Multicloud: CIOs embrace mix and match

With more and more enterprises determined to run their applications and workloads in the cloud, they are keen to avoid vendor lock-in and a single point of failure. So instead of placing all their eggs in one basket, many enterprises are now embracing a multicloud strategy. And the industry is supporting them by making it easier to move workloads between clouds.

The mix-and-match of public clouds, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and private clouds isn’t news. Enterprises have long been utilizing this technique to address ever-evolving business demands. Not only does the multi-cloud approach bestow upon enterprises the flexibility to utilize the best-in-breed cloud service providers in the market, it also ensures that multiple business functions and requirements are met. Examples include business application needs, cost, performance and regulatory compliance.

With the cloud landscape continually evolving, public cloud providers can sit in both the public and private cloud or hybrid camps. Hyperscale providers are currently investing in technologies that recognize that some applications will remain in private data centers, but with the relevant APIs, can also transition smoothly to public cloud services, making the dual utilization of the multiple public clouds versus private cloud, data center route as seamless as possible for users. Suddenly, having all one’s eggs in either basket – the public cloud or the data center – doesn’t seem like a viable option anymore.

“Cloud shift is not just about cloud. As organizations pursue a new IT architecture and operating philosophy, they become prepared for new opportunities in digital business, including next-generation IT solutions, such as the Internet of Things,” explains Ed Anderson, research vice president at Gartner. “Furthermore, organizations embracing dynamic cloud-based operating models position themselves far better for cost optimization and increased competitiveness.”

Each cloud is built differently

This approach is gaining momentum so rapidly that IDC believes by 2020, 90 percent of enterprises will be utilizing multiple cloud services and platforms, with more than one-third of these possessing mechanisms to more efficiently operate within diverse multi-cloud environments.

Cloud re-defines the firewall

For many enterprises, avoiding vendor lock-in is about being able to ensure portability between different frameworks and platforms to achieve optimum performance and security efficiencies. This could mean many things for enterprises, from moving to a new provider, setting up an IT continuity plan or bursting data onto a new platform for heightened efficiency. According to the Cloud Standards Customer Council, achieving interoperability and portability are fundamental ingredients in developing a strong multi-cloud strategy grounded on integration.

“Gone are the days where a one-size-fits-all cloud solution would be sufficient to tend to all your business needs,” explains Derrick Loi, the global head of Orange Cloud for Business International. “Many organizations still have existing production workloads tied up in legacy applications – workflows that are best left on a private cloud. Not to mention personal data records and high-priority data analytic workloads, which require frequent structured queries that need to be carried out quickly. However, for DevOps and non-mission critical data, such workloads can be easily auto-scaled on a public cloud – a far easier feat compared to its execution on a private cloud – due to it being the natural home for cloud-native applications.”

There are also the issues of data localization laws in countries such as China and Russia, which require a private cloud or local computing resources. Additionally, legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, demands that enterprises are aware of the precise location of their data and the purpose of its various uses, along with many vertical sector mandates, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the U.S. Multi-cloud enables enterprises to meet these regulatory and compliance requirements due to the flexibility of choice in terms of where their cloud data resides.

The pioneering face of multicloud

With new cloud innovations being released and a multitude of cloud providers emerging as specialists in niche fields, it only makes sense for enterprises to leverage the best capabilities from each different cloud vendor to gain a competitive edge over their industry counterparts.

For example, Orange Business addresses customers’ bi-modal IT challenges with Flexible Engine, an OpenStack-based cloud service which can play well with private OpenStack deployments.

“On one hand, enterprises are responsible for keeping the lights on – which forms the cornerstone of every business. On the other hand, enterprises are also prioritizing the importance of innovation and agility. Obtaining these timely actionable insights from existing data not only aids in better understanding one’s customers, but also enables them to ‘uber-ize’ business models and create new revenue streams,” explains Loi.

When deploying these new initiatives, enterprises need to keep in mind that the cloud solutions they require should provide openness, seamless integration and connectivity to drive innovation. Nevertheless, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Taking it a step further, harnessing innovative multicloud tools and services would place enterprises in a much more robust position to drive their businesses forward in society’s cloud-centric age.

Microservices boost multicloud app creation

The rise in application proliferation and the need to develop applications quickly has also been increasingly popular within the multicloud and DevOps arena, due to the rise of microservices.

This isn’t a foreign term. Microservices have been described as bite-sized services that are quick to deploy and make it easy for enterprises to add new functionalities to their applications. They break down the development and release of applications into smaller, modular forms, enabling applications to upgrade and evolve upon its easy installation – making it one part of a bigger-picture application. These containerized microservices are managed by tools such as Docker and Kubernetes.

The portability of containers for microservice applications makes them easy to move from cloud to cloud. Perhaps then it is of little surprise that there is a growing trend for major cloud providers to support the access of microservice through various cloud providers aimed at accelerating the construction of multicloud applications.

But here is a noteworthy caveat: “With every multicloud scenario, enterprises will want to ensure that the workload management across cloud in terms of provisioning, change management, monitoring and dynamic billing is not only user-friendly and automated, but also secure – and the various clouds are well connected by reliable connectivity. This will ensure that your customers and employees will be able to fully utilize these cloud applications without worry of disruption,” says Loi.

Efficient data management

A multicloud strategy enables enterprises to capitalize on the best of what cloud has to offer, thus reaching its business goals; it could be things like greater cost savings, higher performance, increased scalability or sturdy operational efficiency.

Each cloud provides different compute and storage options at different prices. When selecting cloud services, it is essential they provide an accurate scope to enable new applications and services, be they on the public cloud or on premise. With the growth in maturity of cloud management platforms and associated tools, enterprises can then decide the environment best suited for each and every application.

Moving forward

A set of cloud offerings laid out on a menu is a bygone, one that doesn’t work anymore due to the lack of choice. Enterprises greatly rely on these choices to satisfy the demands of multiple applications and disparate global users. The development of a well-thought-out multicloud strategy grants enterprises autonomy when it comes to cloud vendors. But a more pressing urgency, it enables enterprises to embrace the digital flow, evolving into a dynamic and agile business aided by the right clouds to benefit their business.


Find out more about the essential management of a multicloud model in our eBook: Create a cloud experience your business can depend on.