Multicloud is the latest trend in cloud computing with more than 80% of organizations operating inside a multicloud environment. But just because it’s the new shiny toy doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all solution.
The truth is, not all organizations are ready to implement a multicloud strategy successfully. Doing so prematurely could be more harmful to your organization than helpful. So how do you know if you’re ready to take the leap? And what should you do if you’ve already jumped in feet first?
A successful multicloud strategy relies on a solid cloud computing foundation. Build (or reinforce) that foundation, and you’re more likely to see the benefits of a multicloud environment than the obstacles. That strong foundation starts with understanding what multicloud actually is.
What is a multicloud environment?
Multicloud is a cloud computing strategy where an organization uses multiple cloud service providers or platforms to host an application or website (software as a service, or SaaS), to run specific tasks related to an application (platform as a service, or PaaS), or as an underlying technology infrastructure (infrastructure as a service, or IaaS). But let’s break that down a bit.
What makes up a multicloud environment?
If your organization is using two or more public cloud providers (such as AWS, Azure, or GCP), you’re operating in a multicloud environment. On the other hand, if it’s using only one public cloud provider with an on-premise solution or private cloud, your organization is operating in a hybrid cloud environment.
But there’s also a third scenario where an organization utilizes a private cloud and public cloud providers. In that case, it's operating in a hybrid multicloud environment.
How does an organization operate in a multicloud environment?
The next part of that multicloud definition deals with the cloud computing components of a multicloud environment: SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. Since most SaaS applications are decoupled from the actual platform, we’ll focus on IaaS and PaaS.
Think of IaaS as building blocks. It’s the network, compute, and storage services that make up your cloud environment. PaaS fits on top of that and handles the heavy lifting.
For example, you could install and run a compute service on Oracle, but then you’d be responsible for all patches and updates. However, a managed database service like Amazon RDS that functions as a PaaS can take all that pain away, handling patching, upgrading, and backup recovery.
What challenges do organizations face when implementing multicloud environments?
The number one indicator of whether your organization is ready to go multicloud is if you have people on your team who know what they’re doing in a multicloud environment. Unfortunately, most organizations lack this talent. According to a 2022 Hashicorp survey, lack of skills is the top barrier to multicloud. And we’re seeing that, too. In Pluralsight’s 2022 State of Cloud report, we found that less than 8% of technologists have extensive experience with cloud-related tools.
This lack of multicloud skills results in complex architectures, increased security risks, and higher costs—all pain points for any modern organization.
The lack of adequate skills on your team immediately starts to manifest in complicated architectures. It could be because your team doesn’t know enough about cloud offerings to select the right services or from developers overlooking foundational cloud practices.
Read Noreen Hasan’s article for a good story about how even seasoned developers can choose the wrong cloud service in the name of speed. Noreen wanted to migrate a site to an AWS EC2 instance only to receive a hefty AWS expense and realize there was a better service available.
Learn more about Noreen's experience in her tell-all blog.
Cost optimization is a key reason organizations seek out multicloud computing. And it looks good on paper. Leveraging the different pricing structures and cloud-native features should generate lower costs and greater returns. But your cost-optimization strategy can be only as effective as your underlying architecture allows.
The right architecture, built by experts with the right skills, can save you a lot of time, energy, and money, but the inverse is also true. Done incorrectly, you might end up with tens of thousands of virtual machines at 2% CPU utilization because your team didn’t design the right architecture with ephemeral workloads or infrastructure as code (IaC).
Increased security risks
One of the biggest concerns leaders have about the cloud, and more so in relation to multicloud, is security. But Gartner reports that through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Why? Because very few organizations are operationalizing and automating their cloud security practices.
It’s things like IaC and immutable infrastructures that keep your cloud (or multicloud) environment secure. You just have to have the right people with the right knowledge and skills to implement the security practices that keep your confidential data confidential.
How do I know if my organization is ready for multicloud?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Are 10% of your workforce committed change agents to cloud computing?
Are they cloud certified? Do they know how to use that certification within your environment? Are they paying it forward by helping others out?
Have you established a community of practice with at least 10% of your workforce?
Once you’ve hit that 10% number, it’s going to be much easier to move forward with a multicloud environment. Anything underneath that is just an echo chamber that you’re never going to get out of. But when you hit 10%, you’ve created a culture of cloud that attracts other like-minded people. Building that culture is the ultimate goal. From there you can start on that multicloud journey.
5 keys to successful organizational design
How do you create an organization that is nimble, flexible and takes a fresh view of team structure? These are the keys to creating and maintaining a successful business that will last the test of time.Read more
8 ways to stand out in your stand-up meetings
Whether you call them stand-ups, scrums, or morning circles, here's some secrets to standing out and helping everyone get the most out of them.Read more
Technology in 2025: Prepare your workforce
The key to surviving this new industrial revolution is leading it. That requires two key elements of agile businesses: awareness of disruptive technology and a plan to develop talent that can make the most of it.Read more