RightScale’s 2016 State of the Cloud report showed that an astounding 95 percent of respondents, who were all IT professionals, are utilizing cloud computing. Beyond that, a study by Microsoft and 401 research (PDF) showed that nearly a third of organizations work with four or more cloud vendors.
Obviously, the cloud is here to stay. With its reduction of cost, lower potential downtime, flexibility, and more, it is a technology that will only continue to grow. Now the question is, should you stick with one cloud provider or take a multicloud strategy?
Need some proof that multicloud is likely the way of the future? Google recently bought Orbitera, a multicloud platform. With this, they hope to outperform No. 2 Microsoft Azure and potentially catch up to the leader, Amazon Web Services. It’s clear that the ability to work with multiple cloud vendors is important to consumers today.
Benefits of a multicloud strategy
No more vendor lock-in
Vendor lock-in is something many companies try to avoid. If there is poor customer support, below-average performance, or the cloud service provider decides to raise prices, being trapped with one company could be bad for business.
Another problem that comes with committing to a single company is that you are not protected from as many vulnerabilities or unplanned problems. If there is an outage at your cloud datacenter, for example, you will have better disaster recovery with a backup cloud service.
One more advantage of not being dependent on one vendor is the fact that you can choose from the many options to find the best price for each service you require. Knowing you might not stick with a specific vendor if they raise prices or experience a drop in quality also helps to make sure that these events don’t take place.
Of course, it is unusual for reliable cloud services like Amazon Web Services to fail, but it isn’t unheard of. A multicloud strategy is simply a prudent way to make sure you have hardware, software, and infrastructure backup.
More precise services
Beyond this, certain cloud service providers are simply more apt at dealing with particular circumstances. Using a number of different cloud providers means that you can choose the best option for each of your company’s needs.
Additionally, certain clouds are better at handling large data transfers with a smaller number of requests, whereas others specialize in the opposite. Another reason for using multiple clouds could be to have your most sensitive data protected on a private cloud while keeping other resources more available on a public cloud.
Keep in mind that there are nuanced differences between hybrid and multicloud structures; this pairing of public and private clouds is typically a hybrid-cloud, rather than the multicloud option.
Hybrid cloud architecture allows for the collaboration across your choice of servers and networks, either on-premises or private or public cloud. This workload cooperation across different types of cloud environments helps to secure data, even during a transition between the two.
The cloud wars aren’t slowing down, and cloud computing is one more step toward more flexibility and better-fitted services and solutions.
Choosing only one provider could mean that your company would have to make compromises among their diverse needs. So, why choose one cloud provider and make sacrifices if it’s ultimately unnecessary?
The potential downfalls of a multicloud strategy
How difficult is moving between clouds?
While there are some systems, such as Cloud Foundry, that are set up to help you navigate a multicloud strategy, it can be difficult to move between clouds. This is because different cloud computing services have different environments, each with their own quirks or styles to learn.
Also, there’s potential downtime while moving data among the cloud providers you use. Another thing to consider is that most cloud services don’t want their clients to easily leave and transfer to another provider, so they might make the process a bit more difficult than it needs to be.
Of course, there are companies such as VMware that provide their users the option to integrate Amazon and Microsoft cloud deployments with their own service. As companies learn that a multicloud strategy is the way of the IT future, more will provide services to make it easier to move between their different environments.
Can your team manage it?
You need to have a team that is well versed in more than one cloud provider to understand how to automate and account for the specifics of each service. If your team doesn’t understand the cloud provider you’d like to use, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll have to spend time allowing them to train with this new technology. While it can potentially save you money, in the long run, to use multiple providers, the upfront training costs while your team learns the ropes is something to consider.
The technology might be faster than you are
If for example, AWS releases an innovative technology that you’d like to adopt, you first have to be certain that it will function throughout each provider that you use. If you are someone who likes to always be on top of the latest releases, this is an important consideration.
If, instead, you prefer to wait until the technology is more developed and accessible, this won’t be a big problem for you. It depends on the demands and desires of your specific team and company.
Is it secure?
Moving data around could present some problems for security. Sensitive data needs extra care as it travels among your choice cloud providers, and this is something that may not be scrutinized when deciding on the multicloud strategy.
This is also a large consideration with hybrid cloud, although it’s usually not overlooked because a main reason for using this structure is to place less sensitive data on a public cloud while keeping secure data on your own machines or a private cloud.
With either option, it’s important to make sure you are prepared and knowledgeable about the potential risks of keeping and moving your data among certain cloud providers.
So, should you use the multicloud strategy?
Taking the pros and cons into consideration, it really comes down to a question of your team. If they already know how to use multiple cloud providers or if your company has the resources to help them learn, it seems to be the way of the future.
Additionally, using other services that assist in managing multiple cloud services makes this option much more simple and possible. Overall, bypassing vendor lock-in, having specialized cloud services built specifically for what you need, and potentially lowering costs make the multicloud strategy a smart choice.