Dance at several weddings simultaneously? Nothing easier! With the right cloud management platform and multi cloud strategy it can be done. What companies should bear in mind and how they stand to benefit.
As a professor at the Hochschule für Telekommunikation Leipzig, Prof. Andreas Hartmann is dependent on the fast provisioning of IT resources. His students should learn to develop software in an agile way. For this they often need additional web servers, databases or virtual machines at short notice and for a limited time. It is precisely this agility and flexibility that Nils Martens, Cloud Architect at T-Systems, offers with the Open Telekom Cloud. With this public cloud based on OpenStack, IT resources can be made available quickly and in a highly standardized manner.
What with the mail system in the one cloud, the HR tool from another provider and a third cloud for telephony, the multi cloud era has long begun. More and more companies are relying on different cloud providers and on a cloud management platform for different applications. According to Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) well over half (60 percent) of corporate respondents already use several providers – and their numbers are rising. Only one out of three companies (33 percent) relies on a single cloud, according to a recent Crisp Research study on cloud orchestration.
Differences: Hybrid Cloud or Multi Cloud?
Multi cloud is not the same as hybrid cloud, however. The two are frequently confused but there is a significant difference between them. Hybrid clouds are a combination of public and private cloud. That is of interest, for example, to companies that for compliance reasons would not like to process all data in the public cloud. A reason why many firms rely additionally on resources from the private cloud – such as for processing data that contains trade secrets they see as requiring special protection.
With multi cloud, in contrast, companies not only combine resources from the public and the private cloud; they also use offerings from different cloud providers. That might be because different departments of the company need various applications for different uses, from file sharing on the collaboration platform to CPU-intensive Big Data applications or test environments.
The Challenges of Multi Cloud
“Multi cloud computing is no longer the shape of things to come; it is a reality,” Kevin Gerrand, CTO Cloud Services at T-Systems, said in an interview. “And that, in my opinion, is the challenge for the years ahead.” Combining on-premises solutions and solutions from different cloud providers, migrating applications to the different clouds and simply running them pose complex challenges for IT departments. By no means all companies have the expertise required to manage complex multi clouds. IT departments must manage access rights for every application, carry out regular updates and monitor all applications, and that is a heavy burden which can cause operational problems if not everything runs smoothly. The more interfaces there are, the more sources of error – and with them the more scope for cybercriminals.
To ensure that the administrative effort and expense does not bind too many personnel resources and to enable IT personnel to put their time to better use, a cloud management platform is suitable for orchestrating different providers. Firms can monitor all of their cloud resources in a single view and, for example, react swiftly to price changes by providers so that costs do not get out of hand.
Advantages of Multi Cloud
There is no such thing as an all-rounder among cloud providers. Each cloud offering has its own strengths, tools and functions. No solution anywhere has the right answer for every problem that exists. That is why it makes sense for companies to make up the best mix for themselves and thereby also keep costs under control. Professionals call that “best of breed.”
A further advantage is the reduced risk of a vendor lock-in – of being chained to one provider – when companies spread the applications they obtain from the cloud around different providers. That also makes companies less susceptible to faults and malfunctions. A disruption at one provider no longer means that all cloud-based applications in the company are affected.
Implementing Multi Cloud Strategy with Partners
Companies that use multi cloud structures and store their data redundantly on several platforms will thereby improve their failure safety. The high level of flexibility and customizability are further advantages of multi cloud. Companies can choose their ideal solutions for computing power, storage or their e-mail program.
As a rule, however, many companies do not do this by themselves; they rely on managed service providers and strong partners on an equal footing who reduce for them the effort and expense of integration and administration. According to Crisp Research nearly one in three companies relies on external IT service providers for multi cloud management. And PAC’s findings show that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages as more and more companies switch to multi cloud. In future, its survey found, two out of three will rely on multi cloud.