Cloud network security

How does multi-cloud make sense for business?

We live in an era where data is being generated at an exponential rate. It has become a prerequisite for businesses to adopt cloud computing solutions and accelerate migration to manage data proliferation amid new working models. The cloud has practically unlimited potential in the data storage, server, and networking software domains, whether for reasons such as operational cost, speed, ease of use, or security and reliability benefits. A report by Multisoft claims that 80% of companies report improvements in operations within the first few months of cloud adoption.

What is multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud usually involves choosing more than one cloud provider among many for building an IT infrastructure. It can be a combination of software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model. It means sharing the workload between providers and choosing services that offer the best flexibility, reliability and other features at a much better price point.

While some cloud operations reside on “public cloud” platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure to build IT infrastructure, others take advantage of a combination of on-premises hardware or even a mix of public cloud and private data centers.

The reason to choose a multi-cloud setup can range from risk management to avoiding lock-in and reliance on one provider and compliance with regulatory requirements, etc. Cloud services are easy to use and require minimal investment. On top of that, they provide complete data security, along with a seamless remote working experience.

The recommendation for multi-cloud usually comes from cloud providers who want to penetrate each other’s customer base. Service providers and IT consulting firms gain a lot from companies creating complex infrastructure setup involving multiple clouds and their unique concepts.

Most organisations pursue a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy for greater scalability, flexibility or business continuity reasons. In a survey, organisations are most concerned with data security (58 percent), followed by a lack of security skills (57 percent) and an understanding of how different solutions fit together (52 percent).

Does it add value?

It is debatable whether a business benefits from such a multi-cloud setup. From a standardisation as well as affordability perspective, one can argue that large enterprises are better off staying with one cloud:

  • Central standardisation is important to large enterprises. However, it is harder to standardise when there are multiple cloud providers at play.
  • Large enterprises are not very cost-sensitive.
  • Regardless, multi-cloud is a popular topic among large enterprise IT decision-makers. The hype works because of the customised data storage and management system that enables businesses to scale up their projects and be on par with their global counterparts.

How do start-ups and smaller tech companies approach multi-cloud?

Smaller companies are more practical adopters of multi-cloud. Most of the SMEs adopt multi-cloud architecture as per the requirement. They have two needs:

  • They want to focus on building their apps and not reinventing the wheel.
  • They want tools and services that are best-of-breed in their respective fields, in terms of productivity and ROI.

Adopting a multi-cloud strategy is not always on their mind. SMEs look to build their apps together using only the best tools available in the market. Services like AWS / GCP / Azure for infrastructure, Stripe for payment services, Twilio for communication services, Auth0 for authentication services, Cloudflare for CDN/Security services, Atlas from MongoDB and are a few that they use for combined services.

They all strive to achieve their desired results in a fast and economically viable manner. In many cases, they do not care where these various “component service” providers build their services. Any concerns about the manageability of these multiple providers are much smaller than the alternatives – creating this functionality themselves or following someone who focuses on more horizontal problems.

Will this trend continue?

There is an argument that if you go with a large cloud provider like AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform, all the needs can be met within one provider. They have both IaaS and managed PaaS services for every building block required by the application developers.

Multi-cloud makes sense for the modern app makers, who not only choose lightweight specialised tools for the job but also actively experiment with smaller service providers. It pushes smaller providers to concentrate on specific use case scenarios and underserved audiences through hyper-focused solutions. Building apps using best-of-breed services that come from experts in their respective fields is a trend that will continue to grow, and we will all benefit from it.

The article has been written by Raman Sharma, VP, Product Marketing, DigitalOcean

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