There is little debate that cloud is the future of computing. According to IDC, almost half of IT spending will be cloud-based in 2018 and will reach as much as 70 percent of all software, services and technology spending by 2020.
However, deriving maximum benefits from the cloud is more complicated than merely deciding to opt into cloud computing. Choosing the right cloud environment - from public and private to hybrid and multi-cloud - and the right technologies for constructing it are essential for operating a business at optimum efficiency.
While no one type of cloud architecture of infrastructure is ideal for everyone, more organizations are turning to multiple types of clouds and cloud services at the same time. A typical multi-cloud architecture is made up of one private cloud, operated either by the enterprise or managed by another party, and two public clouds.
Eighty-six percent of 727 cloud technology decision-makers at large companies surveyed this year by Forrester and Virtustream described their cloud strategy as multi-cloud, "with performance and innovation rising above cost savings as the top measures of success." And according to a CBI Insights report, multi-cloud is becoming the de facto architecture for organizations looking to increase application reliability, reduce costs and leverage the best services that each cloud provider has to offer.
Five key factors are driving multi-cloud adoption:
Goodbye vendor lock-in: No customer likes to be dependent on one vendor or to be charged significant switching costs. In the cloud environment, businesses fear having all their data in one cloud infrastructure, putting it at risk if a vendor pulls the plug or when there are service issues.
Price competition: The multi-cloud model gives power to the customer and works against the vendor overcharging and underperforming. Enterprises now enjoy a freedom of choice that allows them to maximize ROI by choosing the most cost-efficient solution. Cost optimization is one of the biggest drivers of multi-cloud adoption.
With the stiff competition among the major cloud providers, companies are able to pick and choose a mix that makes sense for them from both a cost and technical perspective.
Reliability: An always-on infrastructure is a necessity in the digital age. In a multi-cloud model, it's possible for another cloud to take over should the primary cloud suffer downtime, serving as a failover solution.
Optimal application environment: A mix of public and private platforms provides not only an ROI advantage over other models, it also promotes hosting the right applications in the right environments and the use of the best tool for the job, rather than sole reliance upon what a single vendor is able to offer.
The reality is that some vendors have better tools for certain jobs than others, so the ability to pick and choose services from different vendors allows companies to have the best available. Choosing data centre regions or availability zones that are closest to the end user also helps to minimize latency, enabling optimal application performance.
Continuous public cloud innovation: While most companies rely on the public cloud to run virtual servers, a range of other public cloud services are available, from private bare-metal servers, to hosted Docker containers, to serverless computing. The public cloud providers are always upgrading their offerings. This means organizations can move toward more advanced workloads without having to buy, install and operate more infrastructures themselves.
Regulatory compliance: Frequently changing regulatory demands requires infrastructure architecture capable of meeting this fluid environment. Being tied to one vendor for either public or private cloud can result in unnecessary restrictions being placed on the organization.
Frequently, data protection laws require an enterprise to keep data in certain geographic locations for data sovereignty reasons. A multi-cloud architecture ensures that this does not become a hindrance by giving organizations the flexibility to select services and providers from different data centre regions and availability zones.
While there is no one-size-fits-all type of cloud, organizational priorities to create greater efficiencies and enable innovation point to multi-cloud as go-to architecture for getting the most out of the cloud computing revolution.