What Is Multicloud? Definition and Benefits
In recent years, there has been a massive shift in cloud strategy, marking a transformative era where organizations no longer depend solely on a single cloud provider for their business needs.
The multicloud model, which involves using multiple cloud computing services, is quickly gaining momentum. It has become the ideal cloud strategy for businesses looking for flexibility, agility and better control to support increasingly distributed workloads, services and workforces. According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to reach $600 billion in 2023.
This article delves into the essence of multicloud, its significance, challenges and the criticality of disaster recovery in this intricate ecosystem.
What is multicloud?
Multicloud is a strategic approach where businesses use services from multiple cloud service providers at the same time. Multicloud, as the name implies, comprises a mix of multiple (two or more) public clouds, multiple (two or more) private clouds, or a combination of both.
A multicloud strategy empowers your organization with enhanced flexibility and agility. By utilizing multiple cloud providers, you can pick services that best meet your specific business requirements.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, 98% of respondents said they are either currently using or intend to use a minimum of two cloud infrastructure providers, with 31% actively employing four or more.
Why is multicloud important?
A multicloud approach allows businesses to avoid vendor lock-in, distribute workloads across diverse platforms seamlessly and optimize costs. It helps you mitigate risks associated with relying solely on one provider.
It strengthens organizational resilience and reliability. Diversifying across various cloud providers minimizes the risk of downtime; for instance, if one provider experiences an outage, operations can seamlessly shift to another, ensuring business continuity.
Different cloud providers offer specialized services based on their unique strengths and capabilities. Multicloud strategies enable optimization of services by utilizing the unique offerings of different providers, leading to enhanced performance and cost-effectiveness.
Multicloud also helps strengthen security and meet compliance requirements. In the event of a cloud outage, this strategy can also be utilized to failover to sustain business operations.
Common use cases of multicloud
Multicloud has become a popular choice among businesses due to its myriad of use cases — from workload distribution, geographic diversity, cost optimization and performance enhancement to development agility and disaster recovery strategies. Let’s take a closer look at each of these use cases.
Workload distribution and redundancy
One of the most important use cases of multicloud is workload distribution and redundancy. By strategically dispersing workloads across multiple cloud providers, your organization can minimize the risk of service disruption and ensure operational continuity. This approach is particularly vital for critical applications where uninterrupted service is paramount.
Geographic diversity and compliance
Another compelling use case involves leveraging multicloud for geographic diversity and compliance. Businesses often need to adhere to specific data sovereignty regulations or cater to users in different geographic regions. With a multicloud model, as your business utilizes multiple cloud providers with data centers in various geographic locations, it allows you to comply with regional data laws while enhancing user experience by reducing latency.
Through a multicloud approach, your business can capitalize on the pricing structures of different cloud providers. This allows you to select cost-effective services and avoid vendor lock-in, which results in more efficient resource allocation and cost optimization.
Different cloud platforms offer specialized services and tools. A multicloud model allows you to capitalize on these unique offerings to enhance performance and scalability based on your specific requirements.
Testing and development
Businesses often utilize multicloud environments for testing and development purposes. By deploying applications across diverse cloud platforms, developers gain access to a broader spectrum of tools and services, promoting innovation and accelerating the development lifecycle.
Multicloud facilitates disaster recovery strategies by replicating data and applications across multiple cloud providers. This ensures business continuity in the event of system failures or disasters.
Examples of multicloud use cases
Key factors driving the adoption of multicloud strategies among businesses across industries are flexibility, scalability and resilience. Below are a few examples of multicloud use cases in action.
Banking and finance industry
Financial institutions handle large volumes of sensitive data and require uninterrupted operations. Multicloud setups offer redundancy and failover capabilities across various cloud providers, ensuring continuous service availability, even in the face of unexpected outages or system failures.
Compliance and data sovereignty are paramount in the banking sector. Multicloud strategies allow financial institutions to adhere to stringent regulatory requirements by spreading workloads across multiple providers with data centers in different regions. This ensures compliance with diverse data privacy laws while maintaining seamless operations across borders.
Optimal performance and speed are vital for e-commerce platforms. During peak shopping seasons or sudden spikes in website traffic, multicloud architectures enable e-commerce platforms to scale resources efficiently across multiple cloud providers, ensuring optimal performance and uninterrupted user experiences.
Additionally, multicloud strategies allow businesses to host content closer to their customers by leveraging multiple data centers across various regions. This geographical distribution enhances load times, reduces latency and improves overall customer satisfaction.
Healthcare organizations deal with massive amounts of sensitive patient data that require secure storage and accessibility. Multicloud environments enable them to distribute and store data across various cloud platforms, ensuring redundancy and availability while adhering to stringent healthcare regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Interoperability and integration across healthcare systems represent another crucial use case. Multicloud solutions facilitate seamless communication between different healthcare applications and systems, enhancing collaboration among healthcare providers, improving patient care coordination and enabling the integration of disparate data sources for comprehensive patient insights.
Manufacturers can leverage the multicloud model to streamline logistics, inventory management and distribution processes. This enables real-time tracking, efficient resource allocation and enhances visibility across the supply chain.
By harnessing the capabilities of various cloud platforms, manufacturers can collect, process and analyze massive volumes of data generated by sensors and machinery in real time.
Multicloud architectures also allow manufacturers to implement robust security measures and adhere to industry-specific regulations.
