Cloud is an ever-evolving technology. As the marketplace for services gets more crowded and diverse, organisations are permitted greater freedom of choice about which environments best suit their applications. Increasingly often this means that IT buyers choose to combine the offerings of multiple providers to get the best value for money and operational efficiency. Here, Ed Owen, EMEA Cloud Sales Manager at Zerto looks at what is multi-cloud and how can it help the channel? Is it just another buzzword, or is there real value in helping to provide this capability?
The first real instance of this was hybrid cloud; IT teams began to realise that combining on-premises solutions with third party, public providers could bring the best of both worlds: security and scalability. Building upon this concept and taking it one step further is the notion of multi-cloud, and channel partners are uniquely positioned to advise IT customers on this latest trend.
In simple terms, multi-cloud is the use of multiple cloud services, and this could be any combination of private, public and on-premises. Typically, though, there will be at least one public cloud provider involved; we’re talking the likes of AWS or Azure, for example. The reason its gaining momentum is that by mixing and matching the best solutions and services for the individual needs of each workload, organisations can enjoy flexibility as IT and business priorities change – all while avoiding vendor lock-in. In its Worldwide Cloud 2017 Predictions, IDC forecast that over 85 per cent of enterprise IT organisations will commit to multi-cloud architectures by 2018.
That being said, separate research from the analyst house found that, while 40 per cent of European organisations already stretch applications across multiple clouds, only a few pioneers are making the technology and process adjustments to make this policy viable in the long run. Managing multiple clouds requires great skill and understanding of each platform, and without this, organisations run the risk of bypassing any benefit at all. With this in mind, the time is absolutely now for channel partners, particularly cloud service providers (CSPs), to help demonstrate the value in adopting a versatile cloud strategy. In turn, they can expect healthy margins.
CSPs, well-positioned and favoured for their ability to find the best in each cloud, are by nature available to organisations to help with the deployment, management and upgrade of cloud services. The success of hybrid cloud is at least in part owing to the advice that these businesses offer end-users, and the next step in this evolution is understanding how applications interact and integrate between public clouds rather than simply on and off-premises. If a CSP can master that, therein lies another route to revenue.
In order to make multi-cloud the next big thing for channel partners, alliances with strong technology vendors are key. In particular, software that can act as a universal platform across all clouds for areas such as workload mobility and protection will define the success of multi-cloud as a long-standing IT strategy. Integrated management and analytics capabilities also allow for CSPs to have a centralised overview of their end-user’s environments to help best advise in standardising workflows for optimal output. In summary, a strong technology foundation, in conjunction with the management and expertise layer offered by channel partners, is the secret recipe for success.