The developments around cloud computing just seem to keep coming. With the cloud computing market expected to reach $411 billion by 2020 according to Gartner, the sheer degree of adoption is massive. For organizations, the world over experiencing challenges of market dynamism, competition, and customer demands, cloud computing is helping them to be responsive and relevant. With cloud computing spending expected to grow at 6 times the rate of IT spending from now through 2020 according to Gartner (again!), there is a high likelihood that you will, sooner or later, consider moving to the cloud (i.e. if you haven’t already!) When you decide to migrate to the cloud to streamline your processes, boost collaboration, and increase accessibility, you will come across a variety of cloud models such as private, public, community or hybrid, and cloud offerings such as IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, as well as cloud architectures such as the multi-cloud. So what is the multi-cloud?
The Growth of Multi-cloud
As cloud computing becomes more and more mainstream, the introduction of new and innovative cloud technologies is inevitable. Although cloud computing started with the placing of workloads on a single cloud – whether private or public – the hybrid cloud quickly became a more attractive option because it gave enterprises more choice over storing their critical and not-so-critical data.
Soon enough, more and more vendors got into the public cloud business – starting with Amazon, and then Google and Microsoft, and now several others as well. Each has their own set of features and capabilities. Organizations were soon spoilt for choice. With such a variety of viable public cloud options, enterprises began to mix them together, both through formal architectural processes and through shadow IT. This signaled the emergence of Multi-cloud strategies.
A lot of times, the terms multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are used interchangeably. But the fact is, they are quite unlike each other.
- While the hybrid cloud usually consists of a combination of a private and public cloud, the multi-cloud uses more than a single public cloud
- A hybrid cloud environment refers to different deployment modes (public or private), while a multi-cloud environment refers to services from multiple cloud providers.
- The multi-cloud enables organizations to avoid dependence on a single public cloud provider – so they can choose to opt for specific services from different public cloud providers and get the best of all their features and benefits.
When is multi-cloud strategy Right for You?
A typical multi-cloud infrastructure allows for the distribution of cloud assets, software, applications, and resources across several cloud-hosting environments. With a typical multi-cloud architecture utilizing two or more public clouds (and in many cases multiple private clouds as well), the reliance on any single cloud provider is eliminated. The benefits of a multi-cloud architecture include choosing price-competitive and feature-rich cloud services from different providers, avoiding vendor lock-in, improved mitigation against disasters, and increasing performance and redundancy.
Many organizations think they can multiply benefits from multi-cloud environments (with the assumption that if they can benefit from one cloud, benefits will multiply if they use multiple clouds!). But that’s not always the case. It’s not all straight-forward though -there are some specific factors to consider too. Although many businesses can benefit from it, especially those looking to improve reliability, protect privacy, remain flexible, and optimize the cloud experience, a multi-cloud environment is not for all organizations. A multi-cloud strategy makes sense only if:
- You operate in countries where laws, regulations and corporate policies require enterprise data to physically reside in certain locations. For example, a healthcare organization can choose from multiple providers’ data center regions or availability zones to improve performance and reduce latency.
- Your business and technical goals require you to leverage price-competitive cloud services. For instance, an automobile manufacturer can take advantage of the speed, capacity, and cost benefits of the storage and workload requirements offered by a particular cloud provider in a particular geography.
- Your business relies on critical data where data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in the cloud can have severe consequences. For example, a stock exchange can leverage a multi-cloud environment to ensure round-the-clock availability of data, reduce the likelihood of data loss, or shutdown, and eliminate business interruptions.
- You operate in a business environment where responding quickly to changing business requirements is critical for business survival. For instance, retailers who experience sudden spikes in demand during the holiday season can accommodate unexpected surges and meet demands in a more flexible and reliable manner.
Make the Most of Multi-cloud
In a world of constantly changing business requirements and customer preferences, organizations have to embrace the cloud in order to thrive and grow. Deciding to move to the cloud can be critical in improving business flexibility and agility. In that situation, choosing a multi-cloud environment can allow you to get the best features of multiple cloud service providers -a win-win all around.