2018 Multi-Cloud Strategy: From Niche to Norm in the Enterprise

The cloud has come a long way, and enterprises have all essentially decided it’s time to migrate their on-prem workloads to the cloud.

Issy Ben-Shaul is Co-founder and CEO of Velostrata.

There’s already been a lot of predictions made about the public cloud for 2018. And, I’m prepared to make another one: Multi-cloud is going to dominate this year’s cloud migration strategy in a big way. A recent cloud migration survey by Dimensional Research showed that indeed 69 percent of enterprises who are migrating to the cloud plan to leverage multiple cloud providers. 77 percent of these IT leaders cite a desire to maintain flexibility of workload placement based on usage, cost, regions, and more.

Sixty-nine percent, at over two-thirds, is already an impressive number; but we are confident this number is going to grow, and likely into the 90 percent range. But, why? What’s going to fuel multi-cloud growth so aggressively in 2018? The answer, quite simply, is a rapid expansion of choice for optimizations across functionality, location or pricing.

First, Google has seriously augmented their public cloud capabilities with their Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offering which includes adding rich accessible capabilities on the AI/machine learning and IoT device management front, thus joining two other tech giants, Amazon (with Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft (with Azure). That alone expands enterprise’s public cloud options by 50 percent. This will produce an even broader range of options (and benefits) for enterprises to pick from, making it much more likely that they find appealing options that span multiple clouds. Plus, Microsoft and Google will look to make market share headway by running aggressive promotions to win customers, and Amazon may counter with equally compelling promotions. This promotion give-and-take will create even more incentive for customers to mix-and-match.

In addition to there now being three major players in the public cloud space instead of two, there are other places that are going to get increasingly attractive for enterprises. This leads us to our second factor: industry clouds. These are clouds that are built specifically to support an industry or vertical, so that enterprises can work in a cloud tailored to some of their more specific needs. Good examples of this might include a government cloud, which is highly secure and compliant with a country’s laws and regulations; a finance cloud that is PCI-DSS compliant; or a healthcare cloud which is HIPAA-compliant.

A third factor is going to be the rise of foreign clouds, where enterprises might be able to spend significantly less money in total to achieve their cloud goals. There are already some big players in this market, Alibaba in China, Web Werks in India, and Digital Ocean in Europe, to name just a few. For US companies to leverage these clouds, there would, of course, be some tradeoffs on things like data residency and compliance/regulations, but it could work for some. For smaller enterprises, in particular, it will be attractive to leverage foreign clouds outright, or use US-based clouds for sensitive workloads and foreign clouds for the rest. It could represent major cost savings with almost all the same benefits.

Our fourth and final factor will be the continued growth of containers like Kubernetes, for example, in the cloud. Containers will empower enterprises to quickly and easily optimize and/or transport workloads between cloud vendors, while essentially reducing friction that would have previously been involved in a cross-cloud jump. Things like lengthy re-configuration processes, for example, will become a thing of the past with seamless container mobility between clouds. The extension of containers will ultimately result in two major wins for cross-cloud capabilities.

First, IT can basically build a cloud architecture that is future-proofed, because they’re able to move workloads across clouds with just a few clicks. If a different cloud offers a more compelling fit for a particular use-case, customers can more readily make the switch. Second, it will give application owners the power to truly optimize their portfolios across cloud services, instance types, and regions, but also for things like licensing, governance, and SLA requirements. Containers will provide the ultimate in cross-cloud choice and flexibility, and application owners will take full advantage.

With this wide range of options now spanning major cloud players in the US in addition to industry clouds and foreign clouds, plus the simplicity that containers will provide for cross-cloud workload mobility, it will be increasingly less attractive for enterprises to select just one provider and stay there.

They will instead mix-and-match, so as to architect a mobility friendly, multi-cloud architecture from the very beginning of their migration, instead of picking one cloud to start with and then hoping to spread other on-prem applications to other clouds later. Fundamentally, as cross-cloud and multi-cloud workload mobility has advanced, it’s produced this shift from reactive multi-cloud to proactive multi-cloud.

This shift to proactive multi-cloud and cloud-to-cloud workload mobility is further rationalized by competitive dynamics as major cloud providers enter industry sectors that compete directly with their customers such as retail, healthcare, financial services and automotive, to name a few. Security always has the last word, and a unified security policy that has a multi-cloud strategy in mind from the outset to centralize visibility, correlate threats and harmonize response has become a business imperative.

With this dynamic, proactive multi-cloud strategy, enterprises will be able to maximize the benefits they gain from being in the public cloud by shifting their architectures on-demand. As a result, we’re going to see a big uptick of enterprises adopting architectures that rely on multiple clouds in 2018, such that it should become the industry norm, not the exception.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating.

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