It’s no longer a question of whether companies will move data, applications, storage, and other IT components to the cloud. It’s a question of when and how much they will move. So entrenched has the cloud become for enterprises that many are launching multi-cloud strategies.

A recent report by Gartner Inc. noted that 28% of spending within key enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022, up from 19% in 2018. Growth in enterprise IT spending on cloud-based offerings will be faster than growth in traditional, non-cloud IT offerings, the firm said.

Those organizations creating multi-cloud strategies are adopting a variety of public and private cloud services for applications, infrastructure, and software development. Deploying a multi-cloud strategy can present both benefits and challenges for organizations. Here are some of the positives and negatives of the strategy.

Benefits

With a multi-cloud approach that involves using services from various vendors, companies are not reliant on any one provider for cloud services. That can be a major factor from a business continuity standpoint if a provider’s services become unavailable for any reason.

An enterprise might use an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering from one provider, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering from another, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from yet another provider.

Cloud versatility comes into play in a big way with services such as disaster recovery (DR). Companies that have a DR strategy for key components of their critical IT infrastructure across different cloud providers provide additional safeguards.

Another benefit is the added flexibility companies gain when deploying services and best-of-breed technologies. With a variety of service delivery options at their disposal, including public and private clouds, they can create and adapt their IT environment to meet current and future needs without disrupting services to end users.

Having a hybrid cloud architecture in place allows organizations to leverage the cost advantages of public clouds for less strategic applications and workloads, and the control advantages of private clouds or on-premise infrastructures for more business-critical applications and workloads.

Challenges

A multi-cloud strategy can lead to cloud sprawl. Just as with virtual machine sprawl in a virtualization environment, it’s easy for companies to accumulate cloud services faster than executives might have imagined. This is especially true if business lines and departments are allowed to deploy cloud services without the approval of central IT—commonly referred to as “shadow IT.”

As research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) has noted, applications that have been hosted in private on-premise data centers are being replaced with SaaS-based applications hosted on cloud-based architectures. Enterprise lines of business are rushing to replace or supplement existing legacy applications, and is cloud sprawl.

Most organizations aren’t aware of the huge budget impact today's cloud sprawl will have on tomorrow's bottom line, IDC says, making an orderly approach to the cloud a priority.

Another challenge is billing complexity. Having multiple cloud services or multiple providers means makes it harder to manage billing. Public cloud costs can be hidden within monthly bills across multiple accounts and providers, and business units. Because of this, IT leaders will not have visibility into the total cost of cloud services.

To address the challenges and increase their likelihood of reaping the benefits, organizations deploying a multi-cloud strategy should consider leveraging a platform that enables them to manage and optimize their technology investments across on-premises and cloud environments.

 

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