Why Multicloud? Why Now?

The cloud is an amazing resource, and the progression to multi-cloud is a natural evolution as we understand the risks of placing too much faith in any single vendor.

Mehdi Daoudi is CEO of Catchpoint.

Organizations continue to expand their cloud adoption, undaunted by the risks we’ve witnessed in the past few years. While the cloud relieves enterprise users of many headaches, it doesn’t absolve them from a host of other responsibilities, including data security, application health and even adherence to regional laws.

This is why cloud computing is becoming increasingly multicloud, with more than 85 percent of enterprises expected to adopt multi-cloud strategies this year, according to IDC. There are several factors driving this.

Risk of Relying On One Vendor

Who can forget the Amazon S3 breakdown from a year ago – a five-hour outage that took down or affected hundreds of websites (including Amazon’s own site) as well as countless business services, apps and huge volumes of IoT gear? This “domino effect” was a prime example of what can happen when too much of the internet relies on one single service.

Another noteworthy incident occurred last summer, when the CEO of Lululemon directly blamed IBM for a 20 hour-long site outage which caused the athletic apparel maker to lose significant revenues. At the time, Lululemon noted it was investigating alternative cloud options, and even considering moving its website back to an internal data center, thus reducing their dependency on third party computing services.

We’re quick to blame the cloud service provider in instances like these, but that’s not entirely fair because IT teams know there will always be points of failure. It’s just as much the fault of the enterprise user that fails to spread its data and workloads across multiple locations. Having automatic redundancy (whether it involves your own data center, or another cloud provider) can cost more, but it tends to be worth it.

Business Applications: No 'One Size Fits All'

Do you shop at a single store for all your clothing? Of course not. Nor do you think that all types of clothing (pajamas, for instance) warrant spending top dollar, compared to other items like a business suit. Businesses are undergoing a similar evaluation process as they determine what type of platform or service is ideal for individual applications.

For example, for a non-competitively differentiating, standard Microsoft Office 365 collaboration application, the public cloud (where security and reliability may not be as strong as other cloud options) might suffice. But for an application that is truly mission-critical and/or revenue generating, a virtual private cloud environment might be the better choice; or perhaps even no cloud at all – keeping the workload on premise. Many businesses are having success with similar hybrid IT approaches – using the cloud for more commodity-type services, while keeping workloads they’re not willing to chance in-house.

When considering a move to the cloud, it is absolutely essential to audit one’s applications and determine the optimal and most efficient cloud offering.  Not every cloud provider offers the same products and features, and some will be better at supporting differing workload types than others. Sticking with a single cloud service provider will limit your choices and agility, and hamper your organizations’ ability to maximize its overall cloud strategy. The ability to toggle between various cloud services, in order to meet needs that are changing daily (if not hourly) is also an important foundation for DevOps.

Internet Fragmentation

The internet is becoming increasingly fragmented, and in some cases the worldwide web is becoming more like individualized, self-contained country webs. We see this in China (where some digital services originating outside the mainland are blocked) and in Europe, as GDPR regulations mandate that customer data stay within particular regions, in some cases even specific countries (Germany is one example). We think this trend in data localization will only expand.

Like the global and multinational companies they serve, the major cloud service providers are finding it challenging to navigate regulation-intensive areas, particularly China. As a result, they don’t always have the geographic coverage one might expect in such a vast region. Since the quality and reliability of online services degrades the further users are located from content-serving infrastructure, enterprises conducting business in China need to ensure their providers have adequate coverage there.

In the EU, GDPR regulations will be in full force this May, so multinational enterprises need to ensure their providers can meet region-by-region and country-by-country regulations. If Germany is a significant customer base, can the provider meet this nation’s stringent data localization laws, so that all data on German customers stays within Germany’s borders?  For multinationals, it is unlikely that any single provider will be the best at meeting your every need, including solution sets that map exactly to your application needs, and a geographic presence where your customers are located. We have seen such companies rely on up to five cloud service providers spanning four continents.

Conclusion

The cloud is an amazing resource, and the progression to multi-cloud is a natural evolution as we understand the risks of placing too much faith in any single vendor. Factor in increasingly far-flung end users and a complex regional compliance landscape, and it becomes virtually impossible for any single cloud provider to be a one-stop shop.

Going multicloud can be complicated, but it is a worthy and necessary exercise, not only because it addresses the issues outlined above. Once in place, a multi-cloud organization will spend less on infrastructure support and can devote more resources towards developing and creating more customer- and user-centric applications. The ability to dynamically transfer workloads across the resources of multiple providers also offers significant flexibility and cost optimization opportunities - all of which will put your organization in a better position to handle the workloads of the next decade.

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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