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How Multi-Cloud Could Be the Growth Catalyst Your Business Needs

·5 min read
<span class="copyright">Andriy Onufriyenko | Getty Images</span>
Andriy Onufriyenko | Getty Images

It has been nearly two decades since the cloud was born and even less since cloud computing began to shape our businesses and daily lives. Cloud developments have advanced rapidly and for many companies, computing on a single cloud platform no longer offers enough value or agility. As an alternative, multi-cloud operations are increasing in popularity.

Multi-cloud is the intentional use of cloud services from two or more cloud platform-as-a-service providers. It enables scalability, controls costs, increases flexibility and optimizes performance. Multi-cloud is the way most businesses will operate in the near future. According to the most recent Enterprise Cloud Index, 36% of organizations worldwide are currently using multi-cloud, and multi-cloud adoption is expected to increase to 64% within the next three years.

How does a business transition from single cloud or on-premises operations to multi-cloud? How can companies avoid roadblocks, and set themselves up for long-term success? Read on to find out.

Related: It's Time to Prepare for a Multi-Cloud Future

Should your company move to multi-cloud?

The first step in the journey to multi-cloud is to determine whether it is the right model for your business. Some companies may lack the expertise to manage a multi-cloud environment, or may not have the high volume of data requirements to merit the transition.

However, many businesses find that multi-cloud is the growth catalyst they've been looking for. Business leaders should consider migrating to multi-cloud to take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Ensure best-fit architecture. As workloads and business needs shift, single cloud and on-premises systems are limited in their flexibility. Multi-cloud organizations can work across multiple cloud service providers to find the best fit and best value for each workload. With the right data architecture, data can be shared and reused across different cloud platforms for different use cases.

  • Avoid vendor lock-in to reduce cost and risk. Vendor lock-in can occur when a company is solely or heavily reliant on a single cloud provider's services. This can be very costly and can prevent companies from accessing services they need that are not offered by their chosen vendor. Data integration tools can support reliable migration to additional cloud platforms, allowing you to break your dependency on a single vendor.

  • Increase productivity and eliminate duplicate work. A multi-cloud data integration strategy automatically shares data artifacts with multiple teams working in different platforms, increasing productivity. The right data integration tools allow you to easily support multiple cloud platforms in the same pipeline and migrate to new cloud platforms without having to redevelop data pipelines in the new environment. This reduces development time and supports innovation.

Related: You've Got Cloud. Now, What?

Roadblocks and challenges

Becoming a multi-cloud business requires a thoughtful strategy, inter-departmental support and the right tooling. Companies may face challenges throughout their path to multi-cloud, but all can be overcome.

  1. Data drift and data corruption. Migrating data to any cloud environment can result in data drift and data corruption — the data changes unexpectedly as it moves across clouds. This should be planned for during the transition. Multi-cloud companies should address drift in real-time before "bad" data infiltrates the full system.

  2. Costly re-design. If a company is not careful about how they're moving data to a new cloud platform, they could end up having to completely redesign their systems after the move. A thoughtful architectural approach with multi-cloud in mind upfront can prevent this.

  3. Point solutions with limited functionality. Some tools that help companies load data to a cloud aren't able to support the full needs of data engineering teams once the movement is complete. Companies should avoid restrictive point solutions where possible.

  4. Lack of unified security. Multi-cloud presents unique security challenges — when working within various cloud platforms, it's more difficult to assess the security of your infrastructure as a whole. As a result, risks and vulnerabilities may not be detected at the same speed they would in an on-premises or single cloud system. Diligence, frequent security checks, and cloud-native extensive security measures can help to prevent catastrophic breaches.

  5. Extra layer of management complexity. Multi-cloud creates additional complexities for organizations and requires specific skill sets, which can be difficult to come by amid ongoing labor shortages. However, the right tools can help bridge skills gaps and organize data.

Related: Choosing the Right Cloud Platform for Your Startup

Best practices for migrating to multi-cloud

When a business knows they are ready to become a multi-cloud operation, adhering to best practices can ensure sustainability and success.

First, business leaders must carefully develop a comprehensive migration plan, tailoring their cloud choices and the overall data architecture to the needs of their organization. Many workloads are already running on multiple clouds, which means that before they begin to create a migration plan, they must gain a full understanding of what is already in each cloud. Key stakeholders from data, IT and engineering teams should be involved in plan development. During the planning process, executives should identify skills gaps and the tools needed to complete the migration.

Next, a business must thoughtfully migrate data, either from legacy/on-premises sources or from one cloud to another. Each process requires a unique approach and attention to detail.

Before, during and after the migration process, businesses should be testing functionality. Additionally, leaders must ensure that systems and data pipelines can scale- building foundational artifacts can support this.

Multi-cloud success requires full visibility across clouds. Make sure that teams have access and insight into operations on all cloud platforms, so that data engineers can efficiently debug and fix breakages. Understanding the potential security risks on multi-cloud, businesses should implement methods for keeping data anonymous and secure, or risk losing customer trust.

Related: This Is How Cloud Computing Advances, a Valuable Resource for Companies

Multi-cloud can multiply your success

The movement towards multi-cloud is more than a trend. It is a strategic business decision that has the potential to positively transform operations.

From a data perspective, a multi-cloud approach opens up storage, delivery and resource opportunities that can enhance customer and end-user experiences. When implemented using these best practices, and with the right data integration tools, the multi-cloud will lead to a thriving, future-ready business.