Multi-Cloud Computing’s Risks and Rewards — and a Roadmap for Success
Once organizations decide to adopt public cloud and begin thinking about migration, they encounter a new challenge: planning the details of their new IT ecosystem. Aiming for a hyper-optimized environment that takes advantage of different public cloud providers’ unique benefits, more organizations are turning to multi-cloud solutions. In fact, 2020 IDG data shows that 55% of organizations have adopted a multi-cloud computing strategy.
Multi-cloud solutions involve an organization delegating workloads to different public or private clouds. This approach is distinct from hybrid cloud architecture, in which an organization uses a combination of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure.
Enterprises usually undertake multi-cloud as a “best of all worlds” strategy — in an Ensono survey, over half of multi-cloud users said taking advantage of different providers’ specialties drove their decision. But in practice, multi-cloud is more complicated. Moving to multi-cloud computing without the proper strategy and organizational resources often unearths new challenges — the last outcome leaders want from an initiative designed to streamline legacy processes.
As you consider leveraging multiple clouds for your IT environment, it’s worthwhile to assess the risks and benefits of this strategy. More complex infrastructure can pay off, but long-term cloud success starts with careful planning and preparation.
The Benefits and Challenges of a Multi-Cloud Environment
Organizations that adopt a multi-cloud strategy do so for several key reasons. Most notably, they are looking to avoid the vendor lock-in that often comes with moving to a public cloud provider like AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. In these situations, organizations end up leaning on the provider for applications across their organization. These “locked-in” relationships force businesses to continue with a provider even if certain workloads (or the business as a whole) would be better served elsewhere.
A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to avoid being locked in to one provider, making it easier to adapt to changing financial, business and technology factors. You avoid relying on any single public cloud platform, establishing another layer of business resilience. Whether a vendor’s service quality becomes an issue, your organization’s needs change or some other issue interferes, a multi-cloud environment gives you the flexibility to respond.
Along with freeing you from vendor lock-in, using more than one cloud provider gives your business more flexibility. With several public cloud options at your fingertips, you can innovate without the constraints of a specific provider’s offerings. In a larger enterprise, individual segments of the business then have the freedom to use the tools that best support their goals. In a multi-cloud strategy, you tailor your environment to your workloads, capitalizing on strengths like Google’s open source expertise or Microsoft’s built-in links to on-premise systems.
This approach also carries security advantages, particularly for organizations under strict data privacy laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. With multiple cloud systems, businesses can better separate data and lower risks of unintended exposure.
There is no single way to build a multi-cloud environment — and that is, in essence, its appeal. Your environment is what you make of it. You may boost performance by spreading infrastructure as a service (IaaS) across several clouds, or use separate clouds for IaaS, platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). However, this operational freedom comes at a price.
Multi-cloud management is significantly more complex than navigating other environments. Data spread across several clouds makes it more difficult to discover which applications are running and where data is stored. Since public clouds aren’t typically designed to integrate with the offerings of their competitors, third-party tools become necessary to efficiently manage all clouds at once. Even with these tools, moving data among clouds is costly and difficult. Security is also an issue because you have to learn multiple security tools and centralize monitoring using a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) tool.
While organizations may embrace a multi-cloud environment for the sake of leveraging each providers’ unique capabilities, this may not play out in practice. Achieving standardization and easily moving between platforms sometimes means resorting to “lowest common denominator” features, sacrificing each cloud’s native services for the sake of interoperability. These compromises may also come with increased costs, with split environments causing your organization to miss out on volume discounts for each provider.
Another significant consideration that comes with multi-cloud management is IT staffing and resources. While a traditional public cloud ecosystem requires expertise with just one provider, multi-cloud deployment demands a much wider skill set. Whether you invest resources to train your existing staff, or build distinct teams for each cloud, addressing this issue is key to long-term cloud success. If your organization doesn’t have the resources in place to manage applications and data across clouds, you may consider holding on this approach or seeking the support of a managed services provider.
Despite these challenges, multiple clouds can be the right strategy for some organizations — particularly larger organizations with the resources to tackle the transformation effectively. Success in a multi-cloud deployment comes down to two critical factors: smart strategy and a reliable partner.
Finding a Partner for Multi-Cloud Management
The right cloud partner provides the tools and knowledge you need to create an effective multi-cloud strategy. Managing data across clouds has significant implications, even beyond the desired outcomes that prompted your move. An expert managed public cloud services provider will address these issues from the beginning, helping you build an environment that factors in your goals, platform trade-offs and more.
Handling multi-cloud architecture can overwhelm IT teams. A cloud-agnostic partner alleviates these issues, enabling you to take advantage of each public cloud’s capabilities, while avoiding vendor lock-in and excessive costs. Selecting the right managed service provider is essential, especially for smaller organizations without the capacity to devote entire teams to each cloud. In these partnerships, the provider is an indispensable part of the business’s IT team.
Reaping the rewards of multi-cloud deployment requires a reframing of public cloud and a smart strategy from day one. When your provider takes an approach that enables a comprehensive view of your IT ecosystem, you benefit from multi-cloud while navigating its unique constraints.
Ensono’s Comprehensive Multi-Cloud Support
Multi-cloud architecture can be a powerful tool in your organization’s growth — but only if you start with the right blueprint. Individual business areas may pursue their own solutions eventually anyway, so building a plan now helps you avoid shadow IT solutions. As you contemplate the value of multiple clouds for your organization, Ensono is here to help you make the right decisions and ensure the successful adoption of your cloud strategy.
With a cloud-agnostic approach to managed public cloud services, we help you make the right choice for your business now, setting you up for future operational success. Our unbiased approach means you benefit from strategic insights developed with only your best interests in mind. Multi-cloud requires thoughtful strategy to execute well, and Ensono has the expertise to support you in this journey. With AWS MSP Partner and Azure Expert MSP certifications, our in-depth public cloud expertise paves the way for a smooth transition to multi-cloud.
After years of managing data across clouds for many clients, we have developed a common set of tools that cover your entire environment, providing a common cloud management platform with a single pane of glass. Centralizing management is often the biggest engineering effort when taking on more than one cloud. At Ensono, we’ve already gone through this process so your organization doesn’t have to.
There’s more than one route to achieving your multi-cloud architecture goals. Ensono will guide you toward the best path. Our expert teams will help you create a sustainable environment, avoid common pitfalls of adopting multiple clouds, and navigate the demands this approach places on your IT teams.
Looking for expert support on your multi-cloud journey? Contact Ensono to learn more about our managed multi-cloud services.