Multicloud 101: Distinguishing between myths and reality

Migrating to the cloud has now become the norm with the latest statistics showing that 98% of companies are using the cloud in some capacity. Almost as many organisations (89%) have gone one step further and adopted a multicloud strategy to manage their workloads. Multicloud is increasingly transforming the way companies operate and, by extension, the way businesses function writ large.

Using multiple cloud providers to store and manage data comes with a host of benefits. Companies have the flexibility to choose the best features from each provider, allowing them to optimise their investment and save costs. They can also avoid vendor lock-in and have the capacity to spread the data across multiple applications. Implementing a multicloud strategy also means organisations are less likely to be impacted by a service outage – if one of the applications fails, organisations’ data can still be accessed via the other platforms, which minimises the costs associated with retrieving data, and reduces the risk of having to stop all activity while dealing with the problem. As such, moving to a multicloud strategy is vital for companies to improve performance and become more competitive.

Although multicloud is a very powerful approach, there still are a lot of challenges that businesses must be aware of in order to make sure they are ready to embrace it successfully. It’s important to remind business leaders of the myths and facts around multicloud to ensure they implement a solid strategy that isn’t simply based on common misconceptions.

Fact: Businesses can maximise productivity and minimise costs by moving to multicloud

Today’s difficult economic times mean that organisations must adapt in order to remain competitive. With rising costs, high inflation and hiring freezes, business leaders are doing their best to boost productivity, minimise costs and maximise ROI.

This is where multicloud environments can help, as organisations can rely on several specialist providers and combine multiple cloud applications, each with a different focus and area of expertise, to best meet their objectives. Having the option to choose from several service providers helps maximise productivity and is vital to help businesses navigate the changing economic landscape. 

Adopting a multicloud strategy also gives companies the possibility to extend their networks and develop more connections between their services. Overall, this helps enhance the user and employee experience. In VMWare’s The Multi-Cloud Maturity Index, 99% of organisations reveal they have benefited a lot from adopting a multicloud strategy, with 45% saying it enhances employee flexibility, 41% reporting an increased ability to innovate, and 40% mentioning how it helps to get apps into production faster. As a result, companies are more competitive and can position themselves as true leaders in their industry.

Now that companies have the option to use several cloud providers, they can spend time comparing features and pricing models offered by the different providers to choose the most cost-efficient solutions that best respond to their needs while saving costs.

Myth: It’s safer to use multicloud than one single cloud provider

At first glance, multicloud strategies may seem less risky than using a single cloud provider because businesses can pick the most secure provider for their needs. But it turns out that adding another cloud platform to an existing business environment brings many potential security risks that companies must be aware of. Storing and managing data on multiple servers means businesses are extending the threat perimeter and giving cyber-attackers more entry points to their network. Cyber-attackers are well aware of the new opportunities they have thanks to multicloud, so companies must consider new security tools to increase protection, and help with access, security key and workload management when moving to multicloud.

Research from Gartner shows that 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault by 2025. So, before being able to fully embrace multicloud environments, businesses must first focus on raising vulnerability awareness and developing a sense of collective responsibility amongst their workforces. The question is not whether or not adopting a multicloud strategy is a safe practice, but whether organisations know how to use such innovative tech securely. It’s key for businesses to implement a security strategy with clear guidelines on how best to protect sensitive data and mitigate security risks.

Fact: Developing workers’ cloud skills must be at the heart of a multicloud strategy

Clearly, it’s harder for companies to monitor and secure all cloud platforms at the same time, which creates more vulnerabilities for cyber-attackers to exploit. Due to the rising security threat associated with multicloud environments, businesses are required to multiply the maintenance efforts needed to keep the network secure. But the ongoing tech skills shortage is a big challenge for companies. Business leaders are struggling to recruit workers with the cloud skills they need to properly navigate these environments. While cloud has now become a key tool to help organisations transform digitally, tech workers are falling behind when it comes to learning new cloud technologies.

To address this, companies must prioritise investing in upskilling employees so that they have the sufficient skills to maximise the potential of the technology. There is currently a significant gap between leaders’ expectations in terms of cloud strategy and what technologists are actually able to execute. Pluralsight’s 2023 State of Cloud Report reveals that while 62% of UK business leaders expect their cloud budget to increase over the next 12 months, only 8% have a dedicated cloud skills development programme.

Prioritising cloud skills will be key to multicloud success. Offering training to build in-demand skills in house is as important as investing in new technology. Technology doesn’t grow a business, people do, so putting employee growth at the heart of the business will drive innovation, increase competitiveness and generate growth.

The takeaway

Moving to multicloud comes with a host of benefits, as well as challenges. When navigating multicloud environments, companies expose themselves to many security risks. In order to fully benefit from the technology and increase productivity while keeping costs down, businesses must have a clear strategy in place. They must compare all cloud applications to ensure they get the best features from every provider – this is vital to designing a cloud strategy that best responds to their needs. Investing in talent is also key to implementing a successful cloud strategy. Having a highly-skilled tech workforce is still the most effective way for organisations to optimise their investments, securely embrace multicloud and prepare for the future.

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Drew Firment, Chief Cloud Strategist at Pluralsight

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