December 1, 2022
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Scott Pletcher wrote in “Multi-cloud Madness” that he doesn’t advocate organizations spread their cloud investments over numerous public cloud providers. Yes, there are many various perspectives on this, including mine. “Diluted skills development” and “unnecessary complexity” are my responses to “avoiding vendor lock-in” and “diversifying our cloud investment.”

Pluralsight recently interviewed Scott about multi-cloud. He said:

How common is it to spread cloud investments across multiple public cloud platforms?

Surveys show that most firms use a multi-cloud strategy. Hybrid-cloud strategies combine one public cloud provider with virtualization equipment in their own data centers. Fewer companies use cloud services.

You can use numerous public clouds for many reasons. A merger or purchase may have given you a new public cloud. After years of working separately, you may be merging IT. If you need a local provider, you’re already multicloud because some cloud providers aren’t available in certain locations for global organizations.

What are some “wrong” reasons to adopt multiple public cloud providers?

SP: Several viewpoints on this topic require updating.

Some corporate executives believe employing several public clouds will help them negotiate with other service providers. All major cloud providers offer similar services due to competition. If you’re having trouble with your current cloud service, you can switch to another (though not ideal, since your teams will need additional upskilling). You don’t have to repay your previous provider for sunk costs. Your cloud architecture should make everything transportable.

Businesses often use many public clouds for reliability. Multiple raw material sources are common in production to reduce supply risk. Work with many telecommunications partners to protect yourself if a reckless utility crew cuts a fiber optic wire.

Public cloud service companies, meanwhile, guarantee reliability. If you properly construct your system and use the providers’ redundancy capabilities, your data and service should continue to function even if a tornado destroys a cloud data center.

What are the pros and cons of using multiple public clouds?

SP: Let’s look at the considerations through a few different lenses:

Cloud skill development

There are considerable differences in how to use and leverage each cloud provider’s potential. Each supplier has unique peculiarities that rarely map one-to-one.

Given the lack of cloud experts, using multiple public clouds will complicate recruiting and training. You also climb competency hill.

Skill mastery comes through practice, not top-notch training. Multiple public cloud providers will take more practice and increase errors and redos.

Multi-cloud architecture

Workloads can be moved to the cloud in many ways. “Lift and shift” (placing VMs or containers on the public cloud) gives temporary benefits.

Cloud-native designs like fully managed services and serverless offer real benefits. Each major provider may help you increase scalability, reduce expenses, boost security, and delegate monotonous jobs. Cloud-native designs benefit from cloud prices and efficiencies.

If you use multiple public clouds and seek cloud-agnostic design, you may only get “lowest common denominator” architecture (most likely at the VM or container level). You risk reducing your cloud assets’ ROI and won’t completely benefit from any provider’s efficiency.

Resilience

When public cloud providers have an outage, you should examine your own vulnerability. Should you diversify your cloud provider portfolio? It’s conceivable to build a more robust landscape than many huge cloud providers, in my opinion. Cloud-native architectures should have resiliency built in.

If you haven’t already, providers offer default replication, auto-scaling, and auto-failover options. You must use manual or third-party options to monitor systems, sync data, and start failovers between providers. If you don’t have a team of cloud engineers who are experts across several cloud providers, you’ll see more handoffs and touches, which is problematic in emergency situations.

Gartner analyst Lydia Leong says multi-cloud failover is not the best way to achieve resilience.

Cost

Why make two when one would cost twice as much? is a line from the movie Contact, which stars John Hurt. Because cloud providers provide spending plans and tiered pricing, consolidating your spending with one source might lead to lower invoicing expenses.

When there are multiple cloud providers, the costs are not restricted to those that are indicated on the monthly invoice. Other direct and indirect costs, such as those for hiring and skill development, are also included in the total cost of ownership.

Are there other aspects of multi-cloud that organizations should be aware of?

SP: Some proponents of using many public clouds might have ulterior motives. For instance, if a cloud provider wants to grow its market share, it has an incentive to promote multi-cloud as a perfectly rational strategy. They can be striving to take advantage of any situation to get a piece of the action.

Similar to this, third-party tools exist to help companies manage cloud complexity, and it makes logical that they are open about the many benefits of multi-cloud.

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