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What’s Your Multi-Cloud Strategy? Part 1

What's your multi-cloud strategy?

Why you need an answer to the question, “What’s your multi-cloud strategy?”

Here’s the scenario: Your CTO/CIO walks into your workspace and casually announces, “So… at the E-staff offsite last week, we agreed we need to have a multi-cloud plan. Or you’re told, “We’re shutting down the data center in three months. We have 200 applications that need to be moved over to the cloud. What’s the plan?” 

If you haven’t had this conversation yet, consider yourself fortunate. You have time to prepare, and The Cloud Pragmatist is here to help with some considerations as you plan your response. 

Before we delve into the “how,” let’s first consider the “why” of the matter.

Whether you are still maintaining an on-premises data center, or currently operating in a single cloud, there are numerous business reasons for the seemingly sudden, urgent need for a formal multi-cloud strategy. Here are just a few possible motives:

1. Different services run best in different clouds

The services offered by major cloud providers include a wide variety of database services, analytics tools, and machine learning (ML) capabilities, to name just a few categories. 

A multi-cloud network architecture allows you to consume multiple services that may run best in different clouds, providing the optionality and flexibility of leveraging the best-of-breed services available in each cloud. 

As new business requirements develop or evolve, an existing cloud may not meet the new need, thus creating demand for a multi-cloud approach.

2. Leveraging skillsets of teams familiar with different clouds

For global enterprises, teams in one location may not be comfortable with the incumbent cloud provider, as these teams may be more familiar with a different CSP’s offerings and protocols. That skills gap can create pressure to move to a multi-cloud approach to avoid having to retrain a team or hire people with experience with the incumbent CSP.

3. Geographic data residency and regulations

Your organization may require data residency in locations that are unavailable through your current CSP, or any single provider for that matter. Specific geographic needs may be driven by compliance or policy requirements, local legal mandates, or simply geographic proximity to end-users. As a result, data residency is often a driver of implementing a multi-cloud approach. For example, a customer in Singapore hosting its services in CSP A, which only has a single region, can leverage CSP B to meet the law of land requirement that data never leaves the country.

4. “Future-proofing,” or merely preparing for the future

The future is uncertain. The cloud landscape is rapidly evolving, and CSPs are rolling out new services to give businesses a competitive edge. Many CTOs/CIOs see preparing a multi-cloud strategy as a hedge against unforeseen changes and a way to quickly align themselves to business priorities. Implementing a multi-cloud strategy gives you options as business leaders look to upgrade product and service offerings, support new cloud environments due to M&A events, expand customer support options, or expand into new markets or territories. 

5. Business continuity and vendor lock-in 

Disaster recovery and disaster avoidance are key aspects of an enterprise business continuity strategy. Recent CSP outages are a stark reminder that failures happen and even a multi-region redundancy in a single CSP may not be sufficient. To minimize business disruption, the trend of having a vendor agnostic microservices infrastructure (such as Kubernetes) that can leverage multiple CSPs will continue to grow. Moreover, a multi-cloud approach also allows businesses to fall back on a different vendor fabric if any major security or performance issues arise with a specific CSP implementation.

So… What’s your plan?

Even if you are never asked the dreaded question, it’s a great idea to plan ahead, so you’re not caught in an emergency situation, where urgent action is required… and mistakes are made. You don’t want to discover after the fact that your hastily implemented multi-cloud solution is missing critical visibility and control, and your security is severely compromised, or you simply have the wrong cloud matched to the wrong applications or business-unit needs. 

In “What’s your multi-cloud strategy? Part 2,” we provide tips on how to approach your multi-cloud planning, and some common mistakes to avoid.

Also, don’t miss The Cloud Pragmatist, Episode 2—Cloud Migration: Preparing for New Security Risks and Opportunities.