Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Multi-Cloud Approaches Within Reach

The emergence of multi-cloud is a natural progression, as it offers the flexibility to mix and match cloud technologies and services from different vendors to suit an organization’s exact needs.

Industry Perspectives

October 26, 2017

6 Min Read
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Ruslan Synytsky is CEO of Jelastic, Inc.

Multi-cloud approaches are taking a bigger share of the market. More than 85 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to multi-cloud architectures by 2018, according to IDC.

This will decrease the large cloud players’ monopolies and will lead to higher competition, which in turn will lead to more innovation - new and improved products, efficient pricing, better quality services and many more options to attract customers.

Businesses don’t ask anymore why they need the cloud; rather, they ask which cloud they should choose. So the emergence of multi-cloud is a natural progression, as it offers the flexibility to mix and match cloud technologies and services from different vendors to suit an organization’s exact needs. These can be multiple public clouds, multiple virtual or on-premise private clouds, multiple managed or unmanaged clouds, or a mix of them all.

What Does Multi-Cloud Bring to Your Business?

A short answer to this question is flexibility. This single word gives a lot of power and benefits, among them are the following:

Choice of Solutions/Features: Using multiple clouds gives you more choices. All cloud vendors have their own set of strong points and features that differentiate them and makes them the best choice for a specific need. Leveraging several clouds from different vendors lets you combine each strongest option required for your company.

Low Latency: The geographic location of the data center really matters, especially if you target an international audience. Your customers don’t care if you use the cloud in a single region; they all just want fast performance. If you want to keep them as customers you must pay close attention to this. That’s where multi-cloud availability can help, as the data can be distributed to several regions and served from geographically disparate locations. Bringing the connectivity point closer to customers ensures lower latency.

Improved Availability: “Don't put all your eggs in one basket.” The diversification of workloads across different clouds cannot only improve latency but also guarantee a higher level of availability. Utilizing redundancy in infrastructure and software maximizes fault tolerance, as well as optimizes availability and performance.

Even if the vendor is proven, no service is immune from common technical failures or mother nature (natural disasters, etc.). So the best solution for your project might be to have at least two synchronized replicas of mission-critical applications in different data centers. Distribution of the services across multiple vendors is a classic approach to mitigate the risk of application outages, downtime and data loss.

Cost Optimization: Each cloud offers different pricing models for a specific range of resources and services. So there is the option to mix and match the offerings from a variety of vendors in order to meet technology needs as well as available budgets. We suggest a workload performance analysis of different clouds and comparing the results. In this way, you can project the TCO in each cloud and identify which one meets performance requirements at the cheapest cost.

Some dev or test environments can be placed on cheaper cloud capacities (if they don’t require high performance), while production workloads will go to a more robust, and thus more expensive, cloud. The same principle can be applied to data storage - whether it requires higher levels of security and isolation, or can be located within a generic public cloud.

Migrating to Multiple Clouds: Easing the Process

The benefits of a multi-cloud strategy are attractive, but it’s not easy to move from on-premise or a single provider to multiple cloud providers. So if you’ve decided to make this transition, it is important to take into consideration the following best practices in order to choose the right vendors and make the shift as smooth as possible:

Right Choice of Needed Tools: According to Accenture, more than 70 percent of enterprise organizations surveyed said that they don’t involve internal IT staff in the process of cloud service selection. This can lead to multiple cloud services with different tools, but lacking the critical functionality your IT team requires on a day-to-day basis.

To avoid this trap, choosing the cloud should be deliberate and involve all key players. That includes taking into consideration the opinion of cloud experts who knows strengths and weaknesses of the many offerings currently available, and how they interrelate with the specific needs of organization.

Vendor Lock-in: Moving from one vendor to another is not a trivial task. The complexity of multiple clouds and the need for workloads to be interconnected will seem daunting. However the intertia of vendor lock-in, while an easier path right now, will limit the flexibility of where your organization may need to go in the years ahead. So build your strategy to take full advantage of the opportunity to shift vendors when it is dictated by changes that negatively affect performance, business needs, support or cost.

Business Regulations: It is vitally important to assess all the policies and regulations at your company, country, and your providers, in order to choose the right type of cloud and its location for your workloads. For example, in some countries there are regulations about storing personal data restricted by local governments, meaning you cannot serve that data anywhere outside the region. Similarly, many financial institutions demand a highly secure private cloud and won’t let you store their sensitive workloads in a public cloud. So, a multi-cloud strategy must consider all these policies carefully.

Integration and Management: Multi-cloud integration can be extremely complicated, involving tasks unfamiliar even to experienced technical employees. So it is important to have adequate expertise before starting the movement. If there is no expertise in-house, it’s better to hire cloud engineers or engage a managed service provider.

Managing multiple facilities can consume human and time resources. This can lead to extra expenses even considering the cost benefits of a multi-cloud strategy. DevOps experts who can work across multiple cloud providers are difficult to find.

The solution here can be seeking out the right software to provide a level of automation with unified management of public and private clouds within a single dashboard. This can help to unify application deployment and lifecycle management with different vendors and enable easy migration across them.

In conclusion, a multi-cloud strategy can help you unleash the full potential of the cloud, providing freedom of choice within a range of constantly developing cloud solutions, without limiting your company to a single vendor. This will keep the competition flowing, pushing vendors to incorporate the latest innovations into their offerings to satisfy the needs of the market. This approach is born out of your customers’ current demands and, as IDC has indicated, as those demands increase the multi-cloud option will fast become a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have.

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. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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