Demystifying The Multi Cloud
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Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Approach

Airwaves have been inundated with ads promoting cloud technologies from major companies – Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon control the IaaS market, while companies like Red Hat and OpenShift control PaaS services.  Companies like Goggle dominate the SaaS cloud services, which leaves a major question for any CIO: since infrastructure, platform, and software cloud technology all run with different strengths from different vendors, does it make sense to mix and match their various services, essentially opting for a multi-cloud strategy?  The short answer is obvious – absolutely!!  Right now, about 85 percent of major companies have committed to a multi-cloud infrastructure, as it maximizes the incredible benefits cloud technology provide while minimizing its risks and pitfalls.  In the following article, we will go through the different strategies that make a multi-cloud strategy such a success.

Locked-In and Bogged-Down: Key Issue with a Single-Cloud Approach

As any accomplished CIO will know, cloud technologies come in different forms – IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS all are technically cloud-driven technologies, yet all accomplish a different targeted purpose within a company’s structure.  Here’s where the distinctions can cause trouble for the IT division – let’s say a leasing company wants to develop its own unique application-based software for tenants to submit maintenance requests.  If a CIO ended up utilizing the wrong IaaS platform and the application somehow required a patch to work with the infrastructure, it could end up costing the company tons of revenue to fix the problem.  Locked in to a contract with that single vendor, a little misstep could double IT expenses, forcing the department to contract a second cloud vendor to fix the inadequacies of the first one.

In that case, you would be paying out the rest of the contract to the original vendor while also trying to negotiate with a new vendor.  Here is where problems begin snowballing with a single-cloud methodology.  Should that cloud vendor lack a single crucial factor in providing service, you have no option but to run out the contract and bleed money to find a new provider.

A multi-cloud strategy can wholly avoid any kind of issue like the one described above.  To maximize the benefits and ROI of a multi-cloud approach, a CIO needs to make sure they closely follow how each contract with each outside vendor is managed, while also making sure all applications and programs from each different provider fall under the company’s single IT “roof.”  This becomes the primary job for a CIO managing a portfolio of cloud tech partners – why?  Hopefully, the extensive use of the different clouds eliminates the need for any on-premise data storage or hardware centers.  Instead of spending money installing such hardware, resources should go to ensuring each contract with each cloud provider is drawn out with precision.  Figuring out what services your company needs from which providers becomes the major hurdle to clear on the way to profitability.  To take full advantage of these emerging technologies, a CIO needs to “map out” what particular services the IT department needs from each vendor: that way, one can avoid paying for overlapping services, ensuring each cloud platform serves a specific reason.

Key Cloud Questions: Public or Private? Multi or Hybrid?

To make sure utilization of such a sophisticated technology performs seamlessly, it is important also to distinguish between public and private cloud servers.  Many CIOs just immersing themselves in cloud technology can confuse a “multi-cloud” vs “hybrid cloud” approach.  Multi-cloud (as has been discussed at length here), refers to the specific strategy of utilizing multiple public clouds and virtual infrastructure as a strategy, whereas hybrid cloud approaches key in on balancing using public clouds for internet-based interaction (e.g. – customer transactions), while storing sensitive data on a private cloud only accessible to managers and heads of IT departments.  While we are focusing on multi-cloud approaches for this article, we felt it prudent to mention how hybrid clouds can work in concert with multi-cloud approaches.  On top of filling out any CIO’s overall cloud tech strategy, knowing the differences between public and private clouds can help ensure a company’s IT structure from any security threats, like DDoS attacks.

Final Word: Framework for a Successful Multi-Cloud Strategy

To achieve a smooth, low-cost, effective multi-cloud strategy, any CIO would want to start by organizing an inventory of the workload tasks he or she would want the cloud strategies to solve (e.g. – payroll, application upkeep, customer transaction data).  Additionally, with the dozens of potential cloud vendors available, the next step would be mapping out the characteristic strengths and weaknesses of each platform – extensive research would be needed to identify which vendors could best provide the specific services your company requires.  After specifying team members to watch the costs and data transfers for cloud platforms, one would need to make sure that any applications built upon cloud software, or any OS running cloud tech would need to have maximum flexibility and accessibility from any location with internet.  Otherwise the main benefit of utilizing cloud tech becomes neutralized, leaving companies with the same burdensome costs of on-premise data centers, but none of the advantages portable clouds can provide.  Finally, a good CIO would constantly watch how important data transfers across each platform, managing how each server interacts with the other.  As long as these interactions amongst different cloud platforms remains a CIO’s primary concern, then the benefits of a multi-cloud approach outweigh the potential complexities that arise centralizing all these different platforms under one IT “roof.”

Benefits of a Multi-Cloud Approach

In this scenario, the limited flexibility of being tied to a single vendor would mean that if the application had a problem with the cloud platform it was built on, you would have no options to fix the issue, other than to invest more costly resources in uninstalling and running out the contract with the cloud vendor.  In this scenario, you may be locked into a yearlong contract with a cloud provider, but you discover six months in that you need to move to a different provider to access a unique service they offer your initial vendor did not.

Make no mistake – as your business grows, the viability of a multi-cloud approach becomes more and more relevant. Major companies like HD supply, Wells Fargo, and Capitol One (among thousands of others) are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating their multi-cloud strategy, and we recommend you do the same for your business. If you are checking in and reviewing your cloud approach (at least) every six months, you can ensure a secure, multi-pronged, and prosperous approach for taking advantage of cloud technology platforms.

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