It's time to prepare for a multi-cloud future

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<pre><pre>It's time to prepare for a multi-cloud future

Companies are increasingly turning to more than one provider for data storage.

January
6, 2020

Read 6 min

Opinions of entrepreneur Contributors are their own.


Clouds are on the horizon. No, not just in front of your window, but in every corner of your business. Your company probably needs more than one cloud-based service provider. Where in a multi-cloud world are you going for your 30,000-foot view?

It is the next chapter in a story that has been developing rapidly for good reason in recent years. Cloud solutions offer clear advantages in terms of costs, scalability and reliability. For small and medium businesses, this means hassle-free access to the latest and greatest cloud-based tools, or the freeing up of valuable time and IT resources previously used to maintain a room full of servers.

And increasingly, companies cannot be satisfied with just one cloud-based service provider. In a TechRepublic survey last June, two-thirds of respondents said their companies are currently using or want to use services from multiple cloud-based providers, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure being the most popular options. Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud were in the middle. IBM Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud and Fijitsu Cloud Services captured smaller market shares.

That's right – the future is multi-cloud. And in many ways it has already arrived and heralds new IT strategies, new business methods and fierce competition between cloud providers.

Related topics: You shouldn't miss these advantages of cloud computing

Growth and competition in the forecast

These forces are changing the framework: Research firm Gartner predicts "exponential" growth in the global market for public cloud services, which is expected to grow by 17.5 percent in 2019 to $ 214 billion and reach $ 332 billion in just three years becomes. According to Gartner, growth was largely driven by cloud infrastructure services, and more than a third of companies consider cloud investments to be one of the top three investment priorities.

However, multi-cloud goes far beyond the infrastructure. It also includes the many cloud-based tools a company needs to do business. That said, if your company already uses various cloud-based services for accounting, CRM, marketing automation, analysis, etc., then congratulations! You are already playing in the multi-cloud sandbox. (Note: Your next step should be to block a solution that combines all of this data in different locations to give you a significant overall view.)

Competition is fierce in this landscape and the industry leader AWS is facing ever greater challenges on the market. Take, for example, Microsoft's recent launch of Azure Synapse Analytics, a huge leap forward from its Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which has already sparked enthusiasm for its ability to combine data warehousing with big data analytics, and its integrated partner ecosystem (including data warehouses).

And that's not the only win for Microsoft's Azure cloud lately. In October, the software giant signed a massive and competitive $ 10 billion defense contract on AWS. Another recent shock came from Salesforce, which announced in November that it would use Microsoft Azure to power its marketing cloud, even though it has already signed contracts with Google Cloud and AWS, making it a prime example of a multi-cloud Strategy for companies.

Five advantages of a multi-cloud approach

As the Salesforce case in particular shows, the showdown between cloud providers is just beginning and many companies are starting to think about when and how – not whether – they move to a multi-cloud strategy. Here are just a few reasons to seriously think about it:

  • By using multiple cloud-based tools and providers, you can take advantage of the best strengths and features.

  • A variety of partners can team up to meet your individual needs and keep pace with your growing business.

  • While the cost of using multiple providers must be considered, they can prove to be a cost-effective way to put together subscriptions to set priorities that are most important to you.

  • The distribution among the providers prevents customers from being tied to a single provider.

  • Although the complexity of a multi-cloud approach can pose a security challenge, it also offers better protection against DDoS attacks.

What is the bottom line for SMEs?

For a small or medium-sized company with Salesforce ambitions and a small budget, this can (rightly) seem daunting. Concern about complexity remains one of the most common reasons why companies are reluctant to adopt a multi-cloud approach. This concern is particularly relevant for startups with small engineering teams, who are mainly concerned with expanding the core product and not with the internal IT requirements of the company.

For companies in this position, a step into the future with multiple clouds should begin with a thorough review of all cloud providers, combined with an honest assessment of the company's needs and capabilities, both now and over time. Are the solutions user-friendly? Will they scale as the company grows? Can the solutions help the company create a single source of truth with minimal maintenance? What does it cost, both time and money? Not Follow a multi-cloud approach? These are just a few of the most important questions that SME managers should start with.

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Search for a silver lining

How can a company prepare for this reality in a rapidly changing IT landscape? It helps to look for a silver lining. Yes, a multi-cloud strategy can be complicated, but the best industry-wide tools for different business areas are increasingly based on the cloud, and this trend will only accelerate. Companies can certainly find that the considerable advantages are worthwhile.

But even when things change, the ultimate goal for businesses of all sizes remains to get better insight at the moments when they matter most. With vendors battling for dominance and market share, smart businesses will now invest in vendors that can be seamlessly integrated with different cloud providers and make it easy to view data across the enterprise, regardless of where they are. It's the difference between being caught in the fog and discovering this all-important source of truth – looking at the clouds from above.