If we have become used to talking about the cloud in terms of private and public cloud, or even about hybrid cloud strategies, over the past couple of years organizations are increasingly turning to multi-cloud strategies with some even going so far as to dedicating a cloud to run a single app.
But cloud computing, even if we are more familiar with it now than we were before is still complicated. “COVID-19 has accelerated the migration to cloud computing,” said Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Itasca, Ill.-based Flexera, said. “Still, cloud isn’t magic or the land of milk and honey. Companies are moving fast, facing challenges, and trying to connect cloud computing to business outcomes.”
2021 State of the Cloud
To underline how complicated the cloud landscape has become in recent times, you only must look at Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud report (Registration Required). Based on responses from a panel of 750 technical professionals from around the globe and across a broad cross-section of industries, it points to an industry that is changing rapidly. The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2020. Some of the key findings include:
- 92 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy; 80 percent have a hybrid cloud strategy
- 49 percent silo workloads by cloud with 45 percent integrating data between clouds
- Respondents use an average of 2.6 public and 2.7 private clouds
- Public cloud adoption continues to accelerate
- 75 percent of enterprises have a central cloud team or center of excellence
It also showed that adoption was growing rapidly. All seven of the cloud providers tracked in the State of the Cloud Report experienced growth:
- AWS adoption grew to 77 percent (from 76 percent last year);
- Azure grew to 73 percent (from 63 percent last year);
- Google Cloud grew to 47 percent (from 35 percent last year);
- VMware Cloud on AWS grew to 24 percent (from 17 percent last year);
- Oracle Infrastructure Cloud grew to 29 percent (from 17 percent last year);
- IBM Public Cloud grew to 24 percent (from 13 percent last year);
- Alibaba Cloud grew to 12 percent (from 7 percent last year).
Related Article: Take Your Cloud Strategy Into the Future
What Is Multi-Cloud
So, what exactly is a multi-cloud strategy? Ryan Murphy, VP of cloud center of excellence leader, at France-based Capgemini explains that it refers to the usage of multiple cloud environments. The definition can vary, but this includes the usage of multiple providers for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS environments, and can include hybrid cloud environments as well. This approach allows enterprises to choose cloud providers and environment types in a fit-for-purpose manner based on the workload or application. It can also help solve issues around security, regulatory environments, and data privacy, while still providing consumption flexibility and ensuring enterprises avoid vendor lock-in.
Sean Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Alexandria, Va.-based Disaster Tech, adds that a common advantage is to achieve optimal performance and minimal latency. This method helps enterprises like the U.S. Government and Fortune 100 companies leverage on-premises, multi-cloud, and hybrid approaches for their data and computational needs. Because of these benefits, it is wise for Microsoft to take a pragmatic approach to embrace multi-cloud configurations – even if that means working with competitors because it will be essential to client retention and client success.
From a disaster resilience perspective, keeping data and essential records in one spot can create single points of failure. Therefore, enterprises must consider multi-cloud approaches that can support on-premises integration, if the objective is to build reliable, resilient data infrastructure.
With climate change, data centers are increasingly subject to floods, fires, and loss of connectivity from power outages from severe weather events. Most people overlook that at the end of the data cloud, there is a physical data center in a building somewhere exposed to a diverse array of hazards. Because of these increasing risks, enterprises must embrace a multi-cloud strategy, and it is intelligent and reassuring to see Microsoft trying to get ahead of the curve.
Aaqib Gadit is the co-founder and CEO of Malta-based Cloudways, a multi-cloud managed hosting provider. He explains that the rise of multi-cloud or cloud-agnostic strategies can be linked to the fact that it gives enterprises flexibility and simplicity in how they scale their business.
Multi-cloud hosting providers can also offer tools and workflows through a unified platform to help them seamlessly manage and move their apps across different clouds. Broadly speaking, the top reasons why enterprises utilize multi-cloud hosting is because it offers flexibility, security, and a better customer experience.
“Imagine you have built a SaaS Platform over a public cloud provider, and you are very happy with the simplicity, affordability, and reliability of their platform,” Gadit said. “Then over a period, you or your customers develop a need for an auto-scalable database or an AI capability that is not available with your primary Cloud, there you go. Likewise, as you scale and the workload gets complex, there will be cases where running a specific workload on one will be cheaper than the other, making a decent difference in your finances.”
Enterprises often use multi-cloud not so much for the deployment of an individual application, but more for application ecosystems that comprise multiple applications and/or tools, said Mike Rulf, CTO of Americas at Germany-based Syntax. For example, due to a geographically dispersed (or work-from-home) workforce an organization may turn to Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) using their Office 365 licenses to ensure secure access to the corporate environment.
Once on that virtual desktop, VPN or private connectivity is used to access a corporate ERP system like Oracle E-Business Suite, SAP, or JD Edwards that could be on-premises or hosted with a private cloud provider. In turn, that ERP system may be tied to a SaaS solution like Workday or ADP for HR data and integrate with a data lake built using AWS Lake Formation in conjunction with AWS Quicksight for dashboards and visualizations.
“Multi-cloud arrangements are often used if an organization has a geographically dispersed workforce or in today’s reality, the majority of employees working from home on unsecured home networks and computers shared with other family members,” he said. This results in users accessing corporate resources from devices that corporate IT has little control over making them suspect from a security perspective.
As a result, companies are using remote desktop solutions like Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) or AWS Workspaces that are owned, secured and fully monitored/managed by Corporate IT and thus ensuring they comply with corporate security standards. Azure WVD or AWS Workspaces then connects via a VPN or a private network (which can also be a Cloud Service like MegaPort) to corporate resources residing on another Cloud provider’s platform or even on-premises in a corporate datacenter. Often for our customers, this is the genesis of a multi-cloud ecosystem.
Creating a Successful Multi-Cloud Strategy
Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Quest Software's product marketing manager of performance monitoring, Tim Fritz, believes that the success of a multi-cloud strategy depends on the following factors, and how each potential cloud offering can deliver on them:
Exploiting technical advantages: There are several advantages here that is attracting many companies.
- Lower maintenance costs
- Reliability and redundancy
- Flexibility (The ability to scale up and back down)
Meeting business needs: When an organization is in the process of choosing a multi-cloud strategy, data empowerment must be a part of that strategy. This means having a robust data governance program in place. The location of data needs to be known to anyone who needs to use it (and is authorized to do so) on-premises or in the cloud.
Equipping your cloud environment: Load testing is a step that many organizations skip when moving a database to the cloud or creating one there. But to be certain that a cloud service will tolerate the loads placed on a database the same way that the on-premises environment does, testing is mandatory.
Each cloud platform has its own merits. Pricing, lock-in variables, features, service-level agreements (SLAs), and other major decision factors vary considerably across the many forms of cloud, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Jesse David Thé, CEO of Toronto-based Tauria, concludes. Understanding the key differences when forming the DevOps or Platform strategy. Typically, this uses the best venue assessment, what is workload, and which factors are most important.
Enterprise agreements (long-term contracts) get the best value. Increased cloud consumption means placing more trust in these services. Senior executives, boards, and regulators insist on the right mix of risk and strong governance to ensure this balance. Enterprise contracts yield the best possible terms and conditions but not without effort and the loss of flexibility to switch providers.