Bob Ivkovic, Principal of IT Architects
August 29, 2019
There’s Public cloud, Private cloud, Hybrid cloud, and now we have Multicloud. So, what is Multicloud? Multicloud is the use of multiple cloud computing and storage services in a single heterogeneous architecture. Specifically, it’s getting all your cloud solutions to work together by using Private clouds and Hybrid clouds with multiple Public cloud components. It allows organizations to orchestrate cloud services from multiple heterogeneous cloud services, as well as specialized Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers.
Multicloud is about choice and choosing the right cloud components from multiple vendors allowing organizations to optimize their cloud solution in support of its business stakeholders. Some organizations have outgrown the cloud capabilities provided by single vendors and require cloud features and capabilities from multiple heterogeneous cloud service providers. Typically, organizations looking for mature cloud capabilities look to the big cloud players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, in addition to specialized PaaS, IaaS), and SaaS providers with unique offerings. Multicloud also considers the use of Private and Hybrid cloud environments that leverage more than one Public cloud platform.
When and Where Should We Use Multicloud?
Multicloud isn’t about replacing your existing cloud infrastructure, but expanding it’s capabilities. Just think of a city. City planners take great care to preserve viable old property assets, replace outmoded assets, and add new invigorating assets – all in the context of an urban modernization infrastructure linking them together as coherently as possible. The Multicloud philosophy mimics city planning. We leverage existing cloud assets and optimize the overall IT capability to better serve the business. For example, Multicloud has become a popular choice offering robust and flexible disaster recovery capability where organizations must guarantee uptime and backups to ensure data integrity. Try doing that across your current cloud configuration or IT infrastructure and you’ll realize that it’s next to impossible.
For organizations considered a Microsoft shop, leveraging some Microsoft Azure services is a no brainer. However, they can better serve the business by introducing innovative cloud services such as Google Cloud for machine learning and analytics, as well as Amazon for public-facing web services. And let’s not forget industry cloud service providers like Dell Boomi who offer cloud-focused digital transformation and data management services for targeted industries such as healthcare, which face regulatory obstacles to modernization – including data storage requirements for regulatory compliance and disaster recovery or business continuity when integrating with public cloud services.
What are the Benefits of Multicloud?
Flexibility is a primary benefit of Multicloud, and leveraging various cloud solutions to meet diverse business requirements. However, while organizations strive to be vendor neutral in their enterprise cloud deployments, some cloud capabilities may benefit from using specific cloud platforms. For example, apps that use Alexa Skills are better served by using Amazon Web Services, as the APIs involved are native to AWS. [Note: Alexa provides a set of built-in capabilities, referred to as skills. For example, Alexa’s abilities include playing music from multiple providers, answering questions, providing weather forecasts, and querying Wikipedia. Alexa Skills lets you teach Alexa new skills.] Of course, compatibility takes precedence over flexibility. It’s important to understand that supported languages and depth of ability for natural language processing varies widely between various cloud providers.
Another benefit of Multicloud is cost savings. We’re all familiar with competitive pricing and the fact that cloud vendors entice their customers to migrate from a traditional, on-premises data center to a Hybrid or Public cloud model. However, there is an important consideration to this “fly-to-the-sky” transformation, namely the time and effort to integrate between clouds and on-prem ERP and legacy systems. Thus, cost savings as a primary motivator can be counterproductive. Customers fail to understand that building interfaces and integration solutions can cost more than the savings they provide.
Is Your Organization a Candidate for Multicloud?
Put it this way, if you’re new to cloud computing, it’s better to focus on a single cloud solution, and at least start addressing immediate business needs. However, in the meantime, develop a cloud strategy to include the type of cloud services and integrations you’ll need to mature your enterprise cloud environment in the future. Strictly speaking, Multicloud is critical for those organizations with a mature cloud deployment dealing with complex data, process, and application integrations. For example, integrations with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, workflow applications in the cloud, tightly-coupled third-party solutions on-prem and cloud may very well be better served by a Multicloud architecture.
Multicloud offers great flexibility in how resources are managed, although the complexity increases depending on the integration requirements. Cloud management platforms comprising the Multicloud ease the deployment and integration of various cloud services. It is important that organization do not succumb to vendor lock-in by their cloud providers, which put up barriers to interoperability, or even put up restrictions to migrating to other cloud solutions. On the flip side, cloud vendors must understand that cloud services are becoming commoditized and it’s by providing integration support and offering differentiated and innovative services that will retain customers.
Transitioning to a Multicloud deployment takes a lot of cloud understanding and consideration of integration to other clouds and applications. Although open source software has allowed us to resolve a lot of vendor lock-in issues, cloud interoperability is still maturing as we overcome vendor proprietary APIs and complicated security requirements. As organizations endeavor to centralize computing resources and standardize across their enterprise, the requirement for a Multicloud depolyment is ever increasing. This becomes even more important for mergers and acquisitions, where separate cloud environments need to be combined and business operations easily migrated to a common cloud infrastructure. In some cases, we may have no choice but to add a secondary public cloud provider for a Multicloud deployment, especially when time and cost are against us.
Mr. Bob Ivkovic is a Principal with IT Architects in Calgary, Alberta. IT Architects (www.itarchitects.ca) is an information consulting firm specializing in business process optimization, system evolution planning, and the deployment of leading-edge technologies. If you require further information, Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-630-1126.