Here’s Why The Future Belongs To Multi-Cloud

by Sohini Bagchi    Feb 20, 2017

Multi-cloud has been discussed within the cloud computing industry for a while, but challenges of interoperability and complexities have often dissuaded enterprises from large scale adoption. Times are now changing, as enterprise awareness of the cloud has increased and many are realizing that the benefits of utilizing multiple platforms heavily outweigh the challenges. This has been the revelation of a recent 2017 State of the Cloud survey released by RightScale, that stated hybrid and multi-cloud adoption increased in the enterprise and will continue to grow manifold in the coming years. [Read the full report here]

 

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Multiple benefits

The sixth annual survey of more than 1,000 IT professionals found 85% of enterprises now have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% in 2016. Meanwhile, private cloud adoption fell from 77% to 72%. The survey also revealed optimizing cloud costs is the top cloud initiative, while cloud challenges, including security concerns, continue to decrease.

Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale said, “Companies report using 8 different clouds on average; optimizing cloud costs is the top cloud initiative; cloud challenges, including security concerns, continue to abate.”

Businesses are also more commonly choosing to work with more than one cloud provider to meet multiple needs. According to a recent study by Microsoft and 451 Research, nearly a third of organizations work with four or more cloud vendors.

Businesses are using multi cloud approach for a number of reasons including operational excellence, shadow IT, and the varying degrees of support from providers. The study showed that this approach improves disaster recovery and geo-presence. With a multi-cloud disaster recovery plan, businesses become more resilient than ever.

Multi-cloud also gives companies the ability to take advantage of cloud data centers based in various geographic regions. Directing traffic to data centers nearest to users based on their location is vital for latency-sensitive applications.

Challenges to overcome

It can be challenging for CIOs to manage operations across different cloud environments and from different vendors. When not monitored and controlled properly, operational issues start stacking up at a rapid speed, leading to difficulty maintaining access control, bug patches and security updates.

Additionally, the flipside to the potential for multi-cloud cost savings is that the complexity of the different cloud environments can make it difficult to understand the pricing differentiators among all of the cloud providers and the various services that they offer, believe experts as a result of which selecting the right vendor/s become the need of the hour.

While the Rackspace study noted that in 2016 AWS adoption remained flat, while Azure continued to gain ground, another study released recently by Synergy Research Group found AWS now controls about 40% of the cloud market, and Microsoft, Google and IBM together control about 23% globally.

Security, still a concern

While security concerns have shown to have reduced in the Rackspace study, a Rackspace roundtable conducted in October 2016 note that multi-cloud does pose security risks and is exposing skills shortages. And therefore security implications of a multi-cloud world need greater attention.

“Customers are struggling to move to a multi-cloud world with skills shortages being one of the major concerns they are wrestling with,” it said which in turn offers technology and channel partners with the  opportunity to bridge the gap.

While challenges exist, studies showed that the benefits of using multiple platforms heavily outweigh the challenges Brian Kelly, chief security officer at Rackspace, however said in a report that the vendor has a responsibility to make it clear what its responsibilities were to ensure that there are no gaps between the service being delivered and the customer expectations.

At the same time, businesses also need to recognize that hybrid multi-cloud security is a multi-layered affair, requiring shared responsibility between users and service providers, coupled with strong security technologies and policies, in order to make their multi-cloud approach a success.