Multi-Cloud Strategy Challenges that Business Leaders Face

5 Multi-Cloud Challenges

Today, some companies are embracing the concept of a multi-cloud strategy by using multiple cloud providers instead of one. Those adopting the strategy often do so for perceived benefits such as avoiding vendor lock-in, exploiting pricing programs, and allocating specific workloads to whichever platform provides the best fit. But in doing so, many of those organizations aren’t considering some of the challenges they’re likely to face.

 

5 Multi-Cloud Challenges to Consider

 

1. Compliance

When an organization operates across multiple clouds, spanning a variety of geographic regions, it can be difficult to know where data physically resides. This is a problem because it is a requirement to know where data is located to remain compliant with HIPAA healthcare, and CJIS government regulations, among others. Being unsure of the location of data also puts General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance at risk. Forbes recently called GDPR “the greatest change to European data security in 20 years,” and it does affect U.S. businesses. One aspect of GDPR that can really give an IT team a headache is the requirement that customers be informed of a data breach within 72 hours of learning of the attack. That’s a lot of investigation to do in a short window of time, which becomes even more complex when the whereabouts of data is unknown. Lastly, utilizing multiple clouds makes it much easier to accidentally run a specific application in an unapproved environment, once again risking compliance.

 

2. Multi-Vendor Management

While organizations may like the idea of not being tied to one provider, managing multiple vendors with differing skill sets and separate portals can be a burden. It can also be taxing on the internal IT team, who may need to manage different operating systems, administration tools, identity and access management, development languages and frameworks, and cloud management platforms.

 

3. Redundancy

A catalyst for many organizations adopting a multi-cloud strategy, redundancy gives organizations a sense of safety. The thought is that they can place primary systems on one cloud platform, and their backup or secondary on another platform. This way, if the primary provider experiences a power outage, data breach, or other disaster, they can continue to operate through the backup cloud provider without missing a beat. However, it doesn’t always work like that. If redundancy is a factor for considering multi-cloud, organizations should be prepared to test the failover process numerous times throughout the year to make sure the secondary platform will operate as intended following an event.

 

4. Security

Different cloud providers have different levels of security. Reputable providers are responsible for much of the security of their infrastructure; protecting data held in their infrastructure through multi-factor authentication vectors, encryption technologies, and identity and access management. On the other hand, less scrupulous providers may become a bit lax in this department. To maintain security, it’s important that cloud vendors are chosen carefully and that IT health assessments are performed regularly; over time, infrastructure and software change as do cyber threats, making this extremely important. Author and IT security expert Bruce Schneier says that “security is a process, not a product,” and we couldn’t agree more! Of course, performing these IT assessments regularly when using multiple cloud providers can become time-consuming, so internal IT teams should be prepared.

 

5. Cost Controls

Many organizations look at a multi-cloud strategy as an opportunity to exploit pricing programs of various providers, and then choose to work with the ones that consistently provide the best balance on their budget. What they fail to consider, however, is that many cloud platforms use volume pricing; the more workloads you run, the less it costs. So, by spreading workloads across numerous clouds, organizations may wind up paying a higher price per unit. Cloud sprawl can also be costly; this generally happens when employees are running apps simultaneously across multiple clouds, resulting in additional spend.


While a multi-cloud strategy may be right for some organizations, it’s important to seriously consider these challenges and perform an ROI analysis. Another option for organizations? A virtual private cloud (VPC). A VPC is just as virtual as the public cloud, however, instead of sharing resources and space in a public infrastructure, they operate with a certain level of isolation between customers. Operating within a reputable provider’s VPC can also eliminate the challenges of a multi-cloud strategy, offering redundancy, security, compliance, and economies of scale—not to mention the benefit of having one dedicated provider with IT pros on hand 24/7. Want to learn more about a VPC? Contact one of our IT experts at DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider.

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