“In general, I don’t advocate that enterprises purposefully set out to spread their cloud investment across many public cloud platforms,” cloud guru Scott Pletcher stated in his piece “Multi-cloud Madness.” Yes, there are numerous viewpoints on this subject, and mine is, of course, unique. I can refute any claim of ‘avoiding vendor lock-in’ or ‘diversifying our cloud investment’ with ‘dilapidated skills development’ and ‘unnecessary complexity.'”
What percentage of cloud investments are dispersed across several public cloud platforms?
SP (Scott Pletcher): Most businesses, according to industry studies, have some sort of multi-cloud strategy. However, the hybrid-cloud method, which combines one public cloud provider with virtualization equipment in their own data centers, is the most frequent multi-cloud flavor. There are fewer organizations that employ numerous public cloud providers.
However, there are a variety of compelling reasons why you can find yourself in a multi-public-cloud scenario. You may have inherited a new public cloud as a result of a merger or acquisition. Perhaps you’re integrating IT activities after years of each business unit operating independently. Some cloud providers simply do not operate in specific areas for international enterprises, so if you require a local provider, you’re suddenly multicolored …like it or not.
What are some of the “bad” reasons for using numerous public cloud services?
SP: In my opinion, some of the perspectives on this matter are outdated and should be reconsidered.
Some corporate executives, for example, feel that using many public clouds would help them maintain their bargaining leverage with other vendors. This may have been true in the past, but it is no longer the case.
Because of the rivalry, all of the big cloud providers provide nearly identical services. So, if you disagree with your cloud provider, you have the option of switching to another (though not ideal, since your teams will need additional upskilling). You’re no longer obligated to your prior provider’s sunk cost in capital assets. Everything should be somewhat portable if your cloud architecture is correctly developed.
Another typical rationale given by businesses for using numerous public clouds is to ensure reliability. Multiple suppliers for the same raw material are frequent in production as a means to decrease supply risk. Alternatively, you might use numerous telecommunications partners to protect against a utility team severing a fiber optic line by mistake.
Public cloud providers, on the other hand, provide methods and services to assure reliability. If a tornado destroys a single cloud data center, your data and service should continue to function normally, assuming you’ve properly architected things and are utilizing the providers’ redundancy capabilities.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing several public clouds?
SP: Let’s take a look at the issues from a few different perspectives:
Development of cloud skills
While each cloud service has comparable features, how you use and maximize those features varies greatly. Because each supplier has distinct characteristics that seldom map one-to-one, your team will need to acquire more knowledge.
If you opt to employ numerous public clouds, you complicate your recruiting and training efforts, given the existing lack of people with the necessary cloud expertise. You also extend the climb up the competence hill.
While planned, high-quality training shortens the time it takes to reach peak productivity, skill mastery requires hands-on practice. Having many public cloud providers implies your engineers will need more practice, which sadly means more mistakes and do-overs.
Organizations may transfer their workloads to the cloud in a variety of ways. “Lift and shift” (shifting VMs or containers to the public cloud) is a common first step, although it only provides transient advantages.
When you’re able to use cloud-native designs, such as completely managed services and serverless, the actual benefits start to show themselves. All of the main providers have solid products to help you gain scalability, save costs, improve security, and offload undifferentiated labor from your employees. Cloud-native designs often make use of the costs and efficiency of cloud providers.
If you employ numerous public clouds and require cloud-agnostic architecture, you’ll almost certainly be constrained to the “lowest common denominator” architecture across all of them (most likely at the VM or container level). You won’t be able to fully benefit from the efficiency of any one provider, and you risk lowering the potential ROI of your cloud expenditures.
When a well-publicized outage affects public cloud providers, it’s only logical to consider your amount of risk. Should you diversify your cloud offerings by adding a third public cloud provider? In my opinion, any single big cloud provider can construct a landscape that is as resilient as or more resilient than several cloud providers. If you’ve chosen a cloud-native architecture, resilience should be baked in.
If you haven’t already, multi-site and multi-region options with replication, auto-scaling, and auto-failover either are preinstalled or are only a mouse click away. You’ll have to utilize manual or third-party solutions to monitor systems, sync data, and trigger failovers if you’re creating these resilience capabilities across several providers. You’ll also have more handoffs and touches if you don’t have a staff of absolute unicorn cloud engineers who are expert-level fluent across various cloud providers—which isn’t ideal in a crisis.
Gartner’s Lydia Leong, Distinguished Vice President, and Analyst wrote a detailed perspective on why multi-cloud failover isn’t the best strategy to accomplish resilience.
“Why to construct one when you may have two for twice the price?” argues John Hurt’s character in the movie Contact. Because cloud providers provide spending plans and tiered pricing, pooling your expenditure with one provider might save you money on invoices.
When using various cloud providers, the expenditures aren’t limited to those on the monthly bill. Other tangible and intangible expenditures, such as those associated with recruiting and skill development, are included in the total cost of ownership.
Is there anything else about multi-cloud that businesses should be aware of?
SP: Some of those who advocate for the use of many public clouds may have ulterior agendas. If a cloud provider is aiming to gain market share, for example, it has an incentive to advertise multi-cloud as a reasonable solution. They may be attempting to obtain a piece of the pie in whatever way they can.
Similarly, third-party technologies exist to assist businesses in managing cloud complexity, and they are vociferous about the numerous advantages of multi-cloud, which is understandable.
The following are the most crucial questions to ask yourself:
- What are your objectives for your cloud strategy?
- Are you sure you won’t be able to accomplish it with only one provider?
Multiple public clouds, in my opinion, should only be used as a last option.