Cloud Computing

Multi-Cloud is “The New Normal”

Not least the disaster of Nirvanix had shown that one should not rely on a single cloud provider. But regardless of spreading the risk, the usage of a multi-cloud strategy is a recommended approach which already is conscious or unconscious practionzed.

Hybrid or multi-cloud?

What actually means multi-cloud? Or what is the difference to a hybrid cloud? Well, by definition a hybrid cloud connects a private cloud or an on-premise IT infrastructure with a public cloud to supply the local infrastructure with further resources on-demand. This resources could be compute power, storage but even services or software. Is a local email system integrated with a SaaS CRM system it can spoken about a hybrid cloud. That means a hybrid cloud stands not just for IaaS or PaaS scenarios.

The multi-cloud approach extends the hybrid cloud idea by the amount of connected clouds. Exactly spoken, this can be n-clouds which are integrated in some kind of forms. Here, for example, cloud infrastructures are connected that applications can use different infrastructures or services in parallel or depending on the workload or the current price. Even the parallel or distributed storage of data over multiple clouds is imaginable to ensure the availability and redundance of the data. At the moment multi-cloud is intensively discussed in the IaaS area. Therefore taking a look on Ben Kepes‘ and Paul Miller’s Mapping Session on multi-cloud as well as Paul’s Sector RoadMap: Multicloud management in 2013 is recommendable.

What is often neglected, multi-cloud has a special importance in the SaaS area. The amount of new SaaS applications is growing from day to day and with that the demand to integrate this varying solutions and let exchange the data. Today, the cloud market moves uncontrolled into the direction of isolated applications while each solution offers an added value, but in the result leads to many small data silos. With this kind of progress enterprises already fought vainly in pre cloud times.

Spread the risk

Even if the cloud marketing always promise the availability and security of data, systems and applications, the responsibilty to ensure this lies in the own hands (This refers to an IaaS public cloud.). Although cloud vendor mostly provide ways and means using IaaS, the customer has to do things on its own. Outages known from the Amazon Web Services or unpredictable closures like Nirvanix should lead to more sensitivity while using cloud services. The risk needs to be spread consciously. Here not all eggs shut be put into one basked but strategically distributed over severall.


The best-of-breed strategy is the most widespread approach within IT enterprise architectures. Here multiple integrated industry solution for various sections within a company are used. The idea behind best-of-breed is to use the best solution in each case, an all-in-one solution usually cannot offer. This means one assembled the best services and applications for its purpose. Following this approach in the cloud, one is already in a multi-cloud scenario what means that approxiamtely 90 percent of all companies using cloud services are multi-cloud users. If the used cloud services are integrated remains doubtful.

Which is recommended on the one hand, is on the other side unavoidable in many cases. Although there are already a few good all-in-one solutions on the market. Nevertheless, most pearls are implemented independently, and must be combined with other solutions, for example email and office /collaboration with CRM and ERP. In respect of the risk this has its advantage, especially in the cloud. If a provider fails only a partial service is not available and not the overall productivity environment.

Avoid data silos: APIs and integration

Such best-of-breed approaches cloud marketplaces attempt to create, by grouping individual cloud solutions into different categories to offer companies a broad portfolio of different solutions, with which a cloud productivity suite can be put together.

Nevertheless, very highly controlled and supposedly integrated marketplaces show a crucial point with massive integration problems. There are many individual SaaS applications that do not interact. This means that there is no common database and for example the email service can not access the data in the CRM service and vice versa. This creates, as described above, individual data silos and isolated applications within the marketplace.

This example also illustrates the biggest problem with a multi-cloud approach. The integration of the many different and usually independent operating cloud services and their interfaces to each other.

Multi-cloud is “The New Normal” in the cloud

The topic of multi-cloud is currently highly debated especially in IaaS environment to spread the risk and to take advantage of the cost and benefits of different cloud infrastructures. But even in the SaaS environment the subject must necessarily become a greater importance to avoid data silos and isolated applications in the future, to simplify the integration and to support companies in their adaptation of their best-of-breed strategy.

Notwithstanding these expectations, the multi-cloud use is already reality by companies using multiple cloud solutions from many different vendors, even if the services are not yet (fully) integrated.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.