3 ways to get the most out of a multi-cloud

A number three hanging on a wall.

Mark Snyder is a lead cloud architect at Deft, a provider of cloud, consulting, and data center managed services.

As people continue to rely on online platforms to stay connected, businesses are digitally offloading the bulk of their operations onto cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware. And this investment in cloud solutions is growing.

Nearly 70% of organisations using cloud services plan to increase their cloud spending in the wake of the pandemic. This commitment largely drives the predicted 23% growth in public cloud end-user spending for 2021.

The benefits of a multi-cloud strategy also extend to what businesses are doing today. Multi-cloud can be an invaluable resource as a business looks to perform backups with public and private clouds or add flexibility with data analytics. By working with multiple cloud providers, businesses are able to pick and choose which analytics tools best serve their business.

While un-glamorous, it is this support of core functions like data analytics and storage that makes a multi-cloud setup so valuable.

A multi-cloud approach can optimise a business’ scalability, flexibility, and overall spending. Here are three benefits your business should experience with a multi-cloud strategy.

1. Improve Performance by Using the Strengths of Multiple Cloud Providers

Each cloud provider possesses unique capabilities – this is why it’s beneficial to combine clouds when attempting to maximise performance. For instance, Azure is often a popular choice amongst buyers who rely on Microsoft Teams and Office 365, whereas AWS’ breadth of services has driven its position as the industry leader.

Combining different cloud platforms enables businesses to zero in on exact features they feel would benefit their operations without obligating them to pay for features that wouldn’t make an impact. This combination may look like a business using various public clouds, perhaps designating one as a standby for disaster recovery.

However, before making this decision, it’s important to consult with your team and carefully evaluate which cloud platform aligns with your needs. Each business segment may have different needs, which different cloud service providers may serve.

For example, let’s say you have core infrastructure in AWS, but as your workforce transitions to remote operations, you want to use Azure’s digital workstation service. By opting for a multi-cloud approach, your applications and development teams may continue to work in AWS while other teams work in Azure.

Considering your workforce’s geographical location is also important. If you lead a global organisation, then you may find that certain cloud providers are more optimal in one geographic location than another. Additionally, GDPR compliance may dictate whether your company is restricted to a public or private cloud.

2. Gain Flexibility to Scale or Evolve by Avoiding Vendor Lock-Ins

While the allure of exclusive services and deals may be enough for some businesses to commit fully to one cloud provider, the short-term benefit of a cheaper initial price tag is quickly outweighed by the binding nature of a long-term contract.

Logistically, if applications have only been built to function on one platform, businesses will have a difficult time leaving it. So, while your exclusive contract may only last for two years, the time needed to re-program or build out applications for a new cloud platform could be another full year. At this point, re-upping with your existing provider may make the most sense.

The issues with vendor lock-ins largely stem from two possibilities:

1. Your business grows exponentially and you outgrow your vendor. Being stuck with one vendor, in this case, can reduce productivity and limit your company’s ability to scale quickly with the aid of your cloud platform.

2. Your business re-tools and needs to scale back. Being locked in with one vendor in this case means hemorrhaging money on a platform that you no longer optimally use.

Both possibilities compromise your company’s short-term and long-term strategies while losing you money.

Adopting a multi-cloud approach means your applications work on multiple platforms. Similar to the public and private cloud example, this multi-cloud approach fortifies a company’s business strategy and its implementation.

3. Optimise Spending by Paying for the Cloud Services You Need

Choosing multiple cloud platforms enables businesses to shop for the best deals while evaluating which services align with their needs.

Again, signing a contract exclusively with one provider can feel like an easy way to secure a great deal. Most servicers, like AWS or Azure, even incentivise their customers with lower costs and complimentary services. But it’s important to recognise that just as cloud platforms and technologies are rapidly evolving, so, too, will your company’s reliance on such platforms.

One concrete way a multi-cloud approach can save money is through bandwidth costs. AWS makes it easy to get your data in but hard to get it out from a cost perspective. So multi-cloud will make sense for cutting costs if you have a lot of egress bandwidth.

Another cost-cutting measure related to bandwidth is using a private cloud for increased bandwidth activity, since you pay a stable rate for that server. While a public cloud’s utility lies in its elasticity, this can run up costs if you’re housing high amounts of egress bandwidth on your public cloud.

This is why it is so crucial to continuously evaluate your company’s needs and how they may shift with regard to cloud usage.

Maximise the Benefits of Your Multi-Cloud Strategy with Proper Implementation

To get the most out of a multi-cloud strategy, you must keep the objectives you’re hoping to achieve at the center of how it is structured and rolled out. Given the scope of your investment in this project, it’s worth taking the time to ensure the implementation of your multi-cloud approach is as strategic as the decision-making process used in selection. A deliberate approach will help you avoid costly missteps and potential security risks.

This may require deploying a team to monitor bandwidth throughout the transition, or deputising oversight of the implementation of a new multi-factor authentication policy. But by carefully monitoring your teams’ use of multiple clouds from day zero, you’ll be well-positioned to achieve the cost savings and improved performance you need.

Looking to learn how to establish a strategic hybrid cloud? Learn more about the virtual Hybrid Cloud Congress, taking place on 18 January 2022 and explore how to optimise and unleash the power of your hybrid cloud.

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