An engineer plans a multi cloud architecture on multiple screens arranged in a pattern.

The cloud is constantly evolving, and modern enterprises must evolve too if they want to make the best use of cloud technology. That’s why many businesses have adopted multi cloud architectures, allowing them to increase their vendor leverage, minimize risk, optimize performance, and take advantage of cutting-edge features and functionality. According to the Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report, 92% of enterprises have embraced multi cloud strategies. Let’s look at the four biggest benefits of multi cloud setups and discuss some of the most popular implementation strategies so you can determine whether a multi cloud architecture is right for your enterprise.

The Benefits of Using a Multi Cloud Architecture

There are multiple reasons why a company might choose to use multiple cloud providers instead of just one, including to avoid vendor lock-in or to strengthen their disaster recovery and business continuity strategies. Here are some of the biggest benefits of implementing a multi cloud architecture.

Increased Agility

Many companies adopt a multi cloud strategy because they’re looking for greater choice and portability. Legacy cloud providers like AWS create walled gardens by charging relatively large transfer fees to move data off their platform, but now there are more forward-thinking public clouds that allow for seamless integration with other platforms. 

Now that the right to data portability is a hot-button issue thanks to laws like the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), you can expect more providers to encourage multi cloud deployments by allowing for cheap or free data transfers between platforms. Using a multi cloud architecture with platform portability increases your agility in areas like disaster recovery, performance optimization, and containerization. 

Portability in a multi cloud architecture also provides you with more leverage in vendor contract renewal negotiations, because you can easily take your data and leave if you’re unhappy with the terms.

Specificity of Features

It may be that a vendor’s expertise and innovation for a particular product better suits your needs than your regular cloud vendor, and yet your regular vendor excels in some other product you need to work with. Therefore, many companies are choosing to leverage specialized cloud providers for different workloads. Adopting a multi cloud architecture enables you to partner with experts in the services you need and ensure you’re utilizing the most innovative technology for your specific requirements.

Optimized Performance

Another benefit of a multi cloud architecture is that you can pick the cloud providers that offer the best performance for your particular needs. For example, you may require cloud providers with data centers in certain geographic regions to ensure peak performance for your largest user bases. Or, you may need multiple cloud providers to make certain there is uptime and SLA coverage for all of your services in various locations. 

You can also use multi cloud data controllers to automatically orchestrate workloads across multiple clouds, optimizing performance by intelligently distributing applications and services to the best provider.

Minimized Risk

One of the biggest reasons many companies adopt a multi cloud architecture is to provide redundancy. You can host applications, data, and services across multiple clouds, using one as the primary and the other as a standby. As long as all data and workloads are accurately replicated across clouds, you can ensure continuous availability in the event of a disaster, outage, or denial of service attack. Many multi cloud management tools allow for automated replication and failover across multiple cloud providers.

Strategies for Using a Multi Cloud Architecture

Many companies end up with a multi cloud architecture unintentionally, after years of vendor-hopping and chasing the best deals on cloud services. However, to get the most out of a multi cloud setup, it’s best to approach your architecture more strategically.

Strategy

How it Works

Segmenting Workloads

One of the most common multi cloud strategies is to segment workloads across different clouds, depending on which vendor offers the best terms, SLA, or features for each. The goal with this type of multi cloud architecture is to host each workload on the platform that works best while still allowing for open communication, integration, and data transfers between them. One of the potential pitfalls of this strategy is that some organizations tend to become fond of certain vendors either due to great licensing terms or personable salespeople, and then they transfer other applications to those providers even if they’re not the best fit for those workloads. Keeping track of which workloads and applications reside with which clouds can also become a problem if you don’t have a solid multi cloud management solution in place as well as comprehensive documentation.

Parallel Deployments

With a parallel strategy, you deploy your critical applications and data across multiple clouds in order to ensure business continuity. This type of multi cloud architecture allows you to minimize your risk if there’s a service outage or denial of service attack. Achieving a parallel architecture can be tricky if you don’t utilize platform-agnostic cloud management tools to ensure you can deploy your applications to any cloud without needing to make platform-specific modifications. Another strategy is to develop applications using as many open-source components as possible, since they’ll generally work on any cloud.

Containers

One of the biggest promises of a multi cloud architecture is the ability to freely deploy and move your workloads around from cloud to cloud whenever you want. Using containers to deploy your applications, you can employ automation tools to move them around based on resource needs, fully optimizing the performance-enhancing potential of multi cloud architectures. Additionally, using a multi cloud strategy with containers allows you to fully avoid vendor lock-in because there’s very little hassle or manual intervention needed to transfer your containers off a platform if you’re unhappy with their terms or SLAs. 

Meeting the Challenges of a Multi Cloud Architecture

One of the biggest drawbacks to a multi cloud architecture is complexity. Each cloud platform comes with its own set of management tools and processes, disparate SLAs, inconsistent security practices, and potential operational silos. To fully reap the benefits of a multi cloud architecture, you may need a platform-agnostic tool to centrally manage your cloud operations. Another tip for successfully managing a multi cloud architecture is to partner with experts in the field who can help you develop solutions for securely transitioning from a single cloud or hybrid cloud scenario.

New Context partners with businesses around the world to support and enable their transition to a multi cloud architecture. Call us at 1.888.773.8360 or contact us online to learn more.

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