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The Advantages and Challenges of a Multi-Cloud Strategy

| | Chief Cloud Officer, SEEBURGER AG
Advantages and Challenges of a Multi-Cloud Strategy

Sofware as a Service (SaaS) offerings are becoming more and more popular in companies. Sourcing these from multiple clouds is proving increasingly advantageous and offers a number of competitive advantages. However, following a multi-cloud strategy presents companies with new integration challenges. Get to know both sides.

This first part of our two-part article on multi-cloud strategy presents the competitive advantages and challenges of following a multi-cloud strategy. The second part looks at the solutions iPaaS offers for a multi-cloud approach.

Multi-Cloud Strategies Provide Companies with Competitive Advantages

The corporate world has been moving towards multi-cloud for years. The best-known cloud service providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). They provide the cloud infrastructure on which various SaaS providers can host and deliver their solutions to their customers. Large, individual SaaS providers such as Salesforce also enjoy a high profile. In addition, there are a large number of lesser-known providers that provide the cloud infrastructure for SaaS, individual SaaS solutions, or both. The cloud and SaaS market as a whole is growing and changing.

There are a number of good reasons why companies should pursue a multi-cloud strategy.

First, a multi-cloud strategy allows companies to access the very specific capabilities they are lacking. Consequently, many companies tend to look a specific set of tasks hosted on a cloud, and are finding that cloud provider offerings differ, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The best of breed approach, where companies select and deploy the best market solution for their particular task, works best with a multi-cloud strategy.

Second, a multi-cloud strategy helps improve business continuity. As a company is not completely dependent on one single cloud service provider, the likelihood of a service outage or severe decline in performance due to a catastrophic event is reduced. Workloads can be distributed across multiple clouds, reducing the risk of severe outages. This enables faster failover or takeover.

Third, a multi-cloud strategy helps companies scale their software and IT resource needs. This could be useful if, for example, certain functions or storage resources are urgently needed on a short-term basis to meet a particular need.The resources required can be swiftly set up and just as quickly taken down again , saving costs.

Fourth, a multi-cloud strategy can reduce the cost of software operations and storage capacity. This is possible because customers benefit from the lively competition between the various SaaS and other cloud service providers and the resultingly strong competition on price.

Fifth, a multi-cloud strategy protects against possible vendor lock-in by SaaS providers. Resources can be distributed across multiple cloud providers, which avoids dependency on  a single supplier. In addition, the strong competition in the market means that some SaaS providers try to make switching from competitors’ offerings to their own as easy as possible for those wanting or willing to switch. In summary, a well-implemented multi-cloud strategy makes companies more productive and flexible at a lower cost.

Challenges of Multi-Cloud Strategies

However, pursuing a multi-cloud strategy creates new challenges. Basically, using a number of different cloud solutions make it difficult to coordinate and keep track of them. Furthermore, if the cloud integration or SaaS integration in the company is sub-optimal , there is a strong likelihood of operations being inefficient or prone to errors.

Specifically, this may mean:

  1. Applications and workloads are executed independently of each other, rather than being coordinated. While this could prove to be advantageous for specific tasks, it is not always helpful when it comes to coordinating and monitoring these applications as part of an enterprise-wide multi-cloud strategy. Particularly when it comes to exchanging data with other applications. This creates new silos.
  2. Ensuring compatibility becomes difficult because data is stored in different locations and is managed by multiple applications. This often means multiple different log-in procedures and user interfaces. Moreover, users have different authorization rights and the individual applications have different security levels. This makes it difficult to keep track of everything and manage it properly.
  3. On the one hand, as discussed above, taking a multi-cloud approach can save costs. However,on the other hand, costs may actually rise as it’s difficult to keep track of so many products from different providers. Having a number of contracts with a variety of tariffs make it difficult to spot duplicate services, a price increase or a tariff change by an individual cloud service provider.

These points may become even more pertinent if shadow IT, which takes on a life of its own in many companies, is formalized and placed under official supervision.

Using an iPaaS provides an answer to these challenges. We will look at this in detail in the second part of our article on multi-cloud strategy.

Would you like to learn more about iPaaS? Have a look at our iPaaS blog section for a variety of articles on this topic. It’ll be time well spent!

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Dr. Martin Kuntz

Written by:

Dr. Martin Kuntz has worked for SEEBURGER AG since 2000, and is a member of the Board of Directors since 2015. His strengths lie in the Cloud, business applications, and the digitalization of specialty and technical business processes. He has degrees in physics and business administration. Earlier, he worked for several years in the Simulation department of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology and for Airbus subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space.