The future is multi-cloud, but getting there isn't easy

To truly take advantage of a multi-cloud platform, businesses need to prepare themselves thoroughly before adopting one.

Multi-cloud has been discussed within the cloud computing industry for a while, but there is still confusion and disagreement about what it is. What most can agree on is that multi-cloud is about mixing and matching the best-in-class technologies and services from different cloud providers to create the best possible solution for a business. This flexibility is what will define the industry in the coming years allowing organisations to leverage the relative advantages, price-points and geographic locations of the solutions to their best advantage. However, the transition to a multi-cloud solution can be fraught with risks if improperly managed. As a result, enterprises looking to gain advantage through this technology are seeking expert help in the form of third party managed service providers.

Increasingly, individual cloud providers are finding it difficult to meet the complex requirements of their clients. A recent Dimensional Research survey of more than 650 IT decision-makers found that 77 percent of businesses are planning to implement multi-cloud architectures within 2 years. This large-scale acceptance that multi-cloud will play a large role in the near-future indicates a shift in how organisations are interacting with their vendors. It is no longer just a question of who is the best overall, but who is the best at different things. It also demonstrates that the benefits of multi-cloud are far from industry specific. 

Advantages of multi-cloud

Multi-cloud platforms provide a number of advantages over traditional single-vendor strategies, chief among them is the ability to leverage the most appropriate unique cloud-services from multiple different providers at any given time. Not only does this allow enterprises to remain dynamic, but enables them to reduce cost and stream each cloud to one that best fits the business. The ability to prioritise different business areas in accordance with their broader strategy is a benefit unique to multi-cloud solutions. In such a fast-paced world, organisations will be glad of the option to quickly adapt to changes in the landscape without reworking their business-wide cloud architecture to suit a new vendor.   

This type of solution also allows companies to take advantage of the public cloud, whose low-cost and unlimited scalability make it an excellent engine to move agile applications away from legacy Enterprise Resource Planning systems. A key aspect of the public cloud that makes it so attractive to IT decision-makers is that all hardware and maintenance costs are absorbed by the provider, providing a low-cost and, by extension, low-risk solution to enterprises looking to begin their move into the cloud. Opting for this inexpensive alternative to a private infrastructure does not, however, sacrifice potential computing power. Public cloud solutions are highly elastic, affording businesses the option to rapidly upscale their usage in line with demand.

The phrase “don’t place all your eggs in one basket” is equally applicable to cloud environments. To spread risk across multiple platforms minimises the possibility of downtime, as processes can failover to other systems, as well as being able to be make the most of public cloud cost-savings without being locked into one vendor. 

Getting to destination multi-cloud isn’t easy

Moving to a multi-cloud solution can be challenging if you do not have an experienced in-house IT team to keep on top of it all. Multiple clouds elevate the complexity of the operation at a time where understanding of the cloud is still varied among CIOs. Moreover, managing cloud services takes up time and IT resources which could be better spent elsewhere in the business, such as creating new features and supporting customers. 

Many organisations are therefore turning to a managed cloud services provider to assist them with their multi-cloud solution. A trusted partner can guide a business through the challenging process of setting up their solution, ensuring that they not only use the best-in-class technology but that they also use it in the right ways. There is plenty of reward to be had from a multi-cloud strategy, but implementing it can pose risks for the uninitiated. Moving to a multi-cloud solution, whilst challenging, should be seen as an opportunity. Making the most of it requires a partner that is willing to tailor a business’s solution to match their unique requirements.

Long-term management and maintenance of the multi-cloud deployment can be carried out by the provider, which gives the benefit of round-the-clock support to ensure any issues are promptly resolved. 

The future of the multi-cloud

A study conducted by IDC last year found that 86 percent of enterprises predict they will require a multi-cloud strategy to support their business goals within the next two years.  Businesses want the best possible infrastructure, services, and platforms. Any organisation looking to remain competitive within this space in the coming years should certainly follow suit. However, there is another factor that should drive an organisation towards multi-cloud. The top providers of cloud solutions are constantly innovating and introducing new technologies to better their service. An organisation that partners with just one provider must sit back and hope that their technology evolves with the market and remains best-in-class. An enterprise with a multi-cloud solution can be proactive in the market, electing choose to consistently employ the best services and value at any one time. 

However, in order to ensure that a company’s multi-cloud deployment is successful, a business’ different cloud services need to function smoothly and cohesively. Failure to adequately prepare for the transition and subsequent management can undo much of the advantage gained.

Being able to quickly adapt your solution based on the market also means that cloud providers cannot afford to rest on their laurels, and must provide the best solutions, which is surely beneficial to all businesses.

All evidence points to multi-cloud being the future of IT, and its rise will bring about big changes not only in how organisations interact with their vendors but how vendors interact with each other. A multi-cloud strategy is transformative for businesses and the right partner can mean a pain-free transition so businesses can make the most of the advantages it offers. 

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