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How to Determine Your Needs for a Multi-Cloud Architecture

By: Blair Felter on April 12, 2019

Many organizations have benefited immensely over the past decade from the cost savings, infrastructure scalability, and ease of management offered by public cloud computing. Despite those advantages, however, public cloud deployments aren’t always a one-size-fits-all solution. Concerns over control, security, and uptime availability have caused some companies to shift away from a purely public cloud solution in favor of completely on-premises infrastructure or a hybrid cloud solution that incorporates aspects of private and public cloud computing.

But for some companies, these solutions don’t offer the versatility they need to meet their operational objectives. They may have different departments that require different software platforms or may be developing and launching applications using different PaaS tools.

Sometimes, one cloud just isn’t enough. That’s why many organizations are opting for a multi-cloud deployment that incorporates more than one public cloud service into their network architecture. According to IBM’s research, 85 percent of enterprises are already operating in multi-cloud environments. That figure will likely rise to 98 percent by 2021, with 2019 expected to see massive growth in the multi-cloud market.

5 Considerations for Determining Your Multi-Cloud Needs

1. Short- and Long-Term Business Objectives

Any decision to adopt a cloud computing solution should be part of a broader business strategy. This may include growth plans, potential mergers or acquisitions, new product launches, geographical expansions, new markets, and innovation initiatives. These priorities will drive needs like scalability, latency requirements, and budget planning. One of the primary advantages of public cloud computing is that it allows organizations of all sizes to scale rapidly and efficiently. Setting up a hybrid cloud solution or multi-cloud environment to accommodate flexible growth enables them to grow organically without having to invest in new computing infrastructure.

2. Existing Infrastructure

Many organizations have substantial legacy infrastructure and applications that may need to be incorporated into a new multi-cloud environment. They must determine which systems are mission-critical and worth preserving and which should be retired in favor of new solutions. Some applications might be able to be moved using lift and shift strategies, but others might require more difficult rearchitecting. Existing data needs to be cataloged and migrated with minimal disruption or loss. Relationships with vendors may be affected by the transition as well.

3. Security and Compliance Obligations

Public cloud computing introduces a number of additional security considerations since they are accessed by so many users outside the organization. Multi-cloud environments can protect the most vital assets and data within the private portions of the network. If additional security is needed, colocation data centers often offer encryption services through hardware security modules. Building a multi-cloud network or a hybrid cloud solution within a data center environment can also help ensure that industry-specific compliance requirements are being met both today and in the future.

4. User Experience

A multi-cloud deployment won’t do an organization much good if it’s unintuitive and difficult to use. This applies to both internal users within the organization and external customers. If a public cloud computing service isn’t delivering a satisfactory user experience, there should be many other options available through a well-connected colocation data center. Cross connects and direct connection services (like Azure ExpressRoute) can greatly improve productivity and efficiency. A multi-cloud network that incorporates edge computing architecture can help deliver faster, low latency services to customers that keep them engaged and satisfied.

5. Competency with Public Cloud Computing

Rolling out a new network infrastructure should never happen in a vacuum. Organizations need to be sure to train their staff on how to use multiple cloud providers. Some departments might only use one cloud service, but others may have to switch between multiple cloud applications on a regular basis. With so much data cycling from one cloud service to another, employees need to know the proper security protocols for handling that sensitive information in a multi-cloud environment to help protect the organization from harmful data breaches.

A smooth-functioning multi-cloud environment can deliver tremendous value, but only when it is carefully designed to incorporate the public cloud computing platforms that allow a company to better serve its customers. By evaluating what they need from their multi-cloud architecture, organizations can implement a network infrastructure that is customized to suit their ongoing business needs.

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