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The Future of the Datacenter is Multicloud

For too long IT organizations and the datacenters they run have been cost centers bogged down with elaborate processes that stymie innovation. The advent of cloud computing has transformed IT service delivery, providing unprecedented levels of flexibility and agility. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google offer an array of IaaS and PaaS options for public cloud, though users pay a premium for the convenience. For on-premises datacenters, the emergence of hyperconverged infrastructure meant that enterprises got fast and simple operations while keeping the technology in-house to satisfy requirements around privacy, data sovereignty, and the like.

As both public and private cloud continue to mature, many companies opt for both, leveraging multiple clouds to satisfy their diverse enterprise computing needs. Multicloud allows companies to choose the right cloud for each workload, be it a mission-critical core application such as enterprise resource planning, or cutting-edge cloud-native analytics apps. With multicloud, IT gets to focus on the key drivers of enterprise innovation and differentiation–applications and data.

In this blog, we’ll give you a quick overview of the advantages and challenges associated with setting up multicloud and provide a checklist to help guide you in your selection process.

The Benefits of Multicloud

Multicloud combines on-premise operations with services and applications running on multiple cloud providers, which enables organizations to capture the benefits of each platform while mitigating their downsides.

For example, an IT organization might use one public cloud service with inexpensive storage, a different public cloud with unique native applications, a private cloud for sensitive customer data, and on-premise infrastructure for handling AI/ML workloads.

Early multicloud adoption was driven by a basic distrust of cloud services. No one wanted to put all their eggs in one basket in case of a critical failure. While this fear has diminished over time, there are other key benefits of multicloud for enterprises:

Optimized Performance for Each Application

Each public and private cloud has its own advantages and drawbacks. With multicloud, companies can assemble the infrastructure that best suits their various needs, providing optimal flexibility and scalability for some applications, and optimal control and security for others. The result is the right performance, cost, and control for each application and use case across the organization.

Data protection and disaster recovery are a perfect use case for multicloud. Traditional DR services are expensive and offer less-than-optimal recovery point objective and recovery time objective. With multicloud, companies can use cheap, scalable public-cloud storage to keep unlimited snapshots of VMs and local disks. Sensitive data like customer financial history can be backed-up securely using private cloud storage.

Improved Data Governance

Data privacy regulations like GDPR (a now all-too-familiar acronym) and the Consumer Privacy Act in California are forcing enterprises to rethink how they manage user data. Striking a balance between cost-effectiveness, performance, and compliance is nearly impossible without the use of multiple infrastructure platforms.

The multicloud model allows organizations to run workloads on different platforms to maximize each of these factors. They can store massive amounts of non-sensitive data on public clouds while keeping private user data safe and secure on private clouds or on-premise infrastructure.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Some organizations are deterred by the initial price of a multicloud platform. In fact, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is often significantly lower than traditional infrastructure. According to IDC research, multicloud platforms can save companies 40-60 percent on IT expenses over time. Here’s why:

  • Flexible Cost Management. Multicloud offers flexible cost options. Depending on the application, companies can choose the CapEx model– where storage is set with a predefined limit to cap expenses– or OpEx, when scaling is a priority and storage levels are limitless. Moreover, new cloud cost optimization tools provide visibility into cloud consumption patterns and recommend the right cloud based on your requirements.
  • No Vendor Lock-In. Because multicloud solutions are 100 percent software-based, IT organizations can use the hardware, hypervisor, and cloud services of their choice. This gives companies total control over the cost and performance of their IT infrastructure.
  • Lower Operational Costs. Using public and private clouds reduces the management burden on IT. However, as we’ll see in the next section, operational costs can remain stubbornly high without the right multicloud solution.

As you can see, each of these issues determine TCO, which is why it is crucial to have a clear understanding of all of these variables when comparing the financial impact of different IT models.

The Challenges of Multicloud

Despite the obvious benefits, there are still a number of challenges that IT organizations must overcome to get the most out of a multicloud datacenter:

  • Complex infrastructure. Traditional infrastructure with separately-sourced servers, storage, and networking is costly and time-consuming. IT spends far too much time installing and configuring new equipment while making sure it integrates with the existing environment. No fast-moving business (and aren’t they all, nowadays?) can afford to linger in this maintenance purgatory.
  • Manual operational tasks. IT organizations struggle to balance day-to-day operational tasks with their new mandate of driving innovation and revenue.
  • Lack of integration. On top of maintaining the core infrastructure, IT teams must ensure the various cloud and on-premise platforms integrate with one another. Even with their best effort, the result is usually a convoluted platform that is hard to use and maintain.

Checklist: Capabilities of a Multicloud Datacenter

Meeting the challenges described above is no easy task. Because of that, it’s important to evaluate the following components of a high-functioning multicloud datacenter as you solidify your multicloud strategy.

IT organizations are being asked to do more than ever before. The datacenter is now a source of innovation, revenue, and true business value. Simply maintaining infrastructure isn’t enough; its transformation needs to be a catalyst for embarking on new, business-building initiatives.

To learn more about implementing a multicloud strategy in your datacenter, take a look at the IDC whitepaper, Data Transformation: From Infrastructure Silos to Multicloud.

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