Multicloud refers to when a company opts to source cloud services from different providers. It could be for specialised operations – some providers are strong in particular industries – or because one provider has a major presence in certain geographies. Or it might be an IT team’s reluctance to bet the house on one provider.
According to research from Flexera, 90% of enterprises have adopted a multicloud approach, so it’s very much in the mainstream of corporate philosophy. On average, the survey found, corporates use 2.6 public clouds and 2.7 private clouds – but also experiment with an additional 1.1 public clouds and 2.2 private ones. This mix of clouds will offer several benefits but there are downsides to be negotiated too.
Advantages of multicloud
There are several advantages in going down the multicloud route. First of all, there is immediate redundancy: cloud services fail, so using different providers can mean a continuity of service.
Secondly, different cloud providers have different strengths. For example, Google Cloud is very strong on data analytics and machine learning, so companies looking to handle multiple data streams may well choose Google for this while using Amazon for the rest of the business.
There is also the question of economics. Different cloud providers have their own charging systems and there could be some real financial benefits of opting for one provider in a particular instance. It would require some detailed planning and management, but the rewards may well be worth it.
And, as we’ve already seen, a multicloud approach can allow for a degree of experimentation, a way to test out new services, without massive investment.
Downsides of multicloud deployment
While it’s attractive to CIOs to have the ability to choose from a range of cloud services, there are a number of issues that could cause problems down the line.
One of the main problems is a human rather than a technological one. Most cloud training is vendor specific: practitioners are trained AWS or Microsoft engineers or architects. And everything is geared to working with that particular provider, not across cloud services as a whole.
There is also the issue of juggling so many services. For example, many cloud users struggle with the rise of the so-called shadow IT, a situation where business users provision cloud services without reference to the IT department. It’s a situation that can cause problems for IT managers with one provider but that can multiplied several times when multiple providers are being handled.
We’ve already mentioned the financial benefits of getting the best deals, but that can provide a headache too. There is a need to keep up to speed at all times with what services are being used and when. Drop the ball and you could be over-charged for excessive usage.
Finally, there are security considerations to bear in mind. With different cloud providers there will be pinch points when moving from one cloud to another. It’s vital you ensure this doesn’t cause difficulties.
- Multicloud refers to when a company opts to source cloud services from different providers.
- On average, according to one survey, corporates use 2.6 public clouds and 2.7 private clouds
- Obvious advantages are that you can choose a supplier with particular strengths and have continuity if one service goes down.
- But there are disadvantages, including the growing complication that comes with juggling multiple services.
For more resources on cloud computing
You might be interested in reading our explainers “what is public cloud” or “what is hybrid cloud“, as well as our latest feature outlining lessons from 17 years of cloud computing.
In addition, check out our cloud section.
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