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The Customer Journey to Multi-Cloud

By Lauren Willard

Enterprises have been running large-scale operations on cloud infrastructure for some time now. And, there are many options to choose from. With all these options comes the newest cloud strategy on the block - multi-cloud. A multi-cloud environment is one where an enterprise uses more than one cloud platform that each delivers a specific application or service. A multi-cloud can be comprised of public, private, and edge clouds to achieve the enterprise’s end goals.

While multi-cloud and hybrid clouds have been used interchangeably, they are indeed unique in their own right. A hybrid cloud is a subset of the multi-cloud. One common misconception when comparing hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures is that the two are mutually exclusive. The explicit definition of a multi-cloud environment suggests that a hybrid cloud model is also indeed a multi-cloud model. However, the inverse is not always true. A multi-cloud configuration can be hybridized but it can also exist without the need for individual clouds to talk to each other.

Multi-cloud deployments are now the norm for enterprise organizations. In a 2018 survey, IDC found less than 30 percent of companies responding reported using single cloud environments. Most customers leverage different cloud platforms across multiple service providers. This is captured in the IDC InfoBrief titled “Surviving and Thriving in a Multicloud World.” The same report further states that the interoperability of data and applications between varied cloud environments is growing in importance. But access to hybrid cloud capabilities, where a single application runs across multiple clouds remains elusive for most enterprises. Where interoperability does exist, private cloud (either on-premises or with a service provider) is typically the on-ramp to public cloud interoperability.

Companies who use two or more cloud providers or solutions for their cloud applications or infrastructure—with little to no interoperability between them—have a higher multi-cloud adoption rate, at 40 percent more than customers in a multi-cloud environment that use two or more cloud providers or solutions for their cloud applications or infrastructure to migrate workloads and data between them. Customers that have multiple cloud environments where a single application runs seamlessly across different clouds with easy orchestration has the lowest multi-cloud adoption rate at just seven percent.

Multi-Cloud Benefits

There are many benefits to a multi-cloud strategy. Based on the IDC InfoBrief, the top drivers for organizations choosing a multi-cloud environment are application use case and suitability at 46 percent, mitigating vendor lock-in at 34 percent, architectural reasons at 32 percent, followed by different internal teams selection at 31 percent, and finally pricing and negotiation at 29 percent. Each benefit associated with a multi-cloud approach can prove instrumental in establishing or maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s digital economy. A solid management tool will help in simulating migrations, as well as providing the visibility needed to ensure a seamless inventory, security, migration, and change management.

Multi-Cloud Challenges

As increasingly more IT organizations embrace multi-cloud environments, the challenges in realizing their goals are becoming more clear. According to IDC, the top challenges include different workflow and management tools, lack of unified security across providers, too much effort relative to the benefit, difficulty in synchronizing and sharing data, different provider maturity, and issues with API differences. To counteract these challenges, organizations should look for solutions that securely connect users, apps and data anywhere on any device, provision virtual desktops in minutes and prevent vendor lock-in when designing a multi-cloud environment.

Utilizing VDI for Multi-Cloud

Virtual desktop infrastructure services (VDI) offer the best solutions for multi-cloud environments. It’s often known as the gateway to modernizing datacenters and a key part of digital workspaces, which helps drive productivity and has a positive impact on business. Through VDI, customers can continuously integrate and deliver virtual apps and desktops at any scale, in any region, with exactly the apps and services end users consume, on any cloud environment.

VDI services can deliver secure desktops from a customer’s datacenter and run on the cloud environment that’s right for them, whether it’s private, public, hybrid or multi-cloud. Virtual desktops can also be simultaneously delivered through multi-cloud environments and managed via a single console for seamless control and administration.

As the consumption of public cloud services continues to grow, customers are embracing a bimodal practice. Mode one encompasses well-understood, predictable workloads – something that most people want to run in their datacenters. Mode two explores innovative areas and elastic workloads – for which public cloud infrastructure is great - creating a multi-cloud environment.

It’s similar to the bi-modal concept we’re already familiar with – owning or renting a home while staying at hotels or temporary rentals while traveling. It has become a reality in IT and is integral to the success of organizations around the world.

Such as digital workspaces are rapidly replacing physical desktops and laptops in many work environments, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is running in your datacenter. Companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to desktop as a service (DaaS) solutions to satisfy those digital workspace needs.

Real World Use Cases

A leading North American provider of outsourced data center and cloud services, had received requests from its customers to offer an enterprise-class private cloud environment to complement its core co-location operations. They chose an enterprise cloud system with a built-in hypervisor that delivers all the benefits of a self-contained environment. This system provides all of the functionality of a traditional datacenter virtualization stack, but without the convoluted infrastructure requirements and software complexity. With the built-in Nutanix hypervisor, AHV, this service Provider can deliver an integrated software and hardware deployment, with a single interface, dedicated to their customers.

One of the largest universities in Americas also deployed an enterprise cloud environment when they needed to upgrade their aging server and storage infrastructure. This system allowed them to manage their storage, server and hypervisor infrastructure as one group, with a centralized control system, giving the university cloud-like operations and an added level of flexibility of doing disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud.

While the journey to a multi-cloud environment may begin with a private cloud for most enterprises, organizations are finding that once they pick the right enterprise cloud system, it’s very easy to manage all their multi-cloud and infrastructure technology from a single interface with one access point.

To learn more about creating your own enterprise cloud environment for your organization, check out the cloud solutions Nutanix has to offer.

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