Why is Multi-Cloud the Future of Resilient Enterprises?

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Multi-cloud adoption offers enhanced resilience, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, security, and innovation for enterprises. It mitigates risks like vendor lock-in, downtime, limited technological progress, and regulatory concerns while optimizing performance and overcoming data governance issues.

The concept of multi-cloud adoption among digital enterprises has emerged in recent years. In a multi-cloud setting, organizations use the services of different cloud service providers to host their applications. Though the presence of cloud service providers to offer cloud services to organizations based on other service delivery models has relieved organizations of the laborious tasks of infrastructure management and development, relying on a single-cloud service provider can be risky for organizations in managing their IT infrastructure. Consequently, the organization relying on the services of a single provider may face Quality of Service (QoS) issues, which may eventually affect their operations.

On the other hand, by using multi-cloud services from different providers, organizations can choose the best cloud provider for each specific application or service, improving resilience and enhancing security, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Multi-cloud is the future of resilient IT enterprises for effectively implementing their operations, as evidenced by the increasing adoption among IT enterprises.

The problems with a single-cloud platform

Organizations that depend on a single-cloud provider face many problems that hinder the efficient and flawless execution of their processes. Some of the problems associated with the single-cloud environment are discussed below:

Vendor lock-in

A critical problem the organizations may encounter is vendor lock-in, where the organization becomes heavily dependent upon a specific cloud provider’s services and proprietary technology. As a result, it becomes difficult for organizations to switch to other service providers. Moreover, vendor lock-in restricts the organization’s ability to benefit from the featured services offered by other cloud providers.

Downtime due to outages

Organizations relying on a single-cloud provider are at risk of financial losses and losing their businesses due to outages or other issues on the provider side. Amazon Web Services (AWS) faced a massive outage in the year 2017, and as a result, the operations of hundreds of organizations, including various popular Websites and apps, were affected.

Limited technological progress

Suppose the organizations restrict themselves to a single-cloud provider. In that case, they may miss the chance to avail the unique and promising services of other providers, as each cloud provider has its specialized services. As a result, the organization’s prospects of keeping up with contemporary technological developments become limited. On the other hand, embracing a multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to benefit from diversified services offered by various cloud providers.

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Regulatory concerns

Usually, cloud providers establish data centers in different geographical areas. Depending upon a single-cloud provider may often result in regulatory concerns or compliance problems for the organization due to the limited availability of services in particular geographical areas. For instance, if data privacy or security laws mandate that the data be stored within the borders, and if the cloud provider does not have a data center in that geographical area, it will result in a compliance challenge for the organization.

Strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Due to reliance on a single-cloud provider, organizations may not be in a better position for favorable negotiations regarding the SLAs due to strict terms and conditions. As a result, they may not receive the best value for the investments.

Increased security and privacy concerns

Security and privacy of the data stored in the cloud is one of today’s most pressing issues. Notably, in the case of a single-cloud that gets compromised due to whatsoever reason, the security and privacy of the stored organizational data are breached.

How does multi-cloud benefit enterprises?

Businesses and enterprises can be benefitted in the following ways by utilizing the services of multiple cloud service providers.

Enhanced resilience and seamless business continuity

The risk of a single point of failure due to the single-cloud is avoided by adopting the services of multiple cloud service providers. In case of outages or issues at a particular cloud provider, the organizations can continue availing the benefits of the other providers, hence avoiding the complete system halts. This ensures continuity in the client organization’s business operations and is an excellent reason for the organizations to switch to this service delivery model.

Better flexibility in service selection

The multi-cloud environment allows organizations to benefit from the specialized services of different providers based on their specific needs. It also enables organizations to scale according to the varying workloads and optimize performance.

Cost-effectiveness

As a result of multi-cloud adoption, organizations can minimize their costs by optimizing their expenditure on procuring cloud services. The costs can be reduced by comparing different pricing models and benefitting from the provider-specific discounts, hence negotiating competitive prices.

Improved security and privacy

Through a multi-cloud strategy, organizations distribute their workloads across multiple providers. As a result, the chances of unauthorized data disclosures due to security and privacy breaches across multiple providers are minimized. However, in a single-cloud provider, such risks are higher, and the confidentiality of the entire hosted data is at stake in case of any breaches.

Innovation and technological advancement

Multi-cloud adoption is instrumental in promoting innovation and technological advancements in organizations. Through a multi-cloud strategy, organizations can benefit by using state-of-the-art technologies and services offered by different cloud service providers.

Overcoming regulatory compliance and data governance issues

A multi-cloud strategy provides organizations with enhanced flexibility to meet the regulatory requirements regarding the selection of cloud providers. Moreover, per the regulator’s guidelines, storing and processing organizations’ sensitive data with multiple cloud service providers overcome data governance issues.

Examples of successful multi-cloud implementations

Several leading organizations are already benefitting from the services of multiple cloud service providers. Capital One, a top US-based credit card and financial company has adopted the multi-cloud strategy to scale with varying workloads, achieve agility, and minimize costs. The company uses the cloud services of multiple providers, including Amazon and Azure, and can negotiate competitive prices and optimized services. The company manages governance over its multi-cloud framework through a disciplined and participative approach.

Likewise, Netflix, a popular streaming service for TV, movies, and documentaries, is another example of an organization adopting the multi-cloud strategy for its business operations through a solution called Spinnaker. To ensure high availability and fault tolerance, the organization uses the cloud services of Amazon and Google Cloud. Through the multi-cloud strategy, Netflix can distribute the processing and streaming workloads to different cloud service providers and ensure the streaming services’ continued availability. Moreover, the multi-cloud deployment has allowed Netflix to prove its global presence across other regions and continents.

Several other large-scale enterprises, such as General Electric (GE), Financial Times, HSBC, etc., also use multi-cloud services to improve agility, flexibility, security, resilience, and cost optimization. Through effective deployment practices and management frameworks, these organizations exploit multi-cloud services to achieve their business and strategic goals.

Conclusion

Relying on the single-cloud environment has various risks and limitations for enterprises. Therefore, adopting a multi-cloud strategy allows organizations to avoid vendor lock-in, improve resilience, promote innovation, mitigate downtime risks and enhance reliability, comply with data sovereignty requirements, optimize costs, and enhance security. By adopting a multi-cloud approach, organizations can benefit from the robust and adaptable IT infrastructure of various cloud providers that aligns with their specific needs and goals, ultimately driving their success in the ever-evolving cloud landscape. However, it is worth mentioning that organizations must overcome several challenges pertinent to the multi-cloud approach, such as increased operational complexity and lack of governance standards, to maximize the strategy’s benefit.

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Assad Abbas
Tenured Associate Professor
Assad Abbas
Tenured Associate Professor

Dr Assad Abbas received his PhD from North Dakota State University (NDSU), USA. He is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), Islamabad campus, Pakistan. Dr. Abbas has been associated with COMSATS since 2004. His research interests are mainly but not limited to smart health, big data analytics, recommender systems, patent analytics and social network analysis. His research has been published in several prestigious journals, including IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing, IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, IEEE Systems Journal, IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics,…