The multi-cloud strategy has emerged as a popular approach for organizations to leverage the benefits of multiple cloud platforms. A multi-cloud strategy involves using two or more cloud providers to manage different workloads, applications, and services. This approach provides several benefits, which include increased flexibility, reduced vendor lock-in, improved resilience, and enhanced cost optimization. In this blog, we will explore the concept of multi-cloud strategy in more detail and discuss its advantages and challenges.
What is a multi-cloud strategy?
The multi-cloud strategy involves using multiple cloud providers to host different applications and workloads. This approach enables organizations to select the best cloud provider for each specific application or workload, based on factors such as cost, performance, security, and compliance requirements. A good use case for Multi-Cloud is to add platform resiliency to hosting capabilities. Typically an organization would pick a primary public cloud provider and secondary public cloud providers to migrate workloads. An organization would pick one or the other based on the technology stack in use, availability of in-house skills, long-term contracts and funding programs available with the cloud providers, and the global reach of their business that requires data residency permits.
Major Public Cloud Providers
Three major public cloud providers jointly account for 70 percent of the public cloud market: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). These providers offer businesses and individuals a wide range of cloud-based services, including computing power, storage, database management, analytics, and machine learning. AWS is preferred by businesses for mostly mainframe and Distributed workloads and Microsoft for MS stack. Similarly, Azure and Google are preferred choices for data-centric and AI ML capabilities.
Why a multi-cloud strategy is required?
According to Gartner, 81% of organizations are working with two or more public cloud providers. A multi-cloud strategy offers organizations the following benefits:
- Agility & Choice: By leveraging multiple cloud providers, businesses can avoid vendor lock-in and have the flexibility to choose the best cloud service for each specific workload or application. This allows organizations to tailor their cloud infrastructure to their specific needs and optimize their spending by selecting the most cost-effective cloud service. In addition, a multi-cloud approach provides businesses with agility by enabling them to quickly adapt to changing business requirements. For example, if one cloud provider experiences an outage or performance issues, businesses can quickly switch to another provider without disrupting their operations. This agility also extends to geographic flexibility, as businesses can choose different cloud providers in different regions to ensure compliance with local regulations and data residency requirements.
- Platform Redundancy: It allows flexibility to the end users to safely switch between cloud providers if better features and more economical solutions exist which are mainly funded by the target cloud platform provider.
- Enhanced Cost Optimization: Multi-cloud strategy can help organizations reduce their cloud costs by choosing the most cost-effective cloud provider for each specific application or workload. This approach can also provide a cost advantage to the customer to identify the best tools and licensing for applications that are more targeted for re-hosting than re-platforming.
- Price Negotiation: When an organization is using multiple cloud service providers, it can negotiate better pricing deals for each provider by leveraging its total cloud spend. This is because cloud providers are willing to offer discounted rates to businesses that commit to a certain amount of cloud usage. By using multiple providers, businesses can have more leverage in these negotiations and potentially save significant costs in the long term. In addition, having multiple cloud providers enables businesses to compare prices and choose the most cost-effective provider for each workload or application. This can help optimize cloud spending by avoiding overpaying for services or selecting unnecessary services that could drive up costs.
- Risk Reduction: By using multiple cloud providers, businesses can add agility to their cloud adoption program and can gain an operational advantage by choosing from a wide range of native services that best match their business needs. Moreover, for business-critical data, storing it on multiple platforms at times provides better resiliency against disasters. Since this could be cost-prohibitive, business justification should be exercised as data egress is charged at a higher rate. Using multiple cloud providers also reduces the risk of vendor lock-in. By avoiding reliance on a single provider, businesses can avoid being locked into a single platform or vendor, which can be costly to switch away from in the future.
What are the challenges of a multi-cloud strategy?
While a multi-cloud strategy offers several benefits, it also poses some challenges that organizations need to be aware of:
- Complexity: Managing multiple cloud providers can be complex and challenging. Organizations need to ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources to manage multiple cloud platforms effectively.
- Integration: Integrating multiple cloud providers can be challenging, especially from the hosting standpoint. It takes time to isolate applications and set a cap on what percentage of apps will go to primary, secondary, etc. Also, app tiers and the general availability of skills matter too.
- Cost: While a multi-cloud strategy can help organizations reduce their cloud costs, it can also increase their overall IT costs. Managing multiple cloud providers requires additional resources, such as IT staff and management tools, which can increase costs. Also, upskilling with different tools needs time, and having centralized governance is also necessary.
How to execute it?
The key to maximizing the benefits of a multi-cloud architecture is to manage applications and resources across multiple clouds centrally as if they were part of a single cloud. Organizations across industries prefer to use a multi-cloud management platform – to monitor and manage their multi-cloud deployments as if they were a single cloud environment. The best multi-cloud management platforms typically offer
a) Visibility into, and control over, any cloud resource, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings and associated data storage and networking resources across public cloud, private cloud, and edge deployments.
b) Automation of policy and security at scale
The multi-cloud strategy offers several benefits to organizations, including increased flexibility, avoiding platform redundancy, enhanced cost optimization, and better price negotiation. However, managing multiple cloud providers can also be complex and challenging. Organizations need to carefully evaluate their business needs and choose the right cloud providers that can meet their specific requirements. With the right strategy and management tools, a multi-cloud strategy can help organizations achieve their business objectives while reducing costs and improving performance.