18 May 2020

Multi-Cloud should solve problems, not create more

Written by Steve Martin - Head of Channel

Anyone old enough to remember the Monty Python movie Life of Brian will recall the joke about the Judean resistance fighters splitting into different warring factions. Sometimes, talking about the cloud feels like a never-ending version of that classic gag.

This is because once organisations started transitioning to a cloud strategy, it became clear there was no such thing as the cloud, but, instead, there are many clouds. Over the last few years there’s been debate about “which cloud is best?” Do you opt for in-house environments versus cloud? Or, public versus private cloud?

These debates quickly concluded that, of course, “we need them all”. This is what’s now referred to as Hybrid Cloud which can be defined as an IT environment including an eclectic, integrated mix of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services and utility style public cloud platforms.

From Hybrid to Multi-Cloud

However, this sort of Hybrid architecture doesn’t solve all customer problems either. There are just as many unique iterations of cloud inside a public or private cloud service as there are business problems to be solved. Which is why “Multi-Cloud” has gathered momentum in recent years.

The concept of Multi-Cloud has been a significant step forward in the way we think about cloud, despite there still being confusion in the market about what it actually means.

Few people in an organisation are invested in where data resides. Users just care that it is available when they need it and IT managers just want efficient platforms that ensure they safeguard and support the application of that data effectively. Each new data project or workload can often see the project lead make use of the cloud platform that they prefer or that best leads to the objectives of that individual instance.

This has resulted in most organisations using a range of clouds, selecting the solutions that best suit their specific needs around specific tasks, resulting in the Multi-Cloud phenomenon.

Multi-Cloud doesn’t mean going all-in on cloud

A January 2020 TECHnalysis Research study covering 600 US-based, cloud-enabled medium and large businesses showed that they use an average of over 15 different cloud workloads on an average of 4.7 different platforms. However, the same research showed that 31% of workloads were utilising on-premise legacy infrastructure.

While this supports the proliferation of Multi-Cloud using the best tool and getting the best outcome for the requirements, the challenge organisations now face is the complexity of moving data seamlessly around Multi-Cloud architectures.

If you’re running on cloud platforms such as Microsoft, AWS, Google, Oracle or IBM Cloud, access to the data and apps stored on them is not instantaneous. Known as latency or round-trip time, delays are created as data travels back and forth between multiple clouds and your own inhouse infrastructure, before reaching you or your customer.

A great advantage of Multi-Cloud is that it gives organisations the ability to pick and choose the components of cloud providers that achieve the most important outcomes based on proximity, performance, and costs.

One of the key success factors for Multi-Cloud is re-architecting your workloads to take advantage of the right cloud components for the right tasks. It’s highly feasible these days to run an e-commerce workload leveraging AWS for the customer-facing front end, Azure for back end inventory and customer data, Oracle Cloud for financials, all integrated with components of in-house IT. We have customers in NEXTDC facilities using exactly this sort of Multi-Cloud array.

Removing the speedbumps

The second success factor for Multi-Cloud is the proximity of your clouds in comparison to your physical IT infrastructure. Distributed environments and the increased reliance on digital platforms have seen this become a crucial factor that underpins the success of the environment. Organisations can’t afford the unpredictability of Internet speed, latency and associated cost of data travelling between their on-premise data centre and various clouds.

Housing your corporate IT where your clouds live immediately eliminates this problem, which is why hosting availability zones or directly connecting to your cloud platforms from the same environment is a critical point of difference in the selection of a data centre.

Organisations who fully leverage the benefits of optimised Multi-Cloud put themselves in the driving seat to create competitive advantage while also mitigating against the risk of business interruption. By taking advantage of the enhanced agility, flexibility and security that is afforded by proximity and direct connectivity to clouds, there is extended opportunity to innovate, disrupt and create outstanding customer experiences from better performing websites and applications. In a world of constant change, it opens up a range of new levers which support the need to pivot, accelerate and scale in line with business needs of the broader business.

Reach out to a specialist to find out more about how we can help you optimise your Multi-Cloud strategy and accelerate your digital-first objectives.