What is multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud is a prominent cloud transformation strategy, allowing businesses to maximise performance and improve efficiency by leveraging multiple cloud environments. But what exactly does this look like, and how can it benefit you? 

In this article, we’ve explored what multi-cloud architecture actually is, as well as the benefits, challenges, and how to migrate to a multi-cloud environment. 

How does multi-cloud work?

Rather than just relying on a single public cloud, multi-cloud solutions allow you to leverage multiple public infrastructures – picking and choosing different elements to best-benefit your business. This way, you can invest in the cloud applications and tools you need to operate most-efficiently. 

How does multi-cloud differ to hybrid cloud?

At surface level, multi-cloud architecture isn’t dissimilar to hybrid cloud – rather than operating within a single environment, you can take features from multiple clouds. 

However, the main difference is that hybrid cloud typically requires you to have at least some on-premises hardware. In contrast, multi-cloud only uses public cloud services, and you don’t need to invest in on-site, physical infrastructure. Instead, you effectively ‘rent’ virtual serves from different providers (such as Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft Azure). 

What are the benefits of multi-cloud?

The key benefits of multi-cloud computing include:

Flexibility

With a multi-cloud strategy, you have complete flexibility over the architecture you create, and you’re not limited to one particular public cloud provider. Instead, you can pick the best services to meet your business needs or specific tasks. 

For instance – one cloud provider might offer low latency, while another might provide particularly excellent data security solutions. With multi-cloud, you can opt for the features you like from different vendors.  

Performance

Multi-cloud can improve business performance, because you’re able to choose the services that facilitate efficiency and support specific tasks and workflows. Rather than relying on a single provider – who might offer good-to-great services – you can leverage multiple vendors and only select the great elements that promote improved performance. 

Reliability

Because multi-cloud allows you to leverage the benefits of multiple public cloud environments, your eggs aren’t all in one basket. What this means is that if one cloud provider experiences an outage, you’re better-protected against downtime – instead, you can move resources to another unaffected environment. In this case, your multi-cloud strategy acts as a virtual safety blanket. 

Cost optimisation

Multi-cloud solutions can be cost-effective, because they allow you to optimise resource allocation and utilisation – so you’re not over-paying for unused capacity. 

Additionally, because you’re operating across multiple environments, you have some strength in the way of bargaining power – by demonstrating to providers how simply you can switch between environments, you’re in a stronger position to negotiate a more favourable pricing model.

Innovation

Multi-cloud strategies can effectively facilitate business innovation, because you’re allowed access to cutting-edge features across a range of public cloud environments – so you’re benefiting from the ever-advancing infrastructures of multiple leading providers. What’s more, you can benefit from scalability and advanced testing environments, which can contribute to faster development. 

Why choose a multi-cloud strategy?

By choosing a multi-cloud architecture, you have flexibility to move and manage resources, to optimise cost, uptime, reliability, and application latency – which contributes to improved performance and front-end user experience. You can pick and choose a combination of cloud products that best-work for your business, rather than using a single platform that might not quite suit each of your circumstances. 

Are there any challenges of multi-cloud architecture?

Of course, while there are plenty of benefits of multi-cloud strategies, it’s equally important to be aware of the potential challenges you might face!

Operational complexity 

When juggling multiple cloud platforms, effectively managing resources is naturally going to get complicated. For instance, each cloud environment might have different interfaces or varying security features, so it’s important to be on top of everything at all times and ensure you’re always monitoring each platform and optimising resource allocation. 

Vendor management

When managing multi-cloud architecture, one of the biggest challenges is handling multiple different providers and their respective processes. Each vendor will have its own management console and billing structures, and there may be little standardisation – so it can be important to work with a cloud professional to effectively-navigate the various environments. 

Data governance

Within a single cloud environment, data management and governance is relatively clear and involves straightforward processes. Your data is all held within a single place, so you only need to follow one set of rules. 

However, things get more intricate when organising data across multiple clouds. This requires robust governance, and technical expertise to manage each provider’s protocols and rules – or you risk your multi-cloud becoming non-compliant. 

Security

Managing any cloud environment comes with security challenges, but multi-cloud solutions introduce specific complexities. By using multiple providers, you essentially increase your chance of vulnerability, by creating more entry points for malicious intent; and maintaining consistent practices across all (sometimes diverse) environments can be complex. 

Of course, these challenges can be mitigated, by implementing consistent processes – such as data encryption – and regularly testing each environment and wider infrastructure. That said, security is a shared responsibility, and by working with a reputable cloud provider, you also reduce your risk. 

Managing costs

You might have noticed that we’ve included cost management as a benefit of multi-cloud as well as a challenge – and that’s because, if not carefully optimised and efficiently managed, the cost of leveraging and operating within multiple environments can quickly creep up. 

However, with the ongoing help of an experienced cloud consultant, as long as you’re managing resource allocation, keeping on top of billing structures, and aware of hidden costs (such as data transfer between providers), multi-cloud strategies can be cost-effective.  

How to migrate to a multi-cloud strategy

If you’re interested in migrating to a multi-cloud strategy, it’s important to follow a few key steps to ensure an effective and efficient transition: 

  1. Review existing infrastructure and identify opportunities for a multi-cloud strategy to align with business goals. 
  2. Develop a migration plan to move resources to the cloud – including designing your cloud architecture and how you’ll distribute resources across multiple providers.
  3. Implement your cloud migration, and make sure the environments are set up correctly (and all data and applications are as they should be). You may choose to migrate everything at once or follow a phased approach. 
  4. Test and validate your multi-cloud strategy to ensure your cloud infrastructure functions correctly – you should also measure security and performance within the new environment. 
  5. Ongoing management and optimisation of cloud environments, to improve efficiency. 

With the above in mind, it’s often advised to work alongside an experienced IT expert when undertaking a cloud migration, to ensure a smooth process. For more information about how you can benefit from multi-cloud strategies, get in touch with our team of consultants, or explore even more advice over on our blog – including our complete guide to cloud computing.


Related Posts

Cloud-IaaS-Solutions

What is a private cloud?

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular and commonplace, but it can sometimes be tricky to navigate the virtual IT landscape. To help you figure out if cloud is right for your business,...

What is a cloud consultant

What is a cloud consultant?

A cloud consultant is an IT professional who specialises in cloud technology and solutions, including having an in-depth understanding of leading cloud providers, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure....

Cloud-IaaS-Solutions

What is Microsoft Azure?

Explore all there is to know about Microsoft Azure, including how it works, Azure’s services and features, and the benefits of this global cloud platform.

redcentric

Redcentric

0800 983 2522 sayhello@redcentricplc.com