Cloud services and the approach that enterprises have towards them have evolved significantly over recent years. Today, one of the leading trends is the multi-cloud approach, where organisations make use of multiple cloud services from different vendors and combine them to create a unified, infrastructure. Around 70% of businesses already partner with more than one cloud provider and a third of them work with as many as four or five. By 2030, it is predicted that multi-cloud strategies will be the norm, providing enterprises with increased agility and the potential for accelerated innovation and deployment.
There are, however, alternative infrastructures to be considered, such as hybrid clouds, so it is helpful for leaders to be fully aware of the pros and cons of adopting a multi-cloud approach and, in this article, we will explain what these are.
The pros of adopting a multi cloud approach
Two of the most significant advantages of building a multi-cloud infrastructure are that it gives enterprises the flexibility to innovate at pace and the freedom to achieve specific goals. By not being tied to the services and infrastructure of a single vendor, they have the freedom to find the best solution for each of their needs without being restricted by the limitations of a particular host.
While a single vendor might provide everything a company needs for the vast majority of its services, limitations in certain areas may force it to make unnecessary compromises when developing some solutions and thus lead to critical innovations being curtailed. In the modern marketplace, this is not an acceptable state of affairs and the multi-cloud strategy has proven to be a practical and popular way forward.
By adopting a multiple-vendor strategy, companies needing to use the services of an alternative provider no longer have to experience the disruption of migrating all their services to that host. Instead, the multi-cloud approach lets them run each of their different services with the most appropriate provider for that task. What governs that choice could be the cost of the service, the expertise and technical support of the vendor, the geolocation of the data centre, the architecture of the network or various other attributes.
For instance, when it comes to compliance with data protection regulations, enterprises might find themselves better positioned to use the services of a host that only stores data in a single country. This way, potential problems caused by foreign governments demanding access to that data, which could result in a data breach, can be avoided. This is a potential issue for companies storing EU citizen data, protected by GDPR, with vendors that move data across national borders. If that data is stored in the US, for example, the law there gives law enforcement agencies access to it for national security purposes.
Another reason organisations adopt multi-cloud is to use a provider based near to their customers. Doing so, can cut down latency and speed up the performance of their online services. Cutting the cost of storage is another attraction. Though data storage has decreased in price, this has been overshadowed by the growth in the amount of data that enterprises collect. Being able to run services with one vendor but store data more cost-effectively with another has helped many businesses better manage their budgets. Indeed, keeping data as a separate entity means businesses can jump from supplier to supplier in the same way that car owners do with insurance, always getting the most cost-effective deal.
The final benefit of a multi cloud strategy is that it has led to the end of vendor lock-in. No longer are enterprises dependent or limited by the technology, expertise and range of services offered by any one provider. Indeed, in order to meet the growing numbers of multi-cloud users, cloud providers are looking at ways that they can work together to help customers better integrate the services they have spread across different vendors. This is leading to increased standardisation across the cloud landscape, making it easier than ever to adopt multi-cloud. And with the continual development of tools like software containers, migrating services from one environment to another is quick and easy.
The cons of using a multi cloud approach
The main disadvantage of adopting a multi cloud approach is that the wider an organisation spreads its services, the more challenging it becomes to manage them. Today, enterprises want the best of both worlds – the flexibility to use the most appropriate vendor for each task and the ability to centrally manage all their services across the various solutions.
This has been made easier by the development of multi-cloud management platforms that enable enterprises to control all aspects of their multi-clouds from a single graphical interface, and which allow them to manage everything from governance to monitoring and optimisation.
A vital area that needs effective management in multi-cloud environments is security. With the line of defence running across services with multiple providers, robust network security is essential. However, vendors do have the latest security tools in place and the above mentioned multi-cloud management platforms also enable security measures to be implemented across all clouds.
Though multi-cloud setups are more complex and more challenging to manage than a single vendor approach, overall, they offer real benefits. They help enterprises keep costs to a minimum while providing the flexibility and freedom to choose the best vendor for each workload. What’s more, with the development of multi-cloud management platforms and software containers, and with vendors collaborating to provide better solutions for multi-cloud customers, it looks like the multi-cloud approach is here for the long term.
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