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What is multicloud?

Multicloud is the use of cloud services from more than one cloud vendor. It gives organizations the flexibility to optimize performance, control cost and avoid vendor lock-in.

It can be as simple as using software-as-a-service (SaaS) from different cloud vendors like Salesforce and Workday for example. 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 services 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 and cloud solution providers such as VMware, offer multicloud solutions for compute infrastructure, development, data warehousingcloud storageartificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), disaster recovery or business continuity and more.

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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 functions 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 licensing, security, compatibility and other issues resulting from shadow IT users signing up for cloud services that a single-cloud organization might not offer.
Multicloud management

The key to maximizing the benefits of a multicloud architecture is to manage applications and resources across 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, for example, 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 artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, including artificial intelligence for operations (AIOps). AIOps use AI and ML to sift through the 'noise' of data for metrics, and telemetry, that the organization can use to streamline operations, predict availability or performance issues, and even automate corrective actions across the multicloud infrastructure.
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 multiclouds, 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 enable 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 to 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 for example, 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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