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What is Multicloud?

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By: Nihad Hassan

May 20, 2021

As the world rushes to adopt digital transformation in all aspects of life, organizations of all sizes and across all sectors are now leveraging digital solutions to run their operations and increase productivity. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has witnessed a massive shift in adopting the remote work model. Organizations have implemented this model to remain operational during the long period of lockdown. The new workforce scenario has accelerated digital transformation from several years to just a few months.

The most notable change is the increasing adoption of cloud computing models. According to Gartner, the global end-user spending on public cloud services is projected to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020. Statista found that the public cloud computing market continues to grow and is expected to reach an estimated $362 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.

Cloud technology has been around for roughly two decades; Amazon was the pioneer in establishing this market by selling its spare servers’ processing power and storage capacity to customers to generate more profits. Cloud technology brings enormous benefits to businesses. However, it also brings challenges. For example, the ease of access and the distribution of cloud data across different locations introduce general privacy challenges regarding protecting an individual’s personal information in compliance with globally emerging and varying data protection laws, such as the EU GDPR. This article will introduce the term multi-cloud and describe the main benefits of implementing the multi-cloud model at an organization.

What is Multicloud?

Multicloud is a cloud computing model comprising more than one cloud service from more than one cloud provider that utilizes a single network architecture. The cloud service can be either from a public provider (e.g., Amazon and Google cloud) or private (created and managed by a single organization for its use). Most organizations use a hybrid cloud model by utilizing services from both public and private providers with some form of integration between the two deployments.

A practical example of a multi-cloud deployment is a company that uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) from a cloud provider and integrates it with its on-premises IT infrastructure or another Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider.

Different entities from multiple vendors working together are complicated and introduce various security risks and compliance issues. For instance, each cloud provider has its security policies and cybersecurity defenses, integrating with an organization’s infrastructure and compliance requirements.

Examples of Multicloud providers

Among the many multi-cloud providers, the following are the key players:

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  2. Google Cloud Platform
  3. IBM Cloud
  4. Microsoft Azure
  5. Openstack (private cloud)

Multicloud Benefits

Most organizations opt to work with multi-cloud providers for a host of reasons.

  1. Some cloud providers excel in a particular service than others. For example, a specific cloud provider may provide high-speed data transfer for its data centers, making it ideal for storing data. Another provider may offer machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities for its customers to increase security and efficiencies.
  2. Avoid vendor lock-in. This term is used to describe the difficulty of switching from one service provider to another for various reasons. These reasons include technical, legal, and financial restrictions. A cloud provider will not impose such limits explicitly. However, these limits make client migration from its platform to another costly and time-consuming, discouraging clients from doing so.
  3. Take advantage of the best technological solutions in the market. Each cloud provider will have different hardware and software solutions; by utilizing services from more than one cloud vendor, the client can select the best services offered by each platform that aligns with their business objectives.
  4. Avoid downtime. If one service provider experiences technical difficulties due to natural disasters such as a fire, earthquake, and flood or gets exposed to a cyberattack, other vendors remain operational. This allows the client to continue operations if one vendor system went down for some time.
  5. Help to remain in compliance with data protection regulations. For example, any global company processing or storing EU citizens’ data must adhere to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). By having more than one cloud vendor, a company can opt to use a European provider to store its European customers while using another vendor based in Australia, for example, to store the Australian customer data.

Summary

A multi-cloud approach offers numerous benefits to organizations. As more organizations are opting to use cloud services to facilitate their work, reduce operational costs, and increase work efficiencies, utilizing a multi-cloud model is considered a good option to leverage cloud benefits while ensuring business availability, security, and compliance requirements.

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