A multi-cloud strategy refers to when a business uses two or more cloud-computing services simultaneously. A multi-cloud deployment generally means an implementation of a mix of public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) environments, such as Google Cloud Platform (CGP) or Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is a strategy thats use has grown rapidly among organizations and according to a 2017 RightScale survey, 85% of enterprises have multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% the year before.
The reason most organizations initially developed a multi-cloud strategy was because of the uncertainty about cloud reliability. It was seen - and continues to be seen by some companies - as a way to protect a business from losing data due to a failure in the cloud system. Having data spread across more than one cloud system was a more secure option. Businesses were also driven by concerns about avoiding vendor lock-in which the adoption of a multi-cloud strategy could tackle.
The drive for organizations to develop a multi-cloud strategy today is more to do with the enterprise' technical goals or their broader business plan. This can mean using the capacity, features or speed offered by a cloud provider in a particular geographical location or taking advantage of more price-competitive cloud services. Additionally, data sovereignty can influence a company's decision to rely on multi-cloud software. When regulations or policies require some of an organization's data to reside in certain locations, multi-cloud computing allows organizations to select from multiple IaaS provider's data center regions or availability zones. Employing multi-cloud strategy also allows organizations to locate compute resources as close as possible to users to ensure the best performance.
A multi-cloud strategy also allows the organization to employ varied cloud features from different providers since some cloud environments are a better fit than others for a particular task. Using a multi-cloud strategy means that the business is less dependent on the vendor, which allows the organization to optimize their costs. The lack of dependency also gives peace of mind that data is secure. Using several clouds also means that the business is able to find the optimal cloud service for a particular technical need. It also increases the redundancy of data, again enhancing security.
Adopting a multi-cloud strategy comes with its drawbacks too. Using multiple cloud providers increases the burden on the ops team, as they will have to automate for different cloud providers and account for their specifics, among other challenges. Its also difficult to find employees who know one cloud provider well, so finding staff who can work effectively across multiple cloud providers is a real challenge. Most public cloud providers offer volume discounts where prices are reduced when a customer buys a greater amount of a certain service, so when using multi-cloud strategy it's more difficult to qualify for these discounts. Workload or application management when using multi-cloud computing is often a challenge, as information moves from one cloud platform to another.
Overall, a multi-cloud strategy can be a very effective way for a business to store data for maximum security and to meet the organizations' technical requirements, however, for smaller enterprises, it's worth taking into account the burden on staff and the increased costs that can result.