Multicloud is a frequently cited topic in IT trade publications these days. Multicloud is defined in a few different ways depending upon the source, but for this article, we will define multicloud as the practice of using services from multiple, heterogenous cloud services, including public, private cloud, and software as a service (SaaS).
To understand multicloud, let’s take a quick look at the history of cloud computing. Many software developers got started with Amazon Web Services and Azure in the late 2000s. By using these cloud platforms, developers could write and deploy applications without the rules, regulations and oversight of the traditional IT department. The always-on nature of these cloud services, easy entry via a credit card, and ever-growing feature sets helped these mega-cloud providers grow loyalty by appearing as a one stop shop for all things related to IT infrastructure.
But one tool is rarely right for every job. Traditional enterprise and line-of-business applications often were difficult or impossible to implement on these new cloud platforms. Cost models for different clouds were highly variable and difficult to predict. Performance varied dramatically across cloud providers, so one application might perform fine on one platform and miserably on another.
Companies that adopt a multicloud strategy typically are pursuing a best of breed approach; they are choosing the right cloud provider for each of their applications as they relate to the business requirements. Here’s an example: Let’s say that the primary line-of-business application needs to be fast and has a requirement to run on Windows, and the IT staff is well-trained on VMware. The best of breed solution for that application might be a cloud provider that delivers native VMware and Windows with verifiable high performance and a predictable cost model. The same business might use AWS or Azure for the application development team because it offers unique development tools and a cost model that aligns well with temporary infrastructure needed for application development and testing.
Other reasons that companies adopt multicloud strategies include hedging on risk associated with a single provider, and early-stage cloud evaluations when companies aren’t sure which cloud might be the best choice.
Outcomes like performance, availability, technical support and risk management are the best metrics when choosing a multicloud strategy. If your organization is comfortable trading some complexity for the best of breed approach, then multicloud may be the best solution for you. Interested in discussing your application portfolio and your cloud strategies? Contact me and we can talk more about choosing the right cloud for the job.