Multi-cloud strategy: 5 key trends now

Multi-cloud strategy: 5 key trends now

Let's examine the trends in multi-cloud strategy that should be on an IT leader's radar screen

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Edge computing trends 2021

4. Multi-cloud increasingly intersects with hybrid cloud

Definitions may vary, but multi-cloud and hybrid cloud aren’t the same thing.

Here’s how Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager, OpenStack, Red Hat, explained the difference in a previous article:

“Multi-cloud is one wherein you mix and match cloud services from different providers, often to meet specific workload needs, but not connected or orchestrated between them,” Balakrishnan says, where hybrid cloud means “a mix of on-premises private cloud and third-party public cloud with orchestration between these two.”

That said, a multi-cloud strategy and hybrid cloud architecture can go hand-in-hand – and that relationship is likely to deepen as IT shops continue to deepen their expertise and realize the benefits of both approaches. That’s bolstered by the aforementioned increase in software vendors that better support integration and other needs across diverse, distributed environments.

"There are very few companies that will be able to go all-in on a single public cloud for all their applications and services."

“The most prevalent trend is that hybrid cloud is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future,” says Ned Bellavance, director of cloud solutions at Anexinet. “There are very few companies that will be able to go all-in on a single public cloud for all their applications and services. The more common scenario is that companies will choose the public cloud or SaaS service that meets the needs for particular workloads, paying close attention to workloads that require close proximity.” 

Bellavance deploys a metaphor to make clear the appeal of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud. 

“Can you hammer in a nail with a screwdriver?  Sure, but it makes a little more sense to use a hammer,” he says. “Likewise, as the old proverb goes, when all you have is a hammer, [everything looks like a nail.].”

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud help CIOs ensure that their businesses have the right tools for the right jobs.

“This will lower the barriers to entry, improve time to market, and make your developers happy,” Bellavance says.

5. IT leaders benefit from a multitude of choices

It’s not just developers that should be happy, but CIOs and other IT leaders, too. There have never been more technology options for achieving your business goals. Once upon a time, you might have hammered that nail with a screwdriver because it was all you had in the toolbox.

But unless you’ve been marooned on an island somewhere for the past decade, you know that excuse simply isn’t applicable anymore. A diverse menu of technical choices is the norm, and strategic IT leaders are embracing it. 

“We are beyond the ‘binary choice’ argument and should start getting comfortable with the choices available,” says Jacek Materna, CTO at Assembla. “On-premises, bare metal, virtual machines, and public clouds all have a place in an organization’s infrastructure. It’s up to the CIO to decide what makes sense from a security and performance perspective and what needs to go where.”

Someone needs to help make sense of all those choices, though, and that’s a trend within the trend: In some organizations, multi-cloud strategy might be the positive evolution of so-called shadow IT, and a chance for IT teams to regain full visibility into what their companies are really running.



“Aside from the general multi-cloud strategy as a trend, we’ll start to see more central IT departments acting as ‘cloud brokers’ in an attempt to work with teams running shadow IT,” Materna says, noting that this could function as an olive branch between internal teams. 

Still, IT leaders will need to keep in mind why some teams went off and procured their own cloud services in the first place.

“The success of this trend will depend on how quickly central IT can accommodate fast-paced innovation within development teams,” Materna says.

[ Kubernetes terminology, demystified: Get our Kubernetes glossary cheat sheet for IT and business leaders. ]

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