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Multicloud by design: Making a cloud environment that truly works

Stephen McConnell, CTO at Cloud Gateway, explores why multiple cloud services and providers may just be the answer for many businesses looking to shape their own future as much as possible.

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We all know the saying: you can’t have it all. The same applies to the cloud providers – a single one cannot give and be everything you need.

Increasingly we are seeing customers demand higher standards from their cloud services in an effort to reduce savings and security risks, as well as enhance their flexibility. In a landscape that is always changing, many sectors are feeling the need to keep up with technology or even try to be one step ahead of it. To meet these complex requirements, companies may want to look a little wider than their single cloud provider set-up and into the world of multicloud.

Are two (or more) clouds better than one?

IBM defines multicloud as “the use of cloud services from two or more vendors”. The reason behind this choice is often to do with flexibility, where customers avoid being locked-in by a single vendor contract and seize back control over their cloud infrastructure.

A multicloud approach can give companies the opportunity to strategise and plan ahead of time, setting out where different data resides, as well as how the wider infrastructure is designed for accessibility and ease of use. Many of the top players in cloud are known for having different strengths and weaknesses, meaning customers can patch together services that meet their businesses’ unique needs. This has led to multicloud being a highly popular choice, with up to 85% of businesses using two or more cloud platforms according to Deloitte.

On the other side

One of the key appeals of multicloud is the opportunity to sew together a tapestry of tools that achieve the unique outcomes that a business has been seeking. But, with much still to learn about what we can do with cloud, many internal teams won’t have the skills to manage multiple cloud services and the tapestry will look more like a tangled ball of yarn.

For some, business requirements will result in the adoption of several services from a number of different providers – all of which will have differences in rules around security and compliance. When looking at the bigger picture, it’s overwhelming to meet and manage each. Additionally, there will be teams who are not network or IT specialists. In fact, only 13% of businesses have a dedicated cloud team and 6% of UK businesses have all their staff cloud certified.

The knowledge involved in managing all of these components is significant and the workload is not to be underestimated. Despite this, there are tools that can help streamline and manage multicloud infrastructures, where consumption of services from multiple providers can be standardised to come through the same gateway. Introducing a network management supplier also fills in any of those knowledge gaps and acts as an extra resource for advice on how to approach multicloud properly.

Whatever the approach, businesses should take the time to reflect on their needs and evaluate which providers fit them best. Keeping costs under control is always a primary concern and this is unfortunately harder to do when cloud usage is increased. These costs must be fully understood so businesses can make informed decisions that take future requirements into account too, rather than hastily onboarding new services and providers as a quick fix. A multicloud network management platform can provide the flexibility needed to keep everything neatly in place while preventing spiralling costs.

The role of supercloud in future cloud infrastructure

Supercloud emerged back in 2016 and is described by a research group at Cornell University as “a cloud architecture that enables application migration as a service across different availability zones or cloud providers”. Supercloud has the potential to remove some of the complexity associated with managing multiple cloud environments across different providers, boosting efficiency and productivity. It offers these benefits by granting businesses the power to maintain synced-up data regardless of how many environments its being used over.

It promises a very utopic future for multicloud infrastructure, one where clouds could become equal and managed agnostically. However, supercloud is a very young concept and has a lot of room to grow. As businesses continue to embark on their multicloud endeavours, they may one day get to explore it as a potential revolution in cloud computing and the solution that provides benefits to consumers rather than their providers.

But for now, businesses should look to grow their expertise and vision around what cloud connectivity could be for them. If you’re wanting to escape the rigid contracts that leave your business without the wiggle room to flex, introducing multicloud infrastructure can be the answer to achieving exactly what your business needs and more. The possibilities are wider than you think.

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