Is multi-cloud the right approach for you?

Is multi-cloud the right approach for you?

While the advantages seem numerous, there are a few challenges. Here’s an overview of the situation to help you plan a pragmatic strategy.

The evolution of cloud to the next level has already begun. Enterprises around the world are increasingly exploring the multi-cloud architecture. Multi-cloud architecture refers to the use of two or more public or private cloud services sourced from different cloud service providers.

On the face of it, it makes sense for an organisation to go with a single cloud service provider who would offer applications, compute and storage, as it is likely to get a better deal from a cost and service perspective. But enterprises today are looking at speed, agility and flexibility while responding to changing business needs. In such a scenario an immensely flexible and diversified approach such as multi-cloud makes sense, as organisations can switch from one service provider to another and move their workloads around based on their various requirements, which could include performance, cost, and speed. The idea is to ensure that enterprises avail of the best in class cloud services for each workload while being free to innovate on applications.

If one were to analyse the various benefits of a multi-cloud approach here’s how they stack up.

Choice and flexibility
These would be the prime considerations for opting for a multi-cloud architecture. It allows you to choose your service provider for various workloads based on merit. Rigid and legacy processes can prove to be a major stumbling block when organisation’s are trying to be agile and deliver products faster. A multi-cloud approach can help circumvent processes and save time.

Greater IT infra resiliency
When you have multiple service providers your workloads can be still up and running when one of them experiences an incident, whether it is downtime or a DDoS attack. During any of these events it should be possible to quickly shift services from one cloud to another. It’s another issue that multi-cloud can have its own security and risk concerns. We’ll come to that a little later.

Performance and cost optimisation
Due to the choice multi-cloud allows it’s possible to evaluate various propositions and go for the services that suit your company best, from a performance standpoint. In this scenario you are essentially matching each workload with the cloud environment that suits it the best. Given the highly competitive nature of the cloud market you can negotiate better deals from each service provider you choose to go with.

No single vendor dependency
One of the issues that IT leaders have always been wary of is putting everything into one basket. Here it means getting locked in with a single vendor or service provider. In many cases the disadvantages of a single service provider may outweigh the advantages and your dependency on the provider may set you back in your goals. Multi-cloud provides a way out of this conundrum.

Complying to certain regulatory regimes might require organisations to host certain workloads within a particular geography. GDPR could be one example where organisations might want to host their storage and data processing in a cloud located in the European Union, particularly when the data is related to transactions with customers in that region. Hosting services in local clouds will also help organisations respond faster to customers’ needs within those regions.

Many see multi-cloud as the approach to pursue moving forward. According to various reports, about 80 per cent of cloud adopters around the world have already transitioned to a multi-cloud architecture or are in the process of doing so. However, it’s also important to pause and take a look at the cons that come with this approach.

Management complexity
Multi-cloud is about having workloads spread across servers that are located in multiple locations and managed by different services providers. This can result in complexity and throw up challenges in cloud governance, network management and security. Unless you have a framework to manage all these issues you might not reap the potential benefits of a multi-cloud architecture that include flexibility, agility, performance and costs.

Risk and security
Multi-cloud might give the option to switch service providers in the event of an incident or disruption with one service provider. But, remember, you are functioning in a distributed environment and that requires you to factor in the increased risk element. Identity and access management and end point security are all causes for concern. You will need to review your security policy and put a framework in place that addresses the specific risks encountered in a multi-cloud environment.

Cloud skills
Multi-cloud will need specialised skills across various areas that include cloud infrastructure and applications. It needs people who are proficient in managing various types of clouds. Finding these skills is hard and not having highly trained personnel could impact performance.

To conclude, multi-clouds provide numerous advantages while bringing with them a few challenges. These can be overcome through meticulous planning, leading to a pragmatic strategy that helps address all critical concerns while making the most of the advantages offered by multi-cloud, such as flexibility, agility, performance, and cost optimisation. Today, a number of technology providers offer multi-cloud management frameworks. A word of caution though. Evaluate them to understand their suitability for your requirements and business objectives before you finalise on one.