For the last few years, much of the industry buzz surrounding cloud computing has centred on hybrid cloud, with the vast majority of businesses adopting a mix of public and private services. If you accept that hybrid cloud is the dominant industry environment then the next logical step is multi-cloud, with businesses combining multiple public, private and managed clouds depending on their bespoke business needs. In order to fully commit to a multi-cloud infrastructure, however, businesses will need to overcome some challenges, notably those surrounding management and integration.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The next step is multi-cloud, with businesses combining multiple public, private and managed clouds” hashtags=”MultiCloud”]

Before businesses start thinking about which vendors to work with they must first decide whether multi-cloud computing is right for them. Many organisations are switching to a multi-cloud architecture because a single cloud approach just isn’t specialised enough for their business needs. Modern enterprises have varied requirements, some of which will be extremely complex, and so running multiple clouds lets businesses avoid a jack of all trades, master of none approach. With a multi-cloud approach each offering can be mapped to a specific business process.

The move to a multi-cloud approach is also hardly surprising given that each of the different cloud models provides its own distinct benefits. The variety of different cloud vendors is also now so broad that it often makes sense for firms to handpick a number of different cloud solutions. Organisations that face particularly stringent regulatory pressure may also suit a multi-cloud architecture, as will companies with a loose business-unit structure wishing to unite disparate cloud resources.

One of the most effective ways to simplify a multi-cloud architecture is to make it look as though each cloud service comes from a single supplier

However, in order for businesses to avoid financial and management issues relating to multi-cloud architecture they must first undertake careful planning. Often the first consideration is which kind of cloud model will be the basis for your multi-cloud architecture. Deciding between software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) may be determined by you existing cloud vendor or an assessment of your applications and IT systems.

Once that’s been determined, businesses should begin matching their business applications to the most suitable cloud vendor. Important considerations include not only the features and benefits of each provider, but also the cost. Businesses need to evaluate the price of each cloud service, as well as possible integration costs and whether it makes financial sense to move the application to the cloud at all.

One of the most effective ways to simplify a multi-cloud architecture is to make it look as though each cloud service comes from a single supplier. APIs may enable businesses to control multiple clouds with the same tools, while external management tools may provide further standardisation. What’s more, many businesses are using a single colocation provider to host their private cloud stacks, while simultaneously giving them direct and fast access into the large public clouds. A recent survey found that 45 per cent of businesses expect to use 3rd party colocation providers to help host their multi-cloud solutions in this way.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The diversity of the #cloud landscape may actually increase, as vendors become more specialised” hashtags=”MultiCloud”]

Although multi-cloud architecture is beginning to gain traction in the business environment, it is still in its early stages, which means that many exciting developments are still to come. Much is being made of the cloud vendor landscape consolidating, but it is unlikely that the major cloud players are going to be going anywhere anytime soon. However, the market is evolving in such a way that there will remain a place for innovative new players. The diversity of the cloud service landscape may actually increase, as vendors become more specialised and focused on increasingly niche market sectors. This will provide organisations with greater choice than ever before, allowing them to pick and choose their services to create a cloud strategy that is optimised for all their business processes.

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  I try to simplify and raise awareness of what cloud computing can do for enterprises, and help them adopt the right Cloud solutions for their business. Honoured to be ranked #27 in Onalytica's 2016 list of Top 100 Cloud Influencers on Social Media As a Scot I adhere to the stereotype of being pretty direct and honest, but I like to think most people prefer it that way. Specialties: - Cloud Computing Strategy - Evangelism and Social Media awareness - IaaS / PaaS / SaaS - Public / Private / Hybrid Cloud - Cloud Sales Enablement Tweet Gordon at @GordOnCloud