The good, the bad and the ugly of a multi-cloud provider strategy

There is a lot going for a multi-cloud provider strategy, but understanding where the natural application/workload ‘firebreaks’ are is key, so that integration and operational challenges don’t turn ugly.

Many of the big challenges are in the commercial (or legal) area so don’t leave that department out of the decision making process.

Many organisations and service providers are moving towards this approach – or are at least taking steps towards it. Be sure to review the market, seek out lessons from other organisations and ask lots of searching questions.

>See also: The great IT myth: is cloud really less secure than on-premise?

As with any major infrastructure shift, there are associated risks to adopting a multi-cloud provider strategy. However as these technologies become increasingly standardised these risks will diminish over time.

If managed carefully, multi-cloud strategies could get you where you want to be quicker, more efficiently and ultimately deliver the competitive edge you need, thus allowing business to create a ‘best of all worlds’ service that is truly a custom fit.

Though many organisations are becoming better informed about the cloud, there are still key technical, operational and commercial challenges that are important to understand when considering the good, the bad and the ugly of a multi-cloud provider strategy.

The good


·      Quickly leverage technical advantages of any provider.

·      Accurately match application/workload requirements to the provider’s platform capabilities.


·      Businesses have the ability to select a provider that has the specific expertise and background to deliver the service wrap each application/workload requires.

·      This ensures you can minimise impact to overall service if a single provider has operational issues.


·      The strategy drives the best price for each application/workload at the outset and during future negotiation for existing and new requirements.

·      Avoids/mitigates vendor lock-in.

The bad


·      Ensuring applications can operate in a secure environment and at an equal performance level across multiple providers can create integration challenges. Make sure this is factored into the design early on.

·      Define technical requirements for each application/workload, followed by architectural expertise to correctly map them to the available market of solutions.


·      Consider how you will perform IT service management across multiple providers. Who has control over areas such as change, scheduled downtime and overall service visibility? No single hand to shake (or throat to choke). No one provider has obvious accountability for the overall service delivery and each is only a part in delivering your business strategy.

·      Don’t forget the legacy. Make sure your providers can help here or you risk being left with 20% of the estate but 80% of the problem.


·      Make sure you can keep track of the pricing of multiple providers and understand how your requirements/growth impact the price you pay.

·      Do you have the resource and expertise to manage multiple suppliers and the overheads that come from service reviews, supplier contracts, etc?

The ugly


  • Can you keep up? The sheer pace of change could mean your business is constantly reviewing and redesigning your solutions and their integration. Do I want to be first to do it? There are very few references, case studies or vendor validated designs on how to integrate applications across multiple providers.


  • When something goes wrong, will you love or hate your diverse provider ecosystem? How easy is it to restore service and confidence?
  • What SLAs will you get? These are nearly as complex and diverse as licensing – ensuring you have meaningful and achievable SLAs in place can involve a significant overhead.


  • Are you compliant and how do you prove it?  This can be a minefield – are your applications correctly licensed and compliant with external regulatory bodies?  Auditing against business compliance standards and policies when the service is diversely spread – how do you do this with confidence?
  • Are you getting value for money? Benchmarking becomes more complex and there are few other organisations to benchmark against. Comparing ’apples to apples’ across providers is not easy.

Establish a team that covers the above areas and try to develop a structured and transparent method of covering the requirements and then assessing against the capabilities of providers. If you are unsure, ask. Be prepared to be an early adopter by working with potential providers to work through the detail.

Sourced from Kevin Linsell, Adapt

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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