Why businesses are embracing the multi-cloud approach

Humans value simplicity. We look for brevity, streamlining and rationalisation. We want everything to be simple, understood at a glance, and as clear as possible. Less is more.

While simplicity may be ideal, making it a reality can be a struggle. Things get complicated fast. And nowhere is this more evident than within a business. Billions are spent each year as organisations attempt to make their processes as straightforward as possible, ironing out anything that can be deemed unnecessary to their mission-critical operations.

Similarly, when cloud computing first emerged it was quickly touted as the simple answer to any number of complex IT problems.

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However, just as quickly, the industry has realised that cloud computing – while offering a remarkable leap forward for IT – was not a cure-all. Just as each business is different, the one-size-fits-all approach to cloud is a myth. And while one business department may find that its applications and workloads are suitable for one cloud environment, there is no guarantee that this model will work for the rest of the organisation. Organisations found that careful assessment of its infrastructure was required.

Driven by a multitude of technical and strategic demands, cloud adoption has reached a new level of sophistication. Known as the multi-cloud approach, using more than one cloud supplier is now the de facto set up. A recent report showed that 86% of companies are now using a multi-cloud approach to assist their digital transformation efforts, increase innovation and save on infrastructure costs.

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Options, Options, Options

The most obvious benefit of a multi-cloud approach is that it helps avoid concerns over vendor lock-in. A major fear long before the arrival of cloud, the idea of being stuck with a single vendor brings CIOs out in a cold sweat. A multi-cloud approach means options. Organisations can spin up new environments with whichever provider can offer the best price, the right level of security, or an answer to a specific governance demand.

Similarly, multi-cloud also improves organisational continuity. A perfect example of not putting all your eggs in one basket, this approach adds extra layers of resilience and ensures organisations can return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible in the event of a provider issue.

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Perhaps the prime driver for moving to a multi-cloud system is the demand for operational efficiency. Although it may not appear simpler, a multi-cloud approach can streamline a business. Using multiple cloud providers allows organisations to select the one that can best support the various applications and IT workloads of their business. If, for example, an organisation needs to address governance challenges by locating certain data sets in a specific region and their primary cloud provider doesn’t have that capability, a multi-cloud approach lets it find one that can. Alternatively, if you’re looking to expand to a new region, then working with a cloud provider that is an expert in its data storage laws and legal restrictions can be hugely helpful.

Additionally, different cloud service providers have different strengths – allowing multi-cloud customers to build architectures that take advantage of the specialist skills of each vendor.

Staying Informed

Of course, when building a more sophisticated infrastructure there are challenges that must be addressed. Taking the multi-cloud route undoubtedly adds an extra layer of complexity, and for it to work smoothly it requires an IT team with a wide set of skills, a team with the expertise to get the best out of each individual cloud environment. Attracting and retaining talent for IT teams is its own challenge; as such, it’s crucial that when constructing a multi-cloud architecture, organisations work with providers they trust. Providers should be considered as ‘partners’, available to provide advice, guidance, and consultation to ensure cloud systems are set up and integrated in an optimal way.

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It also requires the IT team to have an iron grip over both its data locations and operating costs. With data and workloads spread across multiple providers, governance can quickly become a difficult business. Maintaining a close view of the overall infrastructure is critical – any multi-cloud CIO must ask themselves: where is my data, and how much is it costing me?

Ultimately, in the case of cloud computing the old maxim that less is more no longer applies. IT teams need options. Though this does not mean surrendering to complexity. The multi-cloud approach may be more intricate, but it can still be managed effectively if careful consideration is paid to both partners and the structuring of the organisation’s internal IT team. It may require more short-term scrutiny, but the sophistication it offers to organisations means it has already proved itself to the most suitable approach to the modern-day challenges of cloud computing.

Sourced by Derek Wang, Chief Architect of Alibaba Cloud Global

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

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