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3 min read

Taking a Multi-Cloud Approach

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As someone who has helped thousands of businesses to achieve technical enlightenment, it is important to realise that one size does not fit all. The virtualisation market has developed and flourished over the past 20 years and the lines drawn in the sand in relation to public and private cloud are now merging into a unified solution. What is it specifically that prohibits businesses from committing to one platform?

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons, but not an exhaustive set of reasons:

  1. Best of Breed – Why wouldn’t you host Active Directory on Azure? As I have always said, certain workloads are suited to specific platforms.
  2. Business Continuity – Outages are a fact of life in IT, it is hard to mitigate against a natural disaster, but we can plan around them.
  3. Compliance – General governance and risk management, or even data sovereignty laws could lead a provider to requiring multiple cloud environments to achieve their goals.

…And no, I didn’t miss it out, of course the evil word; cost.

The first three are relatively self-explanatory, protecting yourself from disaster and abiding by the law, but the third is in many cases the rationale for investigating a multi-cloud approach. The fact is that some things are just more expensive on public cloud than they are on private cloud. In addition, the fact is that some services are only available on public cloud, often due to deployment sizes or insufficient geo-diversity of certain private cloud solutions for example. Yes, I concede, there is always someone who has deployed it somehow, somewhere in a laboratory - Nevertheless that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea to run production services on such infrastructure.

In many cases the most surprising cost for clients moving to public cloud are in relation to data storage. Private cloud solutions traditionally offer high performance storage solutions in a more cost-effective manner when we are discussing larger volumes.

However, if you just want to expand quickly for example into foreign territories and just dip your toe in the water, you likely don’t want to be spending private cloud money for a few virtual machines. In fact, any transient workload, public cloud can be your best friend but if you have stable and guaranteed workloads then in reality there is no reason why private cloud won’t be more cost effective and more suited to your needs.

The key point here is that just because something is popular it doesn’t mean it should be the use case for all eventualities. We should utilise every tool in the tool box that we have; if that looks like a private cloud in Frankfurt, a couple of public cloud instances London and a dedicated server in Sofia, then that is the picture that needs to be painted.

As a business it is your responsibility to keep costs down, it is your responsibility to comply within the law and protect your customers from certain disaster. The key take-away here is that there are intrinsically wrong solutions for certain workloads but these are simple decisions which can be made with a logic tree. Is what I am doing illegal? If yes, then don’t do it, do this – But I cannot afford to take option 2! Can you afford not to? Additionally, are you sure you cannot afford to?

Going back to cost, invest in uptime. If you cannot afford a fully resilient private cloud solution (multiple hypervisors) and your load cannot be placed in public cloud then your old friend the dedicated server comes into play, utilise either Hyper-V, VMware or Proxmox as an example and invest in RAID, in addition to a robust backup strategy with something like Veeam. Private cloud can offer some amazing benefits in terms of failover, however, with some relatively simple technology you can achieve amazing results to suit a budget.

At the end of the day, whether you call something, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud (they are different concepts), I always opt for “the right solution for the right problem” approach as opposed to getting caught up in technological hype. So, my suggestion on every consult is to take the “right” approach and follow an organic path that works for you, your client base and your businesses as a whole.

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