What is a Multi-cloud Environment?

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 datacenter end goals. In other words, it 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.

Multi-cloud is the use of more than one cloud platform that delivers a specific application or service and can be comprised of public, private, and edge clouds.

When would multi-cloud be useful?

There are a number of reasons companies rely on a multi-cloud infrastructure: 
  • To prevent data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in the cloud
  • To avoid vendor lock-in 
  • To achieve broader business and technical goals which include the use of more price-competitive cloud services or taking advantage of the speed, capacity or features offered by a particular cloud provider in a particular geography
  • To achieve optimal performance and minimal latency through data sovereignty which enables organizations to locate compute resources as close as possible to end users 
  • To help organizations meet regulatory requirements by selecting from multiple IaaS providers' datacenter regions or availability zones

Is a multi-cloud environment secure?

The security posture of major cloud providers is as good as or better than most enterprise datacenters and security should no longer be considered a primary inhibitor to the adoption of multi-cloud services. However, it is not as simple as moving on-premise workloads to the cloud. Security teams should look to leverage the programmatic infrastructure of public cloud IaaS. Automating as much of the process as possible removes the potential for human error — generally responsible for successful security attacks. The critical driver for success in the cloud world where digital assets are ephemeral can also get provisioned and deprovisioned on demand. Keeping track of security controls needs to be programmatic for ensuring complete cloud compliance.

What are the benefits of multi-cloud?

There are many reasons for organizations to choose a multi-cloud environment. 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 helps in simulating migrations, and provides the visibility needed to ensure a seamless inventory, security, migration, and change management. Other top drivers include: 

Mitigating Vendor Lock-in

By carefully evaluating the expectations and potential pitfalls, and having a strong negotiating position which makes it easy to switch from one cloud provider to another, companies can harness the power of the cloud and get the most value out of their partnership with any cloud service provider.

Suitability

When incorporating multiple clouds into a company's IT strategy, administrators are able to line up their business requirements with the best cloud-hosting providers for each individual task.

Competitive Pricing

Organizations can now enjoy the freedom of comparing different providers and securing the best available rates based on their specific IT needs.

Flexibility and Scalability

Multi-cloud allows businesses to scale their storage up or down based on an ongoing demand. Ideally, multi-cloud providers work seamlessly together so organizations can invest in any level of space, security and protection based on the needs of each data segment.

Are there any challenges to using multi-cloud? 

As IT organizations embrace multi-cloud environments, the challenges in realizing their goals are becoming more clear:

Different workflow and management tools

These tools can be expensive and create silos, adding additional complexity to already complex infrastructure.

Lack of unified security

The security of your network must be assessed on a regular basis as your infrastructure and software change over time.

Skill gaps

When enterprises deploy a new multiplatform monitoring tool, IT leads often have to retrain staff. As organizations rapidly respond to new changes, it’s hard for enterprises to find staff with the multi-cloud skills they need. 

Data Sharing

Multi-cloud can often cause difficulty in synchronizing and sharing data, have different provider maturity, and have 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

Multi-cloud versus hybrid cloud

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. According to this blog, Hybrid Cloud vs Multi-Cloud: What’s the Difference?, “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 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.”

What is a hybrid cloud?

We already know that a multi-cloud is a variety of cloud platforms that each delivers a specific application or service. A hybrid cloud combines on-premises IT (traditional infrastructure and private cloud) with off-premises resources or services from a public cloud—such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Microsoft Azure—or at a cloud service provider (CSP) or software-asa-service (SaaS) provider.

Why choose multi-cloud over hybrid cloud?

Multi-cloud cloud environments include the presence and usage of many clouds without interoperability between them. Utilization of this emerging architecture is growing as it provides access to several service models within the cloud. “According to Gartner, 70% of enterprises will be implementing a multi-cloud strategy by the end of this year,” the blog states. 
 
On the other hand, hybrid cloud allows operators to perform a single task leveraging two separate cloud resources. However, keep in mind that most hybrid cloud environments utilize two separate private clouds. The key to remember is that hybrid combines the resources of two different clouds – could be two private, two public, or a mix of both. If you were to visualize a Venn diagram, and assigned a public cloud on the left and a private cloud on the right, a hybrid cloud would entail the sum of both parts. The overlapping space in the middle represents the encrypted layer.
Why choose multi-cloud over hybrid cloud?

Companies with multi-cloud architectures

Loco Media

Xi Beam’s cloud cost optimization module empowered Loco Media’s CTO to better understand the company’s current and previous Amazon Web Services (AWS) spend. The insights provided by Beam helped In Loco Media substantially reduce costs and increase the performance of their AWS environment.

Ground Truth

GroundTruth sought a solution to gain visibility into and optimize their AWS cloud consumption. After evaluating several cloud management platforms, they decided to implement Nutanix Beam. Nutanix Beam is a SaaS platform that enables companies to optimize their AWS costs through AI-powered optimization and one-click execution.

UCSD

To ensure that users could continue to enjoy the freedom to adopt the cloud solutions they needed in a standardized, compliant way, the IT staff began bringing cloud accounts under the umbrella of an AWS enterprise agreement.

Still have questions about multi-cloud? Check out these links below:

Find the answers in this Top 10 Cloud Management Questions Answered eBook.

Watch this live webinar to discuss how to manage your clouds. Join us for a product demonstration and customer stories covering topics multicloud governance, harmonizing private and public cloud, and cloud self-service opportunities.

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