From flexibility to failover protection, there are many reasons why companies opt for multicloud strategies. According to IDC, just over 93% of companies use multiple infrastructure clouds for their business operations. Most—62%—say they choose this approach to leverage the best-of-breed capabilities of individual providers.
“The main reason [to consider multicloud] is when a cloud service provider offers a service that is far and above better than the one used in your initial deployments,” Mike D. Kail, Executive Technologist at Palo Alto Strategy Group, told InfoWorld. For instance, while one cloud provider might be perfect for archiving data, another might be better suited to host apps with predictable usage rates.
Cost optimization is another reason businesses choose multicloud strategies. According to IBM, sixty-six percent of users say working with several smaller providers costs less than working with a massive vendor that offers more features than they need. Plus, while larger cloud providers offer exclusivity discounts, you can realize cost savings by moving workloads to specialized providers.
In theory, multicloud architecture appears to be a no-brainer. In practice, however, the barriers between providers’ proprietary tools can jeopardize the seamless movement of data across clouds. But businesses can overcome these hurdles with portability and strategic cloud management.
Reducing Lock-in, Latency. and Other Risks
Multicloud adoption creates new opportunities and reduces risk in critical areas, such as vendor lock-in. According to a report from Flexera, 68% of CIOs are worried about using tools from a single vendor and lacking the freedom to move their data as needed. Multicloud architecture allows businesses to avoid lock-in—for small businesses, this approach is particularly appealing because it enables them to start with a small technology stack and then grow it based on business demand.
There are other risks that multicloud can mitigate, especially for businesses operating on a global scale. Not all cloud providers have data centers in regions close to their customers, which can lead to latency. In fact, 44% of IT decision-makers are still using on-premise solutions—rather than shifting to the cloud—due to their concerns about the latency of data in transit. With a multicloud approach, businesses can select different providers based on their data centers’ location and their proximity to their business operations, curbing latency concerns. Global companies—and businesses in general—also need to consider factors such as availability, performance, data sovereignty, regulatory requirements, and labor costs. Multicloud makes meeting needs across these various criteria easier, Gartner says, because it provides users with more options across multiple geographies.
Multicloud also solves an age-old dilemma for companies: the fear of putting all their metaphorical eggs (data) in one basket. When outages occur, it’s beneficial to have back-up options for failover. Similarly, suppose a cloud vendor is acquired. In that case, companies face potential unexpected changes to their terms of service or price, which could create an immediate need to migrate away—in a multicloud ecosystem, migration can happen quickly because companies already have elsewhere to move their workloads.
Portable, Well-Managed Clouds Can Make Multicloud Ecosystems Thrive
It’s difficult to ensure consistency and standardization across multiple providers’ features and functions because even if they are compatible, differences still exist. And, logically, the more cloud providers there are to oversee and integrate, the more complex the ecosystem becomes, and the more room for error there is as a result. A key prerequisite for multicloud success is users’ ability to move data and applications between clouds.
The need for portability puts the onus on providers to support a high level of portability, but proprietary features create boundaries between clouds, restricting the movement of data or apps. To break through these barriers, companies have to architect connections between clouds using open source technologies. These tools facilitate portability by enabling developers to build customized vendor-agnostic applications—think adapters or converters—compatible with non-modular tools.
Linode, for example, supports open source distributions and doesn’t use proprietary forks. Our open APIs give developers the ability to reuse their code, no matter which cloud provider they choose. Development happens in the open with all documentation stored on Github to be improved upon by the open source community. This way, users can maintain control over where they deploy their IT investments, which is the true potential of multicloud. And there’s a growing push to capitalize on this potential—83% of multicloud users in IT organizations want more open ecosystems, where workloads can move more “freely” between clouds.
But even these open environments need management and oversight to deliver results for multicloud users. Multicloud management platforms can provide visibility across providers, making it simpler to manage applications and services—86% of organizations expect management tools to make their multicloud strategies more open and their goals more attainable, IDC found. Typically, these platforms offer a centralized dashboard that IT teams use to get a bird’s-eye view of projects and deployments, while operations teams monitor workloads on various clusters and nodes, and security teams lookout for potential threats—all in one place.
The Future of Multicloud
For most organizations that dip their toes into multicloud architecture, the investment pays off. “We expect that most large organizations will continue to willfully pursue this approach,” Michael Warrilow, VP Analyst at Gartner, wrote in a report. And as cloud environments become increasingly portable, their potential to give users the freedom of choice, cost-saving opportunities, and data control becomes even greater.