A multi-cloud strategy, in which an organization hosts its clouds on multiple vendors’ platforms, can enhance application fault tolerance and availability by offering geographically diverse hosting centers. And it gives enterprises the flexibility to leverage the unique strengths of individual cloud providers, including potential cost savings. The days when a multi-cloud strategy was viewed as too complex or too expensive are well behind us, according to several cloud strategists we spoke with during our recent RightScale Compute conference.
Dave Nielsen, principal consultant at Platform D, shares his take on multi-cloud adoption: "Cloud computing provides both an opportunity for quick and easy application development and variety because there's more and more services out there every day. Some developers seem to be perfectly happy getting locked in [to a single cloud]
Chris Henry, head of technology at Behance, sees multi-cloud "becoming a huge thing for a lot of people. Everyone needs to make sure [their applications] to stay up. There is no data center or service on the planet that is capable of staying up all the time. Being able to spread your workload out to many clouds is probably the ideal way to do it. Not to mention that every cloud is going to be good at a certain thing. For example, Rackspace has block storage backed by SSDs, and that was a fantastic fit for us. To be able to pick the right tool for the job, multi-cloud is something people are going to want to adopt."
Still, says Peder Ulander, vice president of product marketing for cloud platform at Citrix, while there's a lot of talk about moving things between clouds, "the reality is it's still fairly new. In the last year it has become mature, whether it's for better uptime, or disaster recovery, or high availability — things that are business-centric for maintaining reliability of their apps and services. Also, people are seeing multi-cloud as an option to optimize their finances. There's a higher cost with private when you initially establish it, but sometimes the economics are better than with the public clouds. Being able to move things back and forth dependent on risk, cost, and efficiency is why we see the growth of hybrid and multi-cloud in the marketplace."
Justin Pirie, cloud strategist at Mimecast, adds, "Multi-cloud adoption is essential for companies to achieve a successful cloud strategy. You've got to keep vendors honest." A multi-cloud strategy can help organizations avoid vendor lock-in, and vendor competition gives enterprises a greater choice of features and cost options.
Cloud industry experts weigh in on multi-cloud adoption
Vanessa Alvarez, head of marketing at Scale Computing, thinks "enterprise IT has no choice but to leverage public cloud as part of their strategic initiatives. That being said, private cloud will always be there for many organizations. The trend toward hybrid clouds will accelerate in the next few years as we start to see public cloud service providers becoming more sophisticated in terms of security, manageability, availability, and disaster recovery."
Some of the experts cited RightScale as a critical tool for multi-cloud management. Brian Goldfarb, head of cloud platform marketing for Google Cloud Platform, says, "From Google's perspective, lots of mission-critical applications should be architected across multi-cloud. One thing about RightScale is that it gives you a simple way to think about multi-cloud."
And Scott Sanchez, director of strategy at Rackspace, says enterprises "should have one cloud strategy. Think about building a cloud for your business that may encompass both public cloud and private cloud. Your users should feel like your business has a cloud. [Solutions] like RightScale help accelerate the adoption of that, by pulling all these things together and abstracting away all the complexities and the differences that inherently come with them and delivering that as one thing."
But while some organizations are considering multi-cloud, many have not yet begun implementing it. Duke Skarda, CTO at SoftLayer (which was recently acquired by IBM), says, "Multi-cloud adoption is still at the front end of what our customers are thinking about. A lot of customers are still trying to figure out how to manage their own internal cloud. Among customers that have already made the jump to the public cloud, multi-cloud solutions are prevalent. They may have storage at one provider, compute at another provider, and databases at a third provider — finding the right provider for a layer of their application."
Our cloud experts' views confirmed the findings of our State of the Cloud survey, which found that the future of the enterprise is multi-cloud. Watch the six-minute video to hear everything these cloud experts and others have to say about multi-cloud. For advice on how to implement a successful private and hybrid cloud strategy using a multi-cloud platform, read the RightScale white paper to get a blueprint for building private and hybrid clouds.