As 2018 approaches, the era of multi-cloud has arrived. With virtually all tech leaders and innovators offering robust cloud solutions, there have never been more options for organizations looking to move workloads to the cloud. That makes it easier than ever for companies to avoid vendor lock-in and provision the exact services they want, from whomever they want.
Yet, according to RightScale’s “2017 State of the Cloud Report,” just 28 percent of enterprise respondents indicated they actually use the cloud heavily. Additionally, these enterprises indicated they run just under a third of their workloads in the public cloud. Enterprises know they need a multi-cloud strategy, but it’s clear that there is still a long way to go before the multi-cloud era really takes hold.
There are many reasons why companies move to the cloud and adopt a multi-cloud model. There are three that we hear from companies considering taking the plunge: economics, security and the apps.
Which of these factors could make 2018 the year of multi-cloud, and which aren’t as important as you might think? Let’s separate the hype from the solid business drivers:
There’s no doubt the cloud can help enterprises get away from owning physical infrastructure and all it involves, and there’s a real benefit to that. Enterprises also know the cloud is great for storing data and leaving it there, or for times when app traffic peaks. There’s another thing enterprises are realizing now, too: going to the cloud may not deliver the cost savings they were expecting. This is a far cry from even a few years ago, when costs savings were at the top of every company’s cloud list.
While going to the cloud removes many costs (hardware, management, etc.), it also adds costs. Organizations may have to build out a network to connect to the cloud, for example. Also, while provisioning cloud compute is definitely cheaper for peaks and burst times, it’s not necessarily cheaper for those “normal” times.
Certainly using a multi-cloud model can help avoid vendor lock-in and keep your organization flexible if one provider increases prices. Still, cost is not necessarily a driver for new multi-cloud adoption; be wary if you’re counting on cost savings to drive your move to the cloud.
The cloud is certainly more secure than it used to be, and that security continues to improve. The cloud has always been relatively secure, however. What has really started to change is that chief information security officers (CISOs) and heads of IT have started to recognize that the cloud’s high level of security is oftentimes even better than they can achieve with their own internal security processes. As this awareness increases, and IT leaders recognize the cloud’s security advantages in greater numbers, multi-cloud becomes an attractive option.
It should go without saying, but all your apps are different. The classic examples are consistent usage versus bursty or extremely data-intensive versus those that tax the network and databases less. Today, the leading cloud providers are capable of delivering the advantages to meet these needs. What we’re talking about here goes much deeper.
Just like all your apps are different, all cloud providers are, too. They all offer built-in services that are matched to application-specific needs, and more in-depth analytics capabilities depending on the application. For example, it makes perfect sense that Azure has advantages when it comes to Microsoft apps like SQL Server, and that Google works well for apps with more advanced AI functions. Keep in mind, these advantages span both economics and technology when it comes to the cloud.
So, why would you ever try to run all your apps with the same cloud provider? Matching each of your apps to the cloud that’s the best fit probably seemed unlikely five years ago, but now it’s becoming reality.
In fact, apps may be the biggest factor driving companies toward a multi-cloud future. Organizations considering moving to the cloud will do well to categorize all their apps and take into account what they require as far as performance, storage and access. Then, choose the cloud option that fits each one best. It’s a little more work on the front end, but well worth it in the long run.
Time will tell which of these factors ends up driving organizations to the multi-cloud model. Our best advice right now? We know managing multiple clouds can be difficult, so starting with a primary cloud and adding a single secondary cloud at first is a good way to gain experience before adding more cloud options. When you do add new clouds, remember to be realistic about costs, take advantage of improved security and focus on your apps.
Check out our “Get out of the box” webinar, “Multi-cloud is the new normal and hybrid cloud is inevitable” for more.