a cloud  over a  lake with a perfect  reflection below
PHOTO: Henry Dick

Multi-cloud computing is the use of multiple cloud computing and storage services in a single network architecture. The multi-cloud strategy aims at distributing cloud assets, software, and apps across different cloud environments. 

With a multi-cloud strategy, businesses, institutions, and enterprises seek to eliminate or reduce the reliance on a single cloud provider to avoid vendor lock-in or potential downtime. 

A quick Google Trends search reveals that even though the single cloud strategy is still strong in the users’ minds, search trnds for it are being slowly superseded by multi-cloud initiatives, and the trend is gaining momentum. To reveal the reasons behind this increase in interest, we asked experts and IT professionals about the multi-cloud strategy and its pros and cons.

Why Multi-Cloud?

One of the main reasons behind moving towards a multi-cloud strategy is the rise of SaaS services and solutions. Since the standard architecture of most businesses of today involves using SaaS providers to run traditional business processes rather than leveraging a standalone, monolith solution, companies are also moving towards multi-cloud to reduce costs and prevent the issues that might come with a single cloud provider. 

According to Adam Mansfield, Practice Leader at Boston, MA.-based UpperEdge, “the reason more businesses are leveraging multi-cloud environments includes limiting or minimizing heavy reliance on one vendor’s cloud solution. By having a multi-cloud environment, the business is set up to have necessary compute resources and data storage available to address downtime or potential data loss.”

Thus, it seems that the main benefit behind enacting a multi-cloud strategy is related to breaking vendor lock-in, minimizing downtime, and gaining a mixed set of tools to prevent issues from arising, giving businesses increased autonomy to make decisions. 

Now that we scratched the surface let’s take a closer look at the benefits of utilizing a multi-cloud strategy.

Related Article:  IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS Cloud Computing Architectures Compared

Multi-Cloud Strategy Benefits

Multi-Cloud Is More Cost-effective Than Single-Cloud

The cloud market is swelling, and there are many competitors in the field. This has given birth to a price and feature war among cloud computing providers. In fact, as Michele Borovac, CMO at Cupertino, CA.-based, Workspot says, “it’s easier to negotiate a better price if you have an alternative for comparison. Also, price-performance varies for different services, so some organizations may find it more cost-effective to run their test-dev operations in Google while delivering their cloud desktop solution in Azure”.

Single Cloud Is Simpler, But Multi-Cloud is More Flexible

“The advantage of using a single cloud is simplicity – you only need to learn how to work with one cloud provider. If you have a smaller team with less cloud expertise, it might be better to start simply with a single public cloud vendor,” says Borovac. 

And it’s true, as juggling different cloud providers can prove difficult for young or small companies, but in a multi-cloud environment, you gain flexibility despite the complexities, or as Mansfield says, “when open to a multi-cloud strategy, you’re also allowing for the opportunity to receive the benefits and advantages of best-in-breed solutions that are out there.”

Multi-Cloud Pushes Innovation

Another consequence of the rise of cloud computing is that vendors are pushing the limits of technology, looking for better ways to innovate and delight users with new features and offerings. “This includes taking advantage of innovations that one cloud provider may be advancing. Still, if you’re only using a single provider, you’re limited to the set of capabilities that the provider has,” says Mansfield.

Designing Your Multi-Cloud Strategy

The cloud has become the foundation that enables businesses to transform and scale up. According to Gartner, 40% of organizations in the U.S. plan to spend additional funding on cloud computing, yet most of the surveyed companies aren’t clear on how to get started. 

Now that the benefits of multi-cloud over single-cloud are more evident, let’s talk about the multi-cloud strategy itself and the questions you need to ask to build a successful- future-proof strategy.

  • Identify your motivations for the cloud: This is the first step. You need to assess the key areas where the cloud can deliver value and benefits for your business. This assessment should go beyond the mere technical benefits and see into the potential of the cloud in every aspect of the business.
  • Plan your cloud adoption: Adopting cloud initiatives isn’t a quick move. Cloud projects are complex, and it takes time to develop the skills and the infrastructure. Plan your cloud adoption and give every step an adequate time frame to make sure everything happens when it has to. 
  • Assess your organization’s challenges to cloud adoption: Every organization has its hurdles to cloud adoption. To be able to deploy a multi-cloud strategy, you need to see what are the technology and organizational roadblocks you could be experiencing and how to overcome them.
  • Develop and build cloud competencies: If your IT team isn’t as mature as you need it to be, this is the moment where you start investing in developing and building the skillsets that will drive your multi-cloud strategy.
  • Prepare your business for the cloud: This involves gaining traction and acceptance from your non-technical stakeholders. In this step, you define the new roles, processes, and attitudes that you will need in your organization. 
  • Select the right cloud provider : This is often the most exciting part of the whole strategy because it involves talking to providers and deciding which features you need from each provider, and when you start building your multi-cloud strategy. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, each cloud provider brings something to the table as a unique value proposition.  A multi-cloud environment provides greater flexibility to ensure you have the best of breed when it comes to your support of the company’s specific goals — whether by department or from the entire organizational perspective.