The pros and cons of multicloud networking
Multicloud isn't always a sign of cloud maturity. In this post, we cover the pros and cons of multicloud networking and why you need a strategy to succeed.
Aug 16, 2023 • 4 Minute Read
- IT Ops
- Learning & Development
Multicloud is one of the latest cloud trends. But just because most organizations are following a multicloud path doesn’t mean it's right for every team. While some are well-equipped to use multicloud networking to grow and gain a competitive advantage, others lack the skills, structure, or strategy to see success.
Before you go all-in on multicloud, weigh the pros and cons to make sure it’s the right decision for your organization.
Table of contents
What are the pros and cons of multicloud networking?
While there are some pros for investing in a multicloud environment, the technology itself is still relatively immature. As a result, few organizations are in a position to successfully leverage a multicloud environment and see any sort of measurable business impact. That said, there are some organizations that can make it work—with a fully-developed multicloud strategy.
Cloud skill development takes time and resources
While each cloud provider offers similar functionality, how you use and optimize that functionality differs widely. All cloud providers have nuances that rarely map one-to-one. This means your team needs to understand each provider in your multicloud strategy.
Unsurprisingly, multicloud networking makes it harder to find the cloud talent you need. Cloud talent pools are already competitive—using multicloud requires you to find the 9% of cloud technologists with significant experience in multiple clouds.
While you can—and should—train your existing technologists in multiple clouds, doing so requires time and resources. They need access to courses or certification programs to learn the platforms. Then they need the chance to practically apply those skills before entering your production environments.
Is it impossible? No. But you need to close the multicloud skills gap before you can lean on multicloud as a solution in your organization.
Multicloud architecture may limit efficiency
There’s no one right way to migrate your workload to the cloud. When deciding on your migration strategy, choose the option that best fits your business needs and goals. For example, a lift and shift migration for a legacy application may reduce costs and increase efficiency with auto-scaling. But rehosting typically won’t deliver the full benefits of a cloud-native architecture.
Most cloud providers offer functionality designed to increase scale, reduce costs, boost security, and offload work from your employees. Organizations that harness cloud-native architectures benefit from these advantages.
However, if your organization uses multiple public clouds and wants cloud-agnostic architecture, you’ll likely be limited to the “lowest common denominator” architecture across the providers (most likely at the VM or container level). You won’t be able to take full advantage of any single provider’s efficiencies, reducing the potential ROI of your cloud investments.
Multicloud strategies are resilient
When the cloud goes down, it’s natural to consider going multicloud to make your business more resilient. But if you’ve built a cloud-native architecture, resilience is baked into the service, regardless of whether you have a single cloud provider or multiple.
Most cloud providers allow you to enable replication, auto-scaling, and auto-failover across multiple sites and/or regions in case of an outage. If you build these resilience features across multiple providers, you need to use manual or third-party tools to monitor each system, sync data, and trigger failovers between them. And if you don’t have a team of unicorn cloud engineers with expert-level fluency across multiple providers, you’ll need to plan for more handoffs (which isn’t ideal in a crisis).
Balancing cost with other multicloud benefits
Cloud providers offer spending plans and tiered pricing, so consolidating your spend with one provider can drive lower invoice costs. If your organization uses multiple cloud providers, you may incur costs not listed on the monthly invoice, like those related to recruiting and skill development. These can add to the total cost of ownership.
How common is multicloud networking?
According to the latest State of Cloud survey, 65% of organizations currently operate in a multicloud environment, and 20% say they’re actively pursuing an additional cloud platform. But building a multicloud architecture and seeing success with that architecture are two different things.
Why is multicloud networking so popular?
There are many reasons organizations may choose a multicloud path—some more strategic than others. The most common reasons? To enable flexibility (62%), improve resiliency (61%), and leverage “best-of-breed” cloud-native services (59%). Organizations that choose multicloud for these reasons often base their decisions off long-term strategies for the scalability and security of their multicloud environments.
When is multicloud networking the “wrong” option?
Multicloud makes sense when it’s a strategic decision based on business initiatives. But not all organizations think long-term. Those that adopt multicloud for less critical reasons won’t see the success they anticipate.
Leaders looking to multicloud to avoid vendor-lock in (52%) or reduce cloud costs (50%) are often thinking in the short term about ways to gamify or manipulate the cloud providers instead of focusing on their business needs. In truth, all the major cloud providers have similar offerings, which means (if your cloud architecture is designed properly) everything should be relatively portable if you need to switch cloud providers for any reason.
And then there are the organizations that didn’t choose multicloud, but fell into it as a result of acquisitions, legacy efforts, or organic growth (52%). These organizations often struggle with multicloud success because it wasn’t a part of their cloud strategy to begin with. Their only options are to leave the extra cloud solutions alone or try to incorporate them into their existing strategy as they go.
Why is it important to have a multicloud strategy?
A multicloud environment can bring a variety of benefits to your organization, but it can also add unnecessary complexity. Before adopting multiple clouds, ask yourself:
What do you want to achieve with multicloud?
Can you do that with one provider?
If you decide multicloud networking is right for your organization, make sure you develop the strategy to go along with it.