Is a multi-cloud strategy really just a risk mitigation decision? - ParkMyCloud

Is a multi-cloud strategy really just a risk mitigation decision?

Now that ParkMyCloud supports AWS, Azure, and Google, we’re starting to see more businesses who utilize a multi-cloud strategy. The question this raises is: why is a multi-cloud strategy important from a functional standpoint, and why are enterprises deploying this strategy?

To answer this, let’s define “multi-cloud”, as this means different things to different people. I appreciated this description from TechTarget, which describes multi-cloud as:

the concomitant use of two or more cloud services to minimize the risk of widespread data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in a cloud computing environment. …. A multi-cloud strategy can also improve overall enterprise performance by avoiding “vendor lock-in” and using different infrastructures to meet the needs of diverse partners and customers.

From our conversations with some cloud gurus and our customers, a multi-cloud strategy boils down to:

  • Risk Mitigation – low priority
  • Managing vendor lock-in (price protection) – medium priority
  • Optimizing where you place your workloads – high priority

Risk Mitigation 

Looking at our own infrastructure at ParkMyCloud, we use AWS and other AWS services including RDS, Route 53, SNS and SES. In a risk mitigration exercise, would we look for those like services in Azure, and try to go through the technical work of mapping a 1:1 fit and building a hot failover in Azure? Or would we simply use a different AWS region – which uses fewer resources and less time?

You don’t actually need multi-cloud to do hot failovers, as you can instead use different regions within a single cloud provider – but that’s of course betting on the fact that those regions won’t go down simultaneously. In our case we would have major problems if multiple AWS regions went down simultaneously, but if that happens we certainly won’t be the only one in that boat!

Furthermore, to do a hot failover from one cloud provider to another (say, between AWS and Google), would require a degree of working between the cloud providers and infrastructure and application integration that is not widely available today.

Ultimately, risk mitigation just isn’t the most significant driver for multi-cloud.

Vendor Lock-in

What happens when your cloud provider changes their pricing? Or your CIO says we will never be beholden to one IT infrastructure vendor, like Cisco on the network, or HP in the data center? In that case, you lose your negotiating leverage on price and support.

On the other hand, look at SalesForce. How many enterprises use multiple CRMs?

Do you then have to design and build your applications to undertake a multi-cloud strategy from the get-go, so that transitioning everything to a different cloud provider will be a relatively simple undertaking? The complexity of moving your applications across clouds over a couple of months is nothing compared to the complexity of doing a real-time hot failover when your service is down. For enterprises this might be doable, given enough resources and time. Frankly, we don’t see much of this.

Instead, we see customers using a multi-cloud strategy to design and build applications in the clouds best suited for optimizing their applications. Bythe way — you can then use this leverage to help prevent vendor lock-in.

Workload Optimization

Hot failovers may come to mind first when considering why you would want to go multi-cloud, but what about normal operations, when your infrastructure is running smoothly? Having access to multiple cloud providers lets your engineers pick the one that is the most appropriate for the workload they want to deploy. By avoiding the “all or nothing’ approach,” IT leaders gain greater control over their different cloud services. They can pick and choose the product, service or platform that best fits their requirements, in terms of time-to-market or cost effectiveness,, then integrate those services. Also, this approach may help avoiding problems that arise, when a single provider runs into trouble!

A multi-cloud strategy addresses several inter-related problems. It’s not just a technical avenue for hot failover. It includes vendor relationship management and the ability optimize your workloads based on the strengths of your teams and that CSP’s infrastructure.

By the way — when you actually deploy your multi-cloud strategy, make sure you have a management plan in place upfront. Too often, we hear from companies who deploy on multiple clouds, but don’t have a way to see or compare them in one place — so make sure you have a multi-cloud dashboard in place to provide visibility that spans across cloud providers, their locations and your resources, for proper governance and control, so you can get the most benefit out of a multi-cloud infrastructure.


About Jay Chapel

Jay Chapel is the CEO and co-founder of ParkMyCloud. After spending several years in the cloud management space, Jay saw that there was no simple solution to the problem of wasted cloud spend - which led him and co-founder Dale Wickizer to start ParkMyCloud in 2015. Before that, he spent 10+ years with Micromuse and IBM Tivoli, a provider of business infrastructure management software. After an acquisition by IBM, he led the successful sales integration and subsequent growth of the IBM Tivoli/Netcool business in Europe. He also held several regional and worldwide sales roles in Switzerland, the UK and the US. Jay earned both a BA in Finance and an MBA from West Virginia. Those few hours a month that Jay’s not busy with ParkMyCloud’s growth and success, you can find him on the ski slopes, on the soccer field, or on the golf course often accompanied by his three kids.

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