Things to consider before spending on multi-cloud

clouds reflected

The concept of multi-cloud is simple. You’re running multiple business processes using more than one cloud. This isn’t the same thing as hybrid cloud. With that model, you’re coordinating business processes across multiple clouds. 

So, for example, if your office program is Office 365, but you’re running line of business programs on Amazon Web Services, you’ve got a multi-cloud. And you’d be in good company. Recent surveys of cloud IT executives show 84 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. Another study found 60 percent of EMEA and North American financial services businesses moving to multi-cloud models.  Only 58 percent of companies are working on hybrid clouds. 

That sounds about right to me. After all, running job A on one cloud while running job B on another is a lot easier than running job C across two clouds at once.

So, because of the ease, companies have started embracing multiple clouds for their IT work. After all, it’s a natural progression from shadow IT. I can’t count the number of companies I know in which one department has “standardized” on Dropbox for simple file storage and transfer, while another branch has invested in Google Drive. 

Sure, you can try to pry them off their simple cloud services of choice, but it’s not easy. Once a group has made a given cloud part and parcel of their workflow, weaning them off it is enormously difficult. 

I also hear from many companies that they don’t want to be locked into a single cloud vendor. It’s not just they don’t want to be stuck paying for a service that may decline in quality. No, they’re worried that sticking with a single cloud service may leave them unable to adapt to technology, government, or business changes. For example, would you want to be a Department of Defense contractor who’s backed the wrong cloud horse once the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract is finally settled? I think not!

So, should you just go with the flow and relax into using multiple clouds? 

I don’t think so. 

Think about it. If you’re using more than one cloud, you have to cross-train your staff. How many Azure experts do you have who are also AWS mavens? Not many, right? Or, you could double the number of staffers you need for your cloud with dedicated employees for each cloud you’re supporting.

But, what happens then? Things become more complicated. You have to manage two or more different systems. While you may not be working with hybrid clouds, by the very nature of supporting more than one platform, you’ve added complexity and complexity is never cheap.

So, sure, in the short run the multiple cloud approach may look attractive. Before you go too far down that road though, take a long, hard look at what it will cost you in the long run. It may be much more expensive than it looks at first.



  1. […] obvious challenges around centralized visibility and control and less-obvious challenges around cross-training. We've written before about our journey to multi-cloud, and we're working on support for additional […]

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