October 5, 2021
Regulatory nimbleness, adaptability and control can help move the needle, members of the Braintrust say.
CEO at HashiCorp
In our experience multi-cloud isn't always something you choose: often it chooses you. We see this across every industry. In pursuit of "digital transformation", a team finds that a project can benefit from some of the multitude of services on AWS. Or maybe they see the benefit of building a machine learning application on Google Cloud. Or maybe their long-standing relationship with Microsoft means they are given access to Azure for a project and that application quickly becomes critical. Or maybe an acquisition brings in all three. Each cloud provider has a unique value proposition and so application teams find themselves making choices based on the capabilities that they need for a particular application -- and the end result is that the rest of the organization is then left grappling with the challenges of multi-cloud.
Regardless of how they get there, the reality today is that even slow-to-transition companies inevitably end up with a portfolio of cloud vendors pretty quickly. The discussion then shifts from "how did I get here?" to "how do I adopt a common operating model across this fleet?" How to enforce a zero trust model for security in a consistent manner? Or a consistent way to do infrastructure provisioning? Or service-based networking?
The good news is that the blueprint for this operating model is in fact well understood: it has been defined by the cloud-native companies, most of whom found themselves with this challenge years ago. This blueprint is now making its way into every organization.
CTO at Puppet
I have often upheld the concept of "the right tool for the right job" and in the case of choosing one cloud over another, it's "the right cloud for the right workload." A multicloud strategy offers companies a variety of advantages. Here are my top four.
- First, companies can take advantage of services that are natively integrated into and delivered by the cloud provider. While every major public cloud provider's services are starting to look more similar, each still provides some unique services for different types of workloads — and that integrate most seamlessly with a company's current on-prem environment and tools.
- Second, a multicloud strategy ensures that companies have optionality in their long-term strategy. While a public cloud provider may meet a company's needs today, that company may find a stronger value proposition with another cloud provider in the future — or they may just want leverage with pricing. When a company uses multiple public cloud providers, it retains flexibility for the future if it wants or needs to move workloads to another provider, mitigating the risks that come from a single service provider.
- Third, a multicloud strategy allows organizations to address complex regulatory requirements. Not all cloud providers address regulatory requirements in the same way, and for organizations that are running workloads and teams around the world, different countries address regulation in different ways. For those countries with data sovereignty requirements, data is not permitted to leave the country and as such requires unique support from a provider standpoint.
- Finally, spreading workloads across multiple cloud providers is just good Business Continuity Disaster Recovery practice. If there is ever an outage with one provider, a company can fail over to a secondary cloud provider, minimizing downtime and impact to the business.
Vice President, Global Industries at VMware
The reality is, multicloud will be the digital business model for the next 20 years. Across industries, organizations want to remain competitive, and leveraging the cloud is key to fast-track innovation.
It's helping physicians provide telehealth services and better patient care. Retailers can now provide customized omnichannel shopping experiences. And it's helping banks deliver convenient, real-time services for customers.
However, industries must prioritize cloud adoption within their risk management framework. It's no longer about a "cloud first" approach — it's about being "cloud smart." There is going to continue to be a balance between on-prem, private and public cloud as organizations choose the right set of cloud capabilities to meet business needs. The focus must be on harnessing the power of the cloud to get to where they want to go faster — but within their risk comfort level.
Some industries are further along on their multicloud journeys than others; our goal is to meet customers where they are. Multicloud infrastructure provides the foundation for organizations to build, run, manage and secure apps — no matter the app type and no matter the cloud. We're helping our customers accelerate innovation by giving them a powerful combination of freedom, flexibility and security for their businesses across any cloud.
Even with slow-to-transition industries, we will see a surge in cloud adoption as all organizations look to build resilience. Now is the time to embrace digital transformation journeys and build a multicloud strategy that will drive business forward for the next 20 years.
Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP
There are three things that come to mind: adaptability, cost effectiveness and compliance.
Adaptability: Organizations will find that leveraging a multicloud solution does not force them to update important existing systems. For example, if you have an inventory control system that runs on a specific technology stack on premises, and it only supports a specific public cloud provider for disaster recovery operations, then you won't be forced to update or replace your existing inventory system, since multicloud is adaptable to most existing systems.
Cost effectiveness: Leveraging multicloud means leveraging best-of-breed (or best fit) cloud services for their specific use cases. Thus, organizations are able to leverage solutions that are cost optimized for a specific purpose. This can be proven using metrics, and I've seen the ROI of a best-of-breed service be exponentially greater than the ROI of a service that was employed only because it was offered by a single cloud provider.
Compliance: A multicloud approach will provide points-of-presence in most countries. A single cloud provider typically won't cover all countries, but by leveraging a multicloud approach, you'll be able to cover most countries with one cloud or the other. Key to doing this is providing the ability to support data sovereignty laws, for example, or regulations that don't allow some types of data to leave the borders. Having more than one cloud working for you means that you'll have options to comply with most of these laws.
Executive CTO at AppDynamics, part of Cisco
The benefits of moving to the cloud are to enable faster innovation and the scalability the cloud offers. A multicloud infrastructure approach gives organizations the ability to test capabilities and benefits of different cloud providers, allowing those who are new to cloud computing find what works best for them and their stakeholders. It also reduces availability, performance and security risks because organizations aren't limited to a single service or provider, but can evaluate according to their own goals.
Notably, this transition needs to be facilitated correctly instead of rushed for digital transformation. These industries can be measured in their transition efforts for a variety of reasons. They may handle sensitive data, subject to strict privacy rules and regulations, such as financial services, health care or government. Or, they may be under pressure to scale at a rate they may not be quite prepared for, as we saw with education when organizations had to quickly shift students to virtual learning.
That said, it's critical for technologists who make business decisions for migrating to a multicloud approach to also incorporate a strategy focused on full-stack observability with business context to manage resources and expectations. This enables leaders to put multicloud infrastructure options under the lens of the organization's overall goals, so they can pinpoint exactly what's best for their key stakeholders and catch any potential issues before or as they happen. Organizations that enter a multicloud infrastructure with an open mind will find flexibility that can put them ahead of other competitors in their industries.
Co-founder & CEO at vFunction
See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Oct. 5, 2021).
As slow-to-transition industries are usually both risk averse and cost conscious, multicloud infrastructure offers several advantages: On the operational risk side, having workloads on several clouds reduces the operational risk while allowing the customer to optimize the workloads to the strengths of the different cloud providers. Not all clouds have the same strengths — for example, running machine learning workloads might be better to run on GCP. As a slow-to-transition player one has the privilege to assess and validate in which areas each cloud has the strongest track record and choose accordingly.
Of course having a multicloud strategy allows the customer to optimize price, benchmark and have the cloud providers compete, not once, but on an ongoing basis, thereby avoiding lock-in both on price and from a technology perspective.
Lastly, the unified management and operational effort to run workloads on multicloud improves every day, so the slow-to-transition industries are the only who will benefit from the multicloud maturity when they finally make the jump. Being slow is actually an advantage in this case.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.
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