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Multi-Cloud: What Does It Mean For Your Organization?

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Multi-cloud is a strategy for organizations to perform different tasks using two or more cloud computing platforms. Organizations that don’t want to depend on a single cloud provider may choose to use resources from several providers so that they get the benefits from each unique service.

If you’re one of the emerging start-ups coming out of Singapore, San Francisco, Manilla or Bangalore, the chances are you’re building your IT infrastructure and application stack from cloud services of a single vendor. In a traditional enterprise setting, the situation is a little different. Enterprise IT tends to rely on multiple cloud vendors, including private and public clouds, without untapping the benefits of the multi-cloud initiative.

Enterprise IT is in the midst of a great cloud migration and a lot of this migration is happening on the back of a single cloud vendor. We’re witnessing the largest banks, government agencies, exchanges, FMCGs, pharma companies, education institutes all rushing though their migration strategies and they’re all making the same mistake – putting all their eggs in the same basket.

 

The downsides of a single cloud strategy

In the short term, a single cloud strategy doesn’t look so bad. Major cloud vendors use all of their resources to make the migration experience as smooth as possible for your organization. The downsides start to surface further down the line when you’re no longer a new customer and have consumed all your signup bonuses. This is when the vendor will start billing you at the market rate. You’ll be forced to negotiate a renewed contract, which may favor the vendor in providing you with a competitive rate.

Even without a lock-in period, cloud migrations are a nightmare due to the lack of common standards of cloud interoperability and the stubbornness of cloud vendors in letting their customers go.

Moreover, every cloud vendor has its own strengths and weaknesses. A cloud service provider may have exclusive services unfound in competing cloud service providers. The idea behind a multi-cloud strategy is to get the best of each cloud’s platform services.

For example, AWS may be the ultimate cloud service provider for startups and tech firms, but it isn’t very dependable for conventional enterprises running their application in a hybrid of cloud and hybrid datacenters. Amazon doesn’t seem too keen to move in that direction either. On the other hand, Microsoft has excellent support for applications running in a hybrid environment with its Azure cloud services and is more popular with enterprises. In addition, Microsoft Azure is preferred by security centric organizations because of Microsoft’s transparent security policies and past reputation with breaches.

 

Moving towards a multi-cloud future

Being subscribed to more than one cloud vendor and having a coherent multi-cloud strategy are two different things. Organizations often mistake them for the same thing and then complain about how they’re not receiving any of the perceived benefits of adopting a multi-cloud strategy.

A multi-cloud strategy means bringing together the best cloud services from each cloud vendor in a single application stack. For example, if you’re developing a JavaScript-based application then you don’t have to rely on a single cloud service provider for everything from a runtime environment to a database. For instance, you may run the MongoDB database with MongoDB Atlas on Microsoft Azure and host NodeJS on an EC2 instance, employing AWS SDK for JavaScript. If you wish to pack the application in Docker containers and manage the containers via Kubernetes, you may employ Google Container Engine and Google Kubernetes Engine respectively.

Read on: Migration To Azure: Benefits, Specific Migration Plan & A Free Gift

You must choose the cloud services that are best fitted to your IT infrastructure and application stack. There are several benefits to a comprehensive multi-cloud strategy.

 

Benefits of a multi-cloud strategy

When you rely on a cloud vendor with all your IT needs, you think of all the immediate benefits instead of thinking it through. Cloud migration is a tedious job and keeps organizations preoccupied thinking through the potential problems with their decision. But whether it’s IT or otherwise, relying on a single organization to keep your business in order is a bad idea. With a multi-cloud strategy, you can keep these problems at bay. Adopting a multi-cloud strategy has its complications, but the benefits far outweigh them.

Break the vendor lock-in

Despite what major cloud vendors advertise on their website and the marketing materials they want you to believe, they don’t want you to migrate from their cloud services to another and won’t make the process easy either. Data migrations are already harder - a lack of support from the host cloud service provider makes it an absolute nightmare.

By spreading your organization’s IT across cloud services from various vendors, you’ll have the freedom from the tyranny of cloud vendors. In the case of discontent with your primary service provider, you may move that part of the stack to another cloud vendor without much friction.

Improved cost to performance ratio

Each cloud vendor has a unique price model. If you’re after a managed Kubernetes service, you may opt for either Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) or Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS) depending on which one is offering the best cost to performance ratio. In case one of the cloud vendors revises their price for the cloud service in the future, you may reconsider the options and move to another managed Kubernetes service which is offering the lowest price for maximum performance at that time.

This freedom can result in some significant cost savings in the long run, while your users will appreciate the performance of the application.

Compliance

Regulations like HIPAA and GDPR put a high stake on service providers handling sensitive, medical, and personal data. Moving to a multi-cloud strategy means you may opt for the cloud service providers that are providing the best compliance with the current regulation around data security. Did you know that when you sign up with a cloud service provider as a subcontractor, they’re as responsible as you are for non-compliance?

Resilience

Cloud service providers experience downtime which may affect a subset of their cloud services, or all of them. Past outages in AWS have led to customers losing access to their Netflix and Amazon accounts. If your IT is dispersed across multiple cloud service providers, you can mitigate most of these problems by sharing the load across available cloud modules to the cloud services.

 

Is it time to opt for the multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud is a gradual exercise, you can’t expand your IT across multiple cloud services just like that. It takes thorough planning and strategizing each step in your journey towards a multi-cloud future. The benefits may not surface at once. Building your infrastructure and application stack around more than one cloud vendor takes time and requires enormous effort from your cloud architects. The implementation also carries substantial costs. Once you’re past the deployment phase and you start seeing the benefits, you’ll realize the pros fast outweigh the cons. Not to mention, you wouldn’t want to be tied down to a single company that could decide the fate of your cloud future.

Rare Crew is a cloud-first software development company that empowers organizations to take the journey towards a multi-cloud future.


Read on: How Can You Save Up To 65% On Your Cloud Costs?

 

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