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What is multicloud?

Multicloud - the use of cloud services from two or more vendors - gives organizations more flexibility to optimize performance, control costs, and leverage the best cloud technologies available.

Multicloud is the use of cloud services from more than one cloud vendor. It can be as simple as using software-as-a-service (SaaS) from different cloud vendors – e.g., Salesforce and Workday. But in the enterprise, multicloud typically refers to running enterprise applications on platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) from multiple cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

A multicloud solution is a cloud computing solution that's portable across multiple cloud providers' cloud infrastructures. Multicloud solutions are typically built on open-source, cloud-native technologies, such as Kubernetes, that are supported by all public cloud providers. They also typically include capabilities for managing workloads across multiple clouds with a central console (or 'single pane of glass'). Many of the leading cloud providers, as well as cloud solution providers such as VMware, offer multicloud solutions for compute infrastructure, development, data warehousing, cloud storage, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), disaster recovery/business continuity and more.

The Key to Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Strategy - On-premises cloud remains critical to a future-ready hybrid infrastructure.

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Value and benefits of multicloud

The overarching value of multicloud to the enterprise is that it prevents ‘vendor lock-in’ - performance problems, limited options, or unnecessary costs resulting from using only one cloud vendor. A multicloud strategy offers organizations

  • Flexibility to choose cloud services from different cloud providers based on the combination of pricing, performance, security and compliance requirements, geographical location that best suits the business;
  • Ability to rapidly adopt “best-of-breed” technologies from any vendor, as needed or as they emerge, rather than limiting customers to whatever offerings or functionality a single vendor offers at a given time;
  • Reduced vulnerability to outages and unplanned downtime (because an outage on one cloud won’t necessarily impact services from other clouds);
  • Reduced exposure to the licensing, security, compatibility and other issues that can result from “shadow IT” - users independently signing up for cloud services that an organization using just one cloud might not offer.
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Multicloud management

The key to maximizing the benefits of a multicloud architecture is to manage applications and resources across the multiple clouds centrally, as if they were part of a single cloud. But multicloud management comes with multiple challenges including:

  • Maintaining consistent cloud security and compliance policies across multiple platforms;
  • Consistently deploying applications across target environments (e.g., development, staging, and production) and various hosting platforms;
  • Federating and visualizing events from logging and monitoring tools to achieve a singular view and configure consistent responses

Organizations use multicloud management tools - or preferably, a multicloud management platform - to monitor and manage their multicloud deployments as if they were a single cloud environment. The best multicloud management platforms typically offer

  • Visibility into, and control over, any cloud resource, including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS offerings and associated data storage and networking resources across public cloud, private cloud and edge deployments.
  • Analytics and/or artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, including artificial intelligence for operations (AIOps). AIOps uses AI and machine learning to sift through the 'noise' of data for metrics, telemetry, that the organization can use to streamline operations, predict availability or performance issues and even automate corrective actions across the multicloud infrastructure.
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Multicloud, hybrid cloud and hybrid multicloud

Hybrid cloud is the use of both public cloud and private cloud environments, with management, orchestration and portability between them that enables an organization to use them as a single, unified, optimized IT infrastructure.

Multicloud and hybrid cloud are not mutually exclusive. In fact, most enterprise hybrid clouds are hybrid multicloud, in that they include public or private cloud services from at least two cloud service vendors.

Hybrid multicloud builds on multicloud benefits with

  • Improved developer productivity: Hybrid multicloud both enables and is enabled by Agile and DevOps development methods and cloud-native application technologies such as microservices architecture, containers and serverless computing.
  • Enhanced security and regulatory compliance: In addition to providing multicloud's broad access to top security and compliance technologies, hybrid multicloud provides the flexibility deploy and scale sensitive data or highly regulated workloads in the most secure and compliant ways, and the convenience of implementing security and compliance consistently across all cloud services, cloud vendors and cloud environments.
  • Greater efficiency and spend optimization: Beyond the flexibility to choose the most cost-effective cloud service, hybrid multicloud provides the most granular control over where workloads are deployed and scaled, enabling organizations to further improve performance (e.g., deploy closer to users to reduce latency) and optimize spend. Hybrid cloud also helps companies modernize existing applications faster, and connect cloud services to data on cloud or on-premises infrastructure in ways that deliver new value.
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Multicloud and IBM Cloud

To advance your digital transformation, IBM offers products and services that support the multicloud approach to application development, migration, modernization, and management. Working with IBM, you’ll have access to  AI-powered automation capabilities, including prebuilt workflows, to make every IT services process more intelligent, freeing up teams to focus on the most important IT issues and accelerate innovation.

Take the next step:

  • Deploy and maintain applications across multicloud environments consistently, with more global visibility and less management complexity, using IBM Cloud Satellite. Use a single API to create a distributed cloud location, then add host machines from any cloud, on-premises data center, or from the edge.
  • Jump start hybrid multicloud development and application modernization with Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud. Leverage the enterprise scale and security of IBM Cloud and the automation power of Kubernetes to deploy full-managed, highly available clusters across clouds with a single click.
  • Explore IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, an AIOps solution that deploys advanced, explainable AI across the ITOps toolchain so you can confidently assess, diagnose and resolve incidents across all cloud environments and mission-critical workloads.
  • Learn more about IBM multicloud services and hybrid and multicloud strategy (PDF, 427 KB).

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