Common challenges of multicloud
While the multicloud model offers several benefits, it also presents several challenges that your organization must navigate effectively to harness the full potential of this approach.
Some of the key challenges of multicloud strategies include:
Interoperability and data integration issues pose a significant challenge in multicloud environments. Each cloud provider may have distinct protocols and formats, making seamless data exchange and application migration complex.
Data security concerns
Security and compliance remain critical concerns in multicloud setups. Managing consistent security measures across multiple platforms, ensuring data privacy, and adhering to regulatory requirements can be daunting.
Multicloud adoption also means dealing with different cloud providers, diverse architectures and varying management interfaces. This can lead to increased complexity in operations and governance.
Latency and performance issues
Latency and performance problems might occur as data moves through multiple cloud environments. This can impact application responsiveness and user experience.
Cost management is a common challenge in multicloud strategies. Without proper monitoring and governance, your organization may experience an unexpected cost increase due to underutilized resources or inefficient resource allocation.
Best practices to overcome multicloud challenges
To overcome the complexities of multicloud environments, your organization requires a strategic approach and proactive measures, such as:
Your organization must outline clear objectives with regard to multicloud adoption and ensure they align with business goals. Your strategy must include workload distribution, data management and vendor selection to ensure maximum utilization of multiple cloud services.
Robust governance and policies
You must establish strong governance and policies for seamless operations across diverse cloud platforms. Well-defined guidelines for data security, compliance and resource allocation will enable standardized practices, ensuring consistency and compliance with regulatory requirements.
Invest in the training and development of your employees. Provide training programs on handling multicloud environments. This will equip them with the expertise needed to manage complexities, deploy resources effectively and troubleshoot issues efficiently.
Continuous monitoring and optimization
Continuous monitoring and optimization are key practices for successful multicloud management. Regular assessment of workloads, performance metrics and cost analysis enables you to identify inefficiencies and implement necessary adjustments swiftly.
What to look for in a multicloud solution to support disaster recovery
Selecting an effective multicloud solution for disaster recovery is critical for businesses aiming to ensure continuity in the face of unforeseen disruptions. Several key factors should be considered when evaluating multicloud solutions tailored for robust disaster recovery strategies.
Data replication and consistency
Seamless replication and data consistency across multiple cloud providers are crucial. Select a solution that offers efficient data replication capabilities and ensures data consistency and synchronization across diverse cloud environments. This minimizes the risk of inconsistencies during recovery processes.
High-availability and resilience
Opt for a multicloud solution that provides redundant architectures across different cloud platforms. Redundancy helps mitigate the impact of potential outages or failures in a single cloud provider, ensuring uninterrupted availability of critical services in the event of a disaster.
Backup and recovery
Make sure the multicloud solution you select has automated backup mechanisms that allow regular snapshots of data and applications across various cloud environments. Robust backup and recovery functionalities ensure quick restoration of operations following a disruption.
Interoperability and ease of integration
Look for a multicloud solution that facilitates seamless interoperability between different cloud platforms. Compatibility and smooth integration enable efficient failover procedures and simplified management during recovery processes.
Security and compliance
Security and compliance features cannot be overlooked when selecting a multicloud solution. Your chosen solution should prioritize stringent security measures, including encryption, access controls and identity management, to protect your organization’s sensitive data. Additionally, ensure that the solution complies with industry regulations and data privacy laws relevant to your business.
Scalability and cost-effectiveness
Look for a flexible multicloud solution that allows your business to scale resources as needed during recovery phases without incurring high costs. Optimal resource utilization and efficient cost management contribute to the overall effectiveness of the disaster recovery strategy.
How can Unitrends help you with multicloud disaster recovery?
Unitrends provides comprehensive protection of your data regardless of where it lives — on-premises (private cloud), in public clouds (IaaS), SaaS applications or endpoints. Unitrends UniView simplifies data complexity by unifying on-premises, SaaS and cloud data protection. It allows you to manage all your backups from a single place. It includes robust security features like two-factor authentication and BackupIQ intelligent, customizable alerting to prioritize issues that impact your SLAs. This approach drives simplicity, reliability and total cost of ownership.
The requirements for business uptime and data retention are increasing. However, most organizations, especially small and midsize businesses, don’t have the budget for a secondary disaster recovery site or the time to manage off-site storage. Unitrends Cloud makes backup and disaster recovery simpler, more automated and reliable. Our backup appliances work in tandem with Unitrends Cloud to deliver long-term retention and disaster recovery spin-up at an affordable, predictable cost.
Unitrends all-in-one backup appliances automate manual tasks, eliminate management hassles and deliver tested hardware and software resilience. Our recovery series appliances deliver lightning-fast backup and restore and unparalleled security to safeguard your mission-critical data.
As your organization expands its cloud footprint, it’s critical to establish a business continuity plan for workloads in the cloud, such as Microsoft Azure. Unitrends Backup for Microsoft Azure replicates and stores data in a secure cloud outside of the Microsoft Azure environment for rapid recovery of data and disaster recovery spin-up of VM workloads in the event of data loss or service disruptions in the Azure Cloud.
While multicloud infrastructures are becoming mainstream, they also pose unique challenges. Refer to our resource, “4 Best Practices for Protecting a Multicloud Enterprise,” to better protect your data and work with confidence in today’s ever-evolving multicloud environments.