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What is Multi-Cloud?

26 September 2022      
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What is Multi Cloud

What is a Multi-Cloud Approach?

Most modern businesses look for solutions and services that offer flexibility and are tailored to their needs. This is why multi-cloud is the preferred option of many organisations today.

A multi-cloud approach combines two or more public cloud resources into one system. Usually, companies choose the public cloud resources that best fit a task, workload, or design. This lets them pick and choose providers, selecting the best for each aspect of the job.

Compute resources in a multi-cloud system might include data storage, backups, software, and automation tools. By investing in multi-cloud, companies use these resources to improve processes, innovate, and simplify day-to-day operations. Crucially, companies moving to the cloud also report a reduction in IT spend of between 30-50 per cent.

So, what exactly is a multi-cloud approach?

First, it’s important to learn about public cloud and private cloud resources.

Public cloud vs private cloud

Fundamentally, there are two main cloud technologies. They are known as public cloud and private cloud.

What is the public cloud?

The public cloud is a computing model offering cloud resources to many different customers. The resources are often hosted in large data centres by public cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform.

The cloud services offered on the public cloud include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. They run on remote servers managed by the provider, with users connecting over the internet.

What is the private cloud?

Likewise, the private cloud is a cloud service that users can connect to over the internet. However, it’s only used by one organisation. Private cloud resources are for the sole use of only one client, unlike public cloud services which are used by many users at once.

Private cloud infrastructure is usually kept on-premises or hosted in third-party data centres. It might also be kept behind a company firewall. Private clouds are typically used when an organisation wants sole use of a resource or has a reason – like data legislation – to host its own services.

How does multi-cloud work?

Multi-cloud is a cloud environment made up of two or more public cloud services. These cloud services usually come from more than one cloud vendor. Generally, multi-cloud deployments only include public cloud services and no private cloud resources.

This way, a company can choose different vendors for different workloads. They might choose to host data storage with one provider, backups with another, and SaaS deployments for another. With multi-cloud, there is complete freedom to design your own system.

While some companies might design their multi-cloud strategy from the beginning, others can end up using different cloud vendors by chance. A multi-cloud deployment evolves with business needs.

What's the difference between multi-cloud and hybrid cloud?

Another popular model of cloud computing is the hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are often mentioned together. In fact, it’s common to hear multi-cloud and hybrid cloud used interchangeably. But there is a subtle – and significant – difference between the two.

Hybrid cloud systems include both a private cloud and a public cloud resource. While multi-cloud has two or more public clouds, it does not generally have a private cloud service – but hybrid clouds must have one of both.

Confusingly, there can be some overlap. A hybrid cloud can include two or more public cloud services, so can technically also be a multi-cloud.

In practice, hybrid cloud environments are generally more closely linked than individual multi-cloud services. Their private cloud resources are most commonly used for storage or backups, with public cloud used for computing resource and software. These services can be managed by orchestration tools like Kubernetes.

Is a multi-cloud environment safe?

Multi-cloud environments can be trickier to safeguard than a single cloud service. You’re using different cloud providers, so you might have different cloud security systems or controls in place.

However, with proper care, multi-cloud environments are as safe – if not safer – than hybrid or single-cloud solutions. When using multi-cloud, you should:

  • Make sure data is stored correctly. Sensitive data should be kept in storage that meets any legislation and geographical requirements.
  • Put proper access controls in place. Learn the security systems offered by your different cloud providers and use their authentication controls to keep your system safe.
  • Monitor your system. Keep a close eye on your multi-cloud environment to spot any changes or weaknesses.
  • Understand your responsibilities. Are any patching or upgrade duties yours? Or will the cloud provider look after everything?

Many companies choose a multi-cloud management platform that brings multiple public cloud services together. This not only streamlines tasks but improves security and procedures.

What is shadow IT?

Another key aspect of multi-cloud security is shadow IT. Although it sounds sinister, shadow IT simply means any tool or system employed by users without informing the IT department.

Cloud computing makes it more straightforward for users to adopt new tools. Access is easier, tools are cheaper, and there is usually nothing to install. While most tools are harmless, it’s important to educate users about the entire system, making sure they speak with IT teams before using anything new within your system.

