a multi-cloud strategy. Ensuring cloud spends are monitored and do not spiral out of control will ensure that efficiency within businesses can be maximised to its full potential.
Ultimately more and more organisations are turning to multi-cloud strategies to help make the most of the advantages they offer. We look forward to seeing the future of multi-cloud and more businesses adopting the strategy in order to achieve their digital transformation needs.
Chris is an experienced CTO with over 20 years’ working in the networking industry. His focus is on enabling Axians customers to accelerate the success of transformation initiatives through the adoption of new and emerging technologies and solutions.