Multi vs Single Cloud. Which strategy is best for your enterprise?

Emma Frame 13th August 2020

In startups, adopting a cloud first strategy (building solutions to problems, on cloud services instead of traditional IT) was an obvious choice.

In enterprises however, the term ‘cloud first’, which many CEOs have said, means something slightly different in that it can only be applied to ‘new or changing’ solutions and services.

The reality sadly, is that no enterprise I’ve worked with yet, has been able to adopt this strategy wholesale due to the complexity in the rest of the organisation.

March 2020 has certainly brought an urgency to the term ‘cloud first’ and I’m sure many organisations have made inroads, however, to adopt a truly cloud first strategy is to review the entire organisation and look to transform the people and process that will underpin it’s successful realisation.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown drove a drastic change in behaviour across the industry, with many (not all) beginning to explore opportunities in the cloud.

Spurred on by month-long delays in the supply chain for physical hardware, the cloud proved a knight in shining armour, providing instant relief for data space and remote infrastructure and accessibility.

For those who had already adopted the cloud, opportunities to tap into additional offerings within existing platforms became part of the business continuity roadmap. Those not yet on the cloud started to explore how cloud could support unprecedented demands and build resilience into IT operations.

The problem is, migrating to the cloud in a hurry can put your enterprise in a worse position. The reason for this could fall into any one of these buckets:

  1. Lack of careful planning and research. This can result in unnecessary disruption to your business, duplicated efforts and bill shock
  2. Assuming that one cloud solution can put out all your fires. Whilst a full cloud migration may be the best option, considering a hybrid approach (private and public) could mean less financial risk, better benefits and greater compatibility with existing IT operations and applications.
  3. Resistance to a cloud migration. Without a change management plan that prioritises leadership buy-in and use-ability of the platform to aid adoption, you may see progress hindered thanks to delays and a negative shift in culture.
  4. Failure to have the right talent for the job. Choosing your cloud platform is just the first step. You need to ensure you have cloud-native engineers capable of rewriting applications architecture for the cloud, completing a successful migration and using new systems. Without the talent, your migration will flop.
  5. Ensure you have the appropriate professionals for the cloud solution/s you choose. If these don’t exist internally, it will take time to train them to a standard capable of getting the most out of your cloud investment. The alternative is investing in a partner who can lend you the talent, which comes with its own cost. If you try and adopt a multi-cloud strategy in your enterprise, your engineers need to be able to specialise in at least one cloud, but they can’t achieve mastery across more than one.” Just something to bear in mind.
  6. Attempting to gain benefits from cloud without an operational transformation. This can see enterprise leverage cloud in similar ways to traditional IT, resulting in cloud adoption u-turns. We have seen a number of these and they’re not helpful in any way, reinforcing the fear/security/reliability challenges which are often raised by people that do not understand the cloud concept.
  7. Not enough consideration into whether a multi or single cloud strategy will better serve the enterprise.

Fortunately, we can help shine a little light on this last point.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, here are some key reasons why enterprises favour one strategy over the other.

ECS - Single-cloud vs multi-cloud

Operating on the cloud benefits enterprises for a number of reasons; including increased efficiency in operations and management, better support and access for a distributed workforce and reduced costs. If you’re looking to take advantage of cloud infrastructure, platforms, or software services, we highly recommend you carefully consider your business objectives and requirements, the current state of your IT operations, and cloud options available.

This analysis will help you identify potential issues, opportunities and needs before you invest in a migration. Especially when it comes to cloud mastery.

It took me 3 years to truly master AWS. It started when I was a Network Engineer in roughly 2014. It wasn’t until I’d moved into the Cloud Architect role at Nordcloud and subsequently the CTO role that I could say I was truly able to ‘Master’ just one Cloud (AWS). In fact, I wrote about my experiences in a blog not too long again.

Whilst I was able to study and leverage some of the services in Azure and Google (even passing my exam), this did not lead to mastery.

Companies shouldn’t underestimate the time it will take to make everyone capable of doing what’s needed AND therefore they shouldn’t underestimate the value of accelerated learning by leveraging a partner to help guide their paths.

If you’re interested in reading more about the trades off for gaining a good multi-cloud strategy, discover ECS’ latest opinion piece here.


More about the author:

Philip Smith is the CTO at ECS. Philip has over 20 years’ experience in the IT sector and is currently leading ECS in its Technical Capabilities and setting the strategy for increasing value for our client’s customers. He is achieving this by understanding enterprise Cloud transformation pain points to help shape the solutions ECS delivers, providing strategies for customers to unblock stalled transformation programs and implementing strategic partnerships to enable ECS and client growth and success.

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