Overall, the advanced security offered by public cloud providers is one of multi-cloud’s biggest benefits.

What are the benefits of multi-cloud?

When choosing a cloud computing model, multi-cloud offers many advantages.

The best provider for each task

First, multi-cloud lets companies choose their ideal provider for each workload. You might select a particular provider because they offer your ideal:

  • service level agreements
  • speeds, bandwidth, or latency
  • pricing
  • data sovereignty

Multi-cloud lets you take a mix-and-match approach to optimise your system. Instead of altering your approach or services to work with a supplier, you can use the flexibility of multi-cloud to your advantage.

No vendor lock-in

Similarly, the flexibility of multi-cloud also means you are never entirely tied to a single cloud provider. This can help you take advantage of different providers:

  • pricing models
  • specialist products
  • niche offerings you might not otherwise use for an entire system

Overall, you’ll avoid the limitations that can come from being locked into one single provider.

No upfront costs

Multi-cloud is also an incredibly cost-effective cloud computing model for many businesses. Instead of purchasing costly private cloud equipment up front, companies can simply choose a public cloud supplier and begin deployment.

There are also ongoing cost benefits. On-premises data centres require upkeep, maintenance, and upgrades. Multi-cloud public services are maintained by the providers, saving you downtime, staffing, and upkeep costs.

Automation

With its mobility and flexibility, multi-cloud encourages automating repetitive tasks. Workloads and workflows can be connected through apps or APIs, while multi-cloud management tools can help you align whichever tasks you need.

When using separate multi-cloud tools, like two SaaS solutions, automation and orchestration of data helps avoid mistakes and manual work. You can also design DevOps processes to create new tools and solutions. 

Portability and scalability

End users and customers can use multi-cloud services from anywhere with an internet connection. You can use different providers or data centres around the world to localise services, while load balancing helps spread traffic evenly across resources.

And, while multi-cloud is highly portable, it’s also highly scalable. Growing businesses can add resources whenever needed. Likewise, seasonal companies can design systems to automatically react to highs and lows in traffic. 

Flexible pricing models

Another impactful benefit of multi-cloud is flexible and competitive pricing models. Multi-cloud gives companies the choice of provider, meaning vendors must keep pricing competitive to attract new users.

This means businesses can take crucial IT spend into account when selecting a service. You can choose a provider that offers things that are important to you, like:

  • contract terms
  • contract length
  • pricing methods
  • payment terms

With multi-cloud, simply select the provider that aligns with your pricing needs.

Business continuity

Outages have a substantial negative impact on business. Multi-cloud not only mitigates that risk with backup equipment, but also spreads it across multiple suppliers. If one service experiences downtime for any reason, switch to another resource to keep services running.

Using multiple cloud service providers also helps you avoid disruptions like slow speeds and jitter that can come with single points of failure. By spreading your services, you’ll minimise the chances of total downtime, helping business continue as usual.

Disaster recovery

Likewise, aspects of your multi-cloud system can act as a backup in case of disaster recovery. Critical IT issues can come in many forms, such as disk failure, power outage – even natural disasters.

Using cloud data storage, you can keep redundancy high across multiple providers. This gives you peace of mind that there is an answer to every potential problem, and that the chances of total data loss are, essentially, zero.

Why choose a multi-cloud strategy?

Multi-cloud deployments let you tailor your system to your exact business needs. There are many benefits – but some could be more important to you than others.

  • Cloud-native apps give you the freedom and functionality to work from anywhere
  • Cloud adoption helps to keep costs low and predictable
  • Multi-cloud architecture helps design business continuity and disaster recovery plans
  • Using different cloud providers in your multi-cloud infrastructure lets you choose the best supplier for each task

Simply put, multi-cloud frees you to choose the services that match your requirements.

 

Multi-cloud environments combine two or more public cloud services, allowing companies to streamline work, reduce costs, and use the best provider for each task. At Nasstar, our cloud solutions help you design your perfect system – whatever your unique needs.

Speak to a specialist today to begin your digital transformation.