Multicloud may not be easy, but the right strategy can unlock a wealth of new opportunities
Few companies today are still operating with a single cloud. Most are sourcing their cloud computing and storage services from more than one cloud service provider. In fact, with 89% of companies now following a multicloud strategy, multicloud has become the trending standard for cloud use today.
But why has multicloud become so prevalent? And what challenges must organizations negotiate to leverage multicloud successfully? The answers lie in understanding why multicloud has become such a popular approach, the effects of its rise and the requirements for getting it right.
The move to multicloud
Now that businesses have embraced the cloud for the speed, flexibility and scale it delivers to drive digital transformation, many are realizing that a single cloud may not meet all their unique needs. As a result, organizations have started to run workloads across multiple clouds. If they are sourcing cloud computing and storage services from more than one cloud service provider, they are operating a multicloud strategy. Most enterprises today take a hybrid multicloud approach, meaning they incorporate both private cloud and public cloud, but are sourcing their public cloud resources from multiple cloud service vendors.
The shift to multicloud can happen by accident. Companies may start using the services of one public cloud vendor while keeping sensitive assets on-premises, or they may end up using multiple public clouds to comply with the data storage requirements of regulations such as GDPR. Within companies, developers may use best-of-breed services across clouds. However, regardless of how they entered the multicloud world, companies are able to leverage the strategy for some very useful benefits.
The multicloud prize
The ideal multicloud strategy orchestrates across multiple cloud platforms to create a fully integrated, optimized IT infrastructure, reducing the limitations of a single cloud by removing operational and data silos, enhancing developer velocity, avoiding vendor lock-in and helping companies to optimize their cloud costs.
Businesses that master multicloud reinforce business continuity because they are not tied to one provider and can migrate workloads to an alternative service if one cloud service experiences latency issues or goes down. By preventing redundancy and downtime, they safeguard against potential losses in revenue, productivity, operational efficiency and reputation.
With access to vendor-agnostic services for core infrastructure and data, these companies can unlock the benefits of all clouds, inspiring cloud-native models that will boost operational resiliency substantially and provide new ways to deliver value.
As cloud providers focus more on approaches that reduce friction for companies seeking to leverage multiple cloud services, organizations can enjoy more opportunities to develop cloud-native applications with minimal architectural reliance on any particular cloud provider.
But it’s not quite that simple.
Multicloud is not a magic wand. Any organization hoping to unleash its potential and ultimately harness the cloud for transformative value must adopt and implement a carefully considered multicloud strategy. This is new territory for most companies, and without external expertise, it’s easy to end up with an unwieldy multicloud implementation.
The multicloud maze
It’s true that managing multiple cloud environments adds complexity to your cloud strategy. There is little standardization across current cloud services, so each service must be managed differently. Without proper controls, cloud sprawl and shadow IT (the use of applications that have not been approved by central IT) can creep in.
Issues arise when teams start using different public cloud providers, private cloud environments, edge cloud providers and data centers without a clear strategy or integration with other teams. Each environment involved will have an ecosystem of proprietary mechanisms for security, automation, training, analytics and disaster recovery. Each of these services could rely on a dedicated IT team, creating new silo structures that crush the very agility your move to the cloud was meant to enable.
Without a coherent approach to integrating cloud initiatives, companies can end up with a disjointed cloud implementation with multiple versions of the same application across more than one cloud. Trying to negotiate multicloud in this way reduces transparency and control and makes it difficult to ensure security. Having invested so much in their multicloud initiatives, struggling organizations may be left wondering how to navigate multicloud complexity to ensure the flexibility they need to remain competitive without compromising in other areas.
The answer lies in a cohesive multicloud strategy.
Many business and technology leaders are looking to multicloud to help them advance their digital game. Whether it delivers on that promise depends largely on their level of preparation.
To define the best approach to multicloud, businesses need to step back and review their company culture, DevOps practices and tech stack. Technologies like Google Cloud’s Anthos are designed to help you manage multiple clouds, but no single solution will resolve all the complexity that comes with an advanced multicloud approach. Companies will have to combine solutions to create a multicloud tech stack that meets their specific needs.
Having assessed their requirements and capabilities, any organization embracing multicloud needs to make plans aligned with its business and technological objectives. These plans should be tempered by realism: Multicloud is not a quick fix and won’t bring immediate transformation. People need time to adapt to new working methodologies and technologies. However, as you master the initial steps, the pace of progress will increase incrementally.
The future of multicloud
Companies with coherent multicloud strategies enjoy flexibility, access to best-of-breed products and services, enhanced resilience and opportunities for cost optimization. But adopting a multicloud approach in an ad-hoc manner with no clear objectives, planning or integration among your teams will make these benefits far more difficult to achieve.
For companies intent on mastering multicloud’s potential for growth, enlisting the support of a partner can be invaluable. A trusted multicloud expert can supply you with the kind of recommendations and solutions that ease your path to digital success.