Multicloud: Two truths and a lie

By Drew Firment, Chief Cloud Strategist at Pluralsight.

  • 9 months ago Posted in

As businesses migrate workloads to the cloud, adopting a multicloud strategy is increasingly becoming the norm. In fact, Gartner has found that around 75% of organisations that use the cloud deliberately adopt a multicloud strategy, up from just 49% in 2017.

Implementing the approach to the cloud comes with a host of benefits such as cost savings due to  the flexibility to choose the best features from each provider, the ability to avoid vendor lock-in and the capacity to spread the data across multiple applications. Businesses don’t have to restrict themselves to one single cloud application and can choose the most cost-effective combination. They are also less likely to suffer the costs and consequences of an outage – if one of the applications fails, organisations can still access their data on the other platforms, which saves costs of retrieving data. All of this makes multicloud a very powerful tool to help companies improve performance and become more competitive.

Yet, there are some misconceptions when it comes to the move to a multicloud strategy and businesses must prepare in order to embrace it successfully. Let’s play a game of “two truths and a lie” to help understand and navigate the burgeoning world of multicloud effectively.

Truth: Implementing a multicloud strategy can boost productivity and save costs

As rising costs and high inflation persist – in addition to hiring freezes in many organisations – businesses are adapting in order to remain competitive. As part of this, they are looking for ways to boost productivity, keep costs low and maximise ROI.

This is where multicloud environments can help. Adopting a multicloud strategy means organisations no longer have to choose one single vendor or service provider – they can rely on several specialist providers and combine multiple cloud applications, each with a different focus and area of expertise, which helps maximise productivity. 

With multiple providers, companies can extend their networks and develop more connections to reduce response time, improve user experience, and eventually increase performance. According to VMWare’s The Multi-Cloud Maturity Index, 99% of organisations believe a multi-cloud enhances employee flexibility (45%), the ability to innovate (41%), and being able to get apps into production faster (40%), which contributes to positioning a company as a leader in its industry.

Using several cloud providers also means companies can choose the most cost-efficient solutions by comparing different features and pricing models to decide on which provider best responds to their needs while minimising costs.

Lie: A multicloud strategy is less risky than using one cloud provider

Aspects of multicloud strategy, such as avoiding vendor lock-in, may make multicloud strategies seem less risky than using a single cloud provider. However, when adding another cloud platform to an existing business environment, there are a host of potential risks to consider, particularly in the realm of security. By storing data in multiple locations, companies extend the threat perimeter and give cyber-attackers more entry points to their network, as it is harder for businesses to monitor and secure all platforms at the same time. These vulnerabilities can easily be exploited by bad actors. All of this means that when planning to move to a multicloud strategy, companies must also consider new security tools to increase visibility, and help with access, key and workload management.

According to Gartner, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault by 2025. This means that it’s key for businesses moving to a multicloud environment to focus on raising awareness and developing a sense of collective responsibility amongst the workforce. Leaders need to stop questioning whether the cloud is secure and start questioning whether they’re using the cloud securely. Implementing a security strategy with clear guidelines on how to protect the business against a continually evolving threat is key to mitigating the risks created in a multicloud environment.

Truth: Investing in cloud skills will be vital for mutlicloud success

Clearly, organisations need to deal with the rising security threats associated with multicloud environments, and adding another cloud platform means multiplying the maintenance efforts needed to keep the network secure. But the ongoing tech skills shortage means companies are struggling to find the skilled experts to overcome this challenge. While leaders continue to default to cloud, technologists are falling behind when it comes to learning new cloud technologies. In fact, only 8% of technologists surveyed in 2022 had extensive experience with cloud tools. There is a significant gap between what leaders want and what technologists can execute.

The most effective way to overcome this challenge and ensure a multicloud environment is secure is to upskill employees to develop the skills needed to adequately manage and secure it. An organisation’s tech talent plays a key role in the success of multicloud endeavours. Companies must invest in training technologists across multiple cloud platforms at the same rate they invest in new technology. Technology doesn’t grow a business, people do, so prioritising employee growth will fuel innovation and deliver outcomes faster now and in the future.

The takeaway

A multicloud strategy is not a silver bullet for businesses. In fact, multicloud strategies can be complex and clunky, with the risk that organisations expose themselves to data breaches. But when implemented effectively, they can help to keep costs down, get the best features from every cloud provider and boost business productivity. Technology leaders must prepare accordingly, so they can make informed decisions about their cloud strategy. Ensuring the talent around them is equipped with the skills to make the most of their investments will go a long way towards a successful implementation.

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