In this article we have featured Multi-cloud pros and cons, In his piece “Multi-cloud madness,” cloud guru Scott Pletcher writes, “In general, I don’t recommend that enterprises purposefully set out to distribute their cloud investment across various public cloud platforms.
Yes, there are various viewpoints on this matter and my opinion is of course my own. For every ‘avoiding vendor lock-in’ or ‘diversifying our cloud investment’ argument, I can reply with ‘diluted skills development’ and ‘unnecessary complexity.’”
Curious to hear more, Pluralsight recently interviewed Scott discussing his multi-cloud ideas. Here’s what he shared:
How typical is it to divide cloud spending over various public cloud platforms?
Scott Pletcher (SP): According to industry surveys, most firms have some type of multi-cloud strategy. But the most prevalent multi-cloud flavor is a hybrid-cloud model, combining one public cloud provider with virtualization hardware in their own data centers. Fewer entities employ numerous public cloud providers.
However, there are many legitimate reasons you can find yourself in a multiple public cloud scenario. Perhaps through a merger or purchase, you inherited a new public cloud.
Maybe you are integrating IT functions after many years of each business unit doing its own thing. For global enterprises, some cloud providers just don’t exist in certain countries, so if you require a local provider, now you’re multicloud…like it or not.
What are some “wrong” motivations to choose several public cloud providers?
SP: Some perspectives on this topic are old and require reevaluating, in my opinion.
For example, some corporate leaders assume that utilizing more than one public cloud will somehow protect their bargaining strength with other providers. This may have been accurate at one point but not in the current landscape.
Thanks to competition, all the main cloud providers have very comparable products. So, in the event you find yourself in a dispute with your cloud supplier, it’s attainable to switch to another one (though not ideal, since your employees will require additional upskilling) (though not ideal, since your teams will need additional upskilling).
You’re not committed to a massive pile of sunk cost in capital assets from your prior provider. And if your cloud architecture is done properly, everything should be relatively portable.
Reliability is another major reason that enterprises cite for purposely dealing with several public clouds. In manufacturing, it’s typical to have numerous vendors for the same raw material as a strategy to mitigate supply risk. Or, you might deploy numerous telecommunications partners to hedge against an errant utility crew accidently severing a fiber optic cable.
In contrast, public cloud companies offer methods and services to ensure reliability. If a tornado wipes out a single cloud data center, your data and service should still be humming along just fine provided you have architected things appropriately and are taking advantage of the redundancy capabilities the providers offer.
What are the pros and cons of using several public clouds?
SP: Let’s look at the considerations from a few different lenses:
Cloud skill development
While each cloud provider offers identical capability, how you use and maximize that functionality differs greatly. Each supplier has distinct quirks that rarely map over one-to-one, so your staff will need to gain additional knowledge.
Given the current shortage of people with essential cloud skills, you complicate your recruiting and training efforts if you opt to employ numerous public clouds. Plus, you extend the march up the competency hill.
While planned, high-quality training decreases time to full productivity, skill mastery occurs via hands-on practice. Having more than one public cloud provider implies your engineers will need more practice and, sadly, you also raise the possibility of blunders and do-overs.
Organizations have numerous options for how they transfer their workloads to the cloud. “Lift and shift” (putting VMs or containers into the public cloud) has been a popular starting point, but it only gives transient benefits.
The true benefits kick in when you’re able to harness cloud-native designs, which exploit alternatives like completely managed services and serverless.
All the main suppliers have significant offers to enhance scale, greatly cut cost, boost security and offload undifferentiated labor from your personnel. Cloud-native architectures often take greater advantage of cloud provider economics and efficiencies.
If you use numerous public clouds and desire cloud-agnostic architecture, you’ll likely be confined to the “lowest common denominator” architecture across the providers (most likely at the VM or container level) (most likely at the VM or container level). You won’t be able to take full advantage of any single provider’s efficiencies, and you risk decreasing the potential ROI of your cloud investments.
Any time public cloud providers encounter a well-publicized outage, it’s only natural to reflect on your own amount of vulnerability. Should you hedge your bets by adding another public cloud provider?
My belief is that one can construct a landscape that is as resilient or more resilient on any single large cloud provider than across numerous cloud providers. Ideally, if you’ve opted for a cloud-native design, resilience is baked in as part of the service.
If you’re not there yet, providers have multi-site and multi-region solutions with replication, auto-scaling and auto-failover that are either activated by default or a mouse-click away.
If you’re developing these resilience capabilities across several providers, you’ll have to employ manual or third-party options to monitor systems, sync data and trigger failovers.
Plus, if you’re not lucky enough to have a team of absolute unicorn cloud engineers that are expert-level fluent across various cloud providers, you’re going to have more handoffs and touches—not great in crisis scenarios.
Lydia Leong, Distinguished VP and Analyst at Gartner, published a comprehensive view on multi-cloud failover not being the method to accomplish resilience.
There’s a line in the movie Contact when John Hurt’s character says, “Why build one when you can have two at double the cost?” Cloud providers offer spending plans and tiered pricing, so consolidating your expenditure into one provider might drive down invoice cost.
Are there any aspects of multi-cloud that enterprises should be aware of?
SP: Some who urge adoption of a numerous public cloud method have potential underlying objectives. For example, if a cloud provider is aiming to grow market share, it has motivation to promote multi-cloud as a totally acceptable solution. They may be trying to obtain a piece of the pie however they can get it.
Similarly, there are third-party technologies to assist firms manage cloud complexity, and, understandably, they also are vociferous about the many benefits of multi-cloud.
Here are the most critical questions to ask yourself: