The era of multi-cloud is here. According to a recent report, the vast majority of enterprises (87 percent) have adopted a multi-cloud strategy. Using multiple cloud deployments from different vendors offers significant benefits, so it’s no wonder adoption is sky-high.
This approach empowers organizations to do more with less, improve their costing model, and optimize performance. But in order to get the most out of multi-cloud, organizations must stay current on the cloud options available to them and be careful to avoid roadblocks like server downtime or vendor lock-in.
For organizations looking to adopt a multi-cloud approach—or seeking ways to improve their current strategy. Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
Don’t treat multi-cloud as a static solution
Cloud optimization is no different than infrastructure optimization in the sense that you must continually ensure that you're using the best cloud at the best price while also meeting the performance levels your organization needs.
While this may seem easy to do in the short term (getting started with a cloud vendor is easier than building a new on-premises data center), a "set it and forget it" approach isn't going to let you reap the true benefits of multi-cloud.
An effective multi-cloud strategy is dynamic. To maximize your cloud investments, you need the ongoing ability to adjust which workloads are running in which clouds to meet the performance metrics you want to achieve.
For example, maybe you house your disaster recovery site in AWS, but you run some numbers and discover that it'll perform better and be more cost effective in Azure—you must be able to pivot accordingly. Optimizing multi-cloud in this way requires data mobility; the ability to efficiently migrate data with no downtime (more on this later).
Don't get locked into one vendor
Vendor lock-in is fatal to multi-cloud success—it's expensive and, more importantly, lacks the flexibility required to optimize your operations. Since the goal is to move workloads freely between different clouds on an as-needed basis, any solutions you adopt should support data mobility across vendors.
Staying free from vendor lock-in gives your business the most agility, which is likely a key reason you’re moving to the cloud in the first place. It might seem straightforward to move workloads between vendors, but as any storage expert can tell you—it is anything but simple. There isn’t a lot of incentive to let customers easily change storage providers, and the reality is that what works for one scenario may not work for another.
If one vendor offers a more economical or higher-performing solution than another, you can let them know and request a better price or service level. There's nothing like introducing a competitor to motivate your vendors to work with you on optimizing your solution.
Ensure you have the right multi-cloud tools for the job
You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail, just like you wouldn’t use a data replication tool for data mobility. Being able to move data freely and efficiently between clouds, or between clouds and on-premises infrastructure, with minimal downtime and disruption to users, is what will enable you to realize the benefits of multi-cloud.
Historically, when storage infrastructure was on-premises, companies would migrate their data every couple of years when their storage array had reached the end of its lifespan. This was an arduous process that demanded a great deal of time, resources, and effort.
Cloud has shaken things up (and created huge new opportunities), and now every company needs the ability to move their data in a much more flexible way, far more often. Data mobility solutions allow companies to move data between architectures or storage platforms at will.
Data mobility gives the power back to companies to decide where (and when) their data resides—whether it’s just a single terabyte of file data or 100 petabytes of block data that is critical to business operations. This lets companies take advantage of new opportunities to meet their goals, whether they’re related to cost, performance, or some other factor.
Stay on the lookout for new, better offerings
The ability to use multiple cloud vendors versus being locked into one helps companies maximize their IT budget. But getting the most out of each solution requires some due diligence. Companies must constantly monitor for new and updated cloud offerings, which can be hard to do when you’re just trying to stay afloat and keep up with your current cloud workload.
However, making the time for this is critical because vendors aren’t going to reach out to you to inform you that better options are available. Re-evaluate your cloud offerings periodically and keep an eye out for new pricing and service-level offerings. Vendors are continuously lowering costs and improving performance, and so long as you have data mobility, you can be prepared to jump on these opportunities.
The world of IT is changing. Companies are tightening their belts and doing more with less; the technology landscape is more competitive and fast-paced than ever; worker expectations have shifted with the advent of cloud, and things like server downtime are now a no-no.
Every company needs to be focused on optimizing their multi-cloud investments in order to address these challenges and enjoy the benefits of things like lower cost and better performance.
Mark Greenlaw is VP of Market Strategy at Cirrus Data.