Why everyone is switching to multi-cloud solutions
The trend towards the multi-cloud has accelerated since 2020. Representative surveys show that three quarters of German companies are pursuing a multi-cloud strategy. In other words, they are using more than one public cloud provider. Better performance, faster speeds and protection against failure are cited as the main reasons for the move towards the multi-cloud. The positive side-effect is that around 50 percent of those surveyed expect greater flexibility and agility in their IT infrastructure.
With a multi-cloud architecture, the IT department of a company selects the best services from various providers on the basis of their requirements, geographical availability and other factors. It may be, for example, that you use Google Cloud for development, AWS for file hosting and Microsoft Azure for processing your own business data. Possible services of a multi-cloud strategy include the usual cloud computing options, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
The fact that today’s business world is now unthinkable without multi-cloud is confirmed by the study published in February 2021 by the analysis and market research institute techconsult. 72 percent of those surveyed assume that the multi-cloud part of their company will increase or increase significantly in the next two years. 47 percent are using two cloud providers, 37 percent use three and 16 percent use four.
With a multi-cloud architecture, the IT department of a company selects the best services from various providers on the basis of their requirements, geographical availability and other factors.
51 percent of respondents give higher performance as their main reason for using multi-cloud. 35 percent like its reliability and failure safety, and 33 percent welcome less dependence on one provider and avoiding vendor lock-ins. The study ultimately comes to the conclusion that a well-planned, centrally controlled multi-cloud strategy in this country will be the basis for an agile, flexible digital transformation.
Multi-cloud vs. hybrid cloud
So what is the difference between multi-cloud and the hybrid cloud? Hybrid cloud is the term used for the combination of a public cloud and a private cloud and is used when companies do not want to process all of their data in the public cloud for security or compliance reasons. A multi-cloud environment uses the public cloud services of several providers in parallel; a private cloud does not have to be involved, however.
Multi-cloud is being interpreted as an evolutionary level of cloud computing because it represents a type of extension of the hybrid cloud model. In the multi-cloud, the cloud services and platforms of various providers are combined into what looks like a single, big cloud from the user’s perspective. Various different strategies can be pursued. In this way, the IT department can design the optimal cloud for its needs.
Your path to the multi-cloud
Whether a company already has cloud experience or is entering into entirely new territory, the move to the multi-cloud must be well planned and communicated. Cloud migration may be easy to carry out technically, but you should always keep an eye on the organizational challenges and technical limits. The very idea of letting go of its own data center can be difficult to digest for the IT department (keyword: corporate culture).
Both the management and those responsible in the company must have a clear idea of the course of the cloud journey. The strategic objectives of migration are usually the result of a “cloud readiness assessment.” This evaluates how much cloud a company can actually cope with. Can all the applications be carried over? Do some processes have to be adapted to be cloud-compatible? Is the technical infrastructure armed for cloud traffic? And particularly in Germany, the question arises: is the internet bandwidth at the company site adequate?
Fortunately, the multi-cloud idea allows for a gradual approach. For example, the company IT department could begin by restructuring its local architecture to suit the cloud. Then applications and workloads should be migrated gradually to the cloud. By this route, processes and employees can be introduced to the new technology in a transparent way.
What do German companies think of the multi-cloud?
According to a study by the analysis and market research institute techconsult, 51 percent of respondents give higher performance as their main reason for using the multi-cloud, 35 percent like its reliability and failure safety and 33 percent welcome the independence from a single provider and avoiding vendor lock-ins.
The benefits of a multi-cloud
Multi-cloud offers companies the opportunity to use the best of any platform to put together a specific infrastructure that fits perfectly with its business objectives.
A multi-cloud strategy allows maximum control over which platform delivers the best performance, security and productivity for each individual business component.
Even big cloud providers are not immune to failures. A multi-cloud structure can distribute the data load over several providers or several regions of a single provider.
Best solution at the best price
Since every provider has strengths and weaknesses, the multi-cloud approach makes it possible to combine the best features of the individual providers (best of breed).
Provider independence is top of the risk management list for many companies. A multi-cloud strategy is the best way to avoid a vendor lock-in.
The cloud tech quartet
Which cloud provider is best suited to which task ultimately depends on the structure of the business that is moving to the cloud. The first step is therefore to analyze your own requirements so that you can make the right choice of cloud provider. Only at the next stage can you assess which service suits which applications the best.
The advantages of the multi-cloud strategy come to the fore in these decisions. In addition to its flexibility, these include, above all, the opportunity to choose between cloud providers.
Amazon Web Services
AWS is regarded as the leading solution with web scale applications that have to support a large number of users. AWS offers companies extensive resources for PaaS and IaaS. Netflix, Airbnb and Expedia use the Elastic Compute Cloud (ECS) computing resource to offer their services to millions of users throughout the world.
Google Cloud Platform
GCP offers large and small companies alike an extensive range of services and products: computing, storage, networking, big data and machine learning. Its great strength lies in data management. Providers of IoT devices and products like the machine learning functions of the Google platform.
Microsoft Azure is a scalable cloud computing platform for companies and developers who provide cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, and around 200 other services worldwide. Thanks to professionally operated data centers throughout the world, Microsoft guarantees high availability in all regions. Small and medium-sized enterprises use Azure as a hosting solution for SAP systems.
Independent cloud providers
In recent years, alternative cloud providers have increasingly enriched the market. They are attractive to any company that has a problem with leaving its data processes to the US hyperscalers. Their market dominance also restricts the digital sovereignty of the cloud infrastructure in Europe. One response to this is Gaia-X, through which the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is creating a secure, networked infrastructure for Europe.
Throughout the world, large and small companies alike are already relying entirely on the services of several cloud providers and have accepted that their own data center is a thing of the past. It has been replaced by multi-cloud, hybrid and container-based infrastructures. Migration into the cloud promises many benefits, both technical and financial, but it also represents a big challenge when it comes to selecting and optimizing applications. Companies should be clear about the following three points at least before they migrate their business into the cloud.
Maintaining control of complexity and costs. The biggest challenge for IT teams is expertise. The next generation of specialists and experts are difficult to find. This makes it all the more important for a company to do some basic homework, in creating requirement specifications to provide an overview of the complexity and possible costs associated with the cloud migration. Experience shows that central management is the key to a successful multi-cloud strategy.
Rethinking security. Putting applications onto the multi-cloud entails a lot of online traffic, which can be attacked in many different ways. A company’s IT should not just rely on its providers for comprehensive protection of its cloud business. Add-on security solutions are often complicated and difficult to configure. Instead, experts recommend security modules that can be integrated into the load-balancer solution.
Overview of all applications. If applications are running in several environments on several clouds, monitoring is more difficult than with a single data center. Cloud management platforms can provide the answer here. They bring the various cloud providers together under one management interface. Ideally, cloud management of this sort will record and visualize the entire IT landscape, so that central administration of all resources and services is ensured.
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