In my previous blog I wrote about the confusion that often surrounds Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud and I explained what the Hybrid Cloud exactly is. In this blog, I will go into depth on the other version we are seeing more and more often: the Multi Cloud. I will also list six handy tips for a strong Multi Cloud strategy.
By Daniël Perrier, Innovation Strategist COMPAREX the Netherlands
Reading time: 8.50 minutes
Let’s start with a short explanation of what Multi Cloud entails. By that term we mean an organization using multiple Public Cloud platforms. For example, when an organization uses both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) or IBM Bluemix (SoftLayer), on which (part of) the infrastructure runs. An important difference with the Hybrid Cloud is that with a Multi Cloud, only Public Cloud platforms are used.
The Multi Cloud is coming up more and more as a strategic solution for complex issues. According to Gartner and Forrester, the Multi Cloud market share has only continued to grow. IDC even reports that in 2017, over 85% of enterprises is using a Multi Cloud strategy.
Public Cloud pioneers
In my position as Innovation Strategist, I mainly come across Multi Cloud in companies that have already come quite far in adopting new (Cloud) technologies. Companies taking their first Public Cloud steps often still do business with only one Cloud Service Provider, but companies leading in technological developments often use multiple clouds. These companies know how to embrace the advantages of the Public Cloud like no other. They use apps from the cloud, or SaaS services, and stay as far away as possible from infrastructural issues and hardware that requires your own maintenance. They prefer to use services that already cover all of that.
The advantages of the Public Cloud
To most people, the advantages offered by Public Cloud are clear. Especially scalability, flexibility, availability, security and geographic distribution of data centers are seen as important assets. The shift to a Pay-as-You-Use model (Capex-Opex) is also seen as a major advantage. More and more companies want to make use of the service of keeping complex infrastructures up and running. Another major advantage of the Public Cloud is the incredibly rapid development currently taking place on the various platforms. An IT department in a private data center cannot keep up with that. Slowly but surely, companies have realized that the areas of security and compliance are no longer an obstacle for Public
The flip side: lock-in
The Public Cloud does have a flip side. Public Cloud suppliers are looking for new ways to retain customers. In some cases, that leads to a lock-in. Platforms then offer not only the obvious services like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, but also e.g. functionalities such as monitoring, billing, automation and orchestration. These days, companies take a critical look at these kinds of platforms and realize that they would rather manage the workloads through an independent platform. Only, sometimes they do not know which Public Cloud is best for them, and they also do not want to go all-in on one individual Cloud Service Provider.
A Multi Cloud strategy offers the solution
By using different Cloud Service Providers, you will always have the freedom to switch to another provider. You would be avoiding putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. You decide which provider is best for each workload. If your Big Data query runs best on AWS, opt for that. If you want to run Microsoft workloads on a Microsoft Native platform, go for Azure.
A Multi Cloud strategy also removes the fear of downtime and the fear of an undesired lock-in. A malfunction can have major consequences if an organization is completely dependent on one single provider. A Multi Cloud strategy would prevent this, since critical components of the infrastructure are covered by multiple providers. This is called Risk Mitigation, or resiliency.
Six handy tips for a strong Multi Cloud strategy
A Multi Cloud strategy offers many interesting advantages. It is important to have a good idea of everything that is involved. Here are six handy tips for you:
1. Embrace the cloud
Unfortunately, too often we still see people handling the cloud as if it were their own personal data center. The provider’s cloud idea is not fully embraced and instead, people rebuild exactly what was in their own data center. It is better to look at what the advantages are per cloud service and adapt the architecture based on those. Only then will you be able to get the best out of the Multi Cloud.
2. Invest in DevOps
It is no coincidence that companies that work with Multi Cloud have often already embraced a DevOps strategy, in which the functionality has been separated from the underlying platform. By means of a code, it can run on different infrastructures with scripts, middleware or different software. This form of development and management will then seamlessly fit into a Multi Cloud strategy.
3. Use a Cloud Management Platform
One of the biggest challenges in working with multiple Cloud Service Providers is centrally managing the workloads. Often, a provider’s platform is used to view logs, billing portals are used to gain insight into costs and other tools are used for provisioning the workloads. This makes the whole unnecessarily complex. A Cloud Management Platform (CMP) offers all these functionalities. That way, you will maintain an overview in the workloads and logs and at the same time, you will maintain the flexibility to move workloads to another provider. An added benefit: in the event of a Cloud Service Provider’s outage, you will have an external CMP platform with which you can quickly subsume workloads in other clouds.
The use of a DevOps strategy, in which the functionality is separated from the platform, combined with a good Cloud Service Provider, also directly provides an Exit strategy.
Should you wish to stop using a certain provider, you can migrate the workloads to another platform.
4. Take on a partner
In a Multi Cloud strategy, you will be dealing with administrative processing from multiple providers. A CMP can help gain insight into the costs. To close and manage contracts, it would however be best to take on a partner. For example, in addition to closing contracts, COMPAREX can provide impartial advice on the various contract forms or provide advice - on a technical level - on which workload would work best in which place.
5. Know the requirements
Before any decisions are made, it is important to gain insight into what the requirements are of the different workloads. It would also be wise to talk to different departments in your company about their wishes and requirements. Unfortunately, too often departments are still inevitably led to a certain cloud while they would have been better off with a different provider. Departments should themselves indicate what they prefer to work with.
6. Invest in training
Last but not least: make sure employees are well prepared for a Multi Cloud strategy. Departments that make their own decisions on where to run a workload (e.g. a development department) should also be properly trained. It is important to bring everyone up to speed and keep them updated on the options offered by the Multi Cloud. Only then will the strategy work to its full potential.
We like to help customers determine a Multi Cloud strategy. In doing so, we provide insight into how the current infrastructure works, which workloads can be placed where, what the requirements are and which providers are the best fit for your organization. Of course, we also offer the option to close contracts with parties such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon via our company. Furthermore, we would be happy to handle financial affairs and contract management for you.
We also offer Managed Services, like the Cloud Consumption Monitor (CCM) and Hybrid Cloud Management (HCM). With these, we provide insight into the costs of different cloud services and based on that we provide impartial advice on the workloads. The next step in making use of services instead of self-management? With Unified Cloud Management (UCM), we offer a complete service for hosting and managing Office365. With UCM, you will receive a complete SaaS service, so that you can focus on what is important to you.
Would you like more information on Multi Cloud?
Curious about the feasibility of a Multi Cloud strategy in your organization? Or do you have questions about the service we offer? Do not hesitate to contact me!.