A growing number of businesses are moving their data and core applications to the cloud. Whether it’s a ‘lift and shift’ or re-platforming, we see that businesses are adopting the cloud at a much faster rate than ever before.
However, organisations are quickly realising that a singular cloud solution cannot serve their future needs, leading to the growth of multi-cloud as a key strategy for many enterprises in 2018. In fact, Gartner predicts that a multi-cloud approach will become the status quo for 70 percent of enterprises by 2019, up from less than 10 percent currently.
increased reliability and uptime are advantageous attributes, but managing a number of cloud environments can result in IT staff being spread too thin.
However, navigating the multi-cloud trend should come with a healthy awareness of both the merits and challenges of moving to this kind of environment. While greater flexibility is a plus, a multi-cloud approach can increase overhead costs as it splits an organisation’s workload across multiple providers. At the same time, increased reliability and uptime are advantageous attributes, but managing a number of cloud environments can result in IT staff being spread too thin.
With two schools of thought, organisations should evaluate the key pros and cons to ensure their multi-cloud deployment is a success:
Pro #1: Determine which provider offers the best performance
As enterprises grow increasingly wary about being “locked in” to a single legacy solution, evaluating and implementing a multi-cloud environment can help organisations assess which provider offers the best performance and support for their company’s particular situation. By way of example, GE re-aligned its cloud hosting strategy to leverage both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, with the intention to understand the best performing hosting environment and to see which contract provided the lowest cost to pass to their customers. Ultimately, using this means that organisations can trial and choose between best-in-class technologies from various providers to ensure they acquire the best solution for their business, at the best price.
Con #1: Reduced buying power and increased overhead costs
However, a multi-cloud strategy could diminish the buying power of an organisation. If a company is splitting what they buy across multiple providers, they will not be able to benefit from economies of scale; essentially, a company may find itself buying less at a higher price. Added to this, overhead costs may increase as IT teams work with multiple cloud providers, instead of just focusing on one cloud platform.
Pro #2: Open to options
A multi-cloud approach gives organisations increased flexibility as the IT department has the freedom to design the most suitable cloud to meet their requirements. For instance, one cloud vendor may offer greater security controls that are not supported by other options on the market, while another vendor may have superior high availability architecture. In essence, when using multiple clouds, organisations have the flexibility to choose the best deployment option for a wide variety of enterprise IT workloads, taking the best bits from each of these clouds to help them meet business outcomes.
Con #2: Management and operational challenges
The complexity of different cloud environments can quickly become a challenge, especially as getting to grips with a single cloud platform takes a substantial amount of dedicated time and resource; this manpower could potentially be funnelled into other aspects of the business, such as creating new IT features and customer support. What’s more, if a multi-cloud environment is not monitored and controlled properly, operational issues will start to accumulate, in turn creating obstacles when it comes to maintaining access control and security updates. As such, an effective multi-cloud environment requires plenty of planning and resource allocation as internal developer teams need to learn multiple platforms and have additional governance processes in place, depending on the different environments they have to support.
Pro #3: Business continuity and reduced downtime
Using just one cloud platform for your business could be risky, as the majority of data is stored in one place. Fortunately, with a multi-cloud strategy, in the event that one cloud platform fails to respond or is unable to deliver optimal performance, applications can be run on an alternative cloud option. Considering reliability and uptime are essential elements to every business, reducing the likelihood of downtime in this way can boost the overall productivity and performance of an organisation.
Con #3: Security concerns
Security is a big part of the cloud conversation and this naturally bleeds into the multi-cloud debate, not least because the cloud is growing as a destination for sensitive data. The increasing complexity brought about by multiple clouds has the potential to create a greater risk of security issues, especially if the multi-cloud environment is not managed properly and if security updates are not handled correctly. On the other hand, multiple clouds can actually alleviate the risk of widespread data loss and downtime due to hardware failures. With a clever combination of multiple clouds, organisations can actually secure data in a private cloud and operate other areas of the business in a public cloud environment.
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With evidence pointing to a rise in multi-cloud adoption in 2018, organisations will have to manoeuvre through the nuances of this approach by measuring how much of each cloud platform is adopted, the internal usage, and the cost of workload demands and implementation. Getting to the right solution for your company begins by carefully considering both the pros and cons of this trend.