According to RightScale’s 2018 State of the Cloud Report, 81% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. Of those, 21% with a multi-cloud (also known as polynimbus) strategy, have designed it for use with multiple public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft. More simply put, having a multi-cloud strategy, is an indication that an enterprise plan to use two or more cloud computing services.

In 2019, the steps required to move an application to the cloud are commonly understood, though it may not always be simple. Traditionally, you’d pick a cloud provider that matched the feature set of your application and evaluate any application integrations or business processes affected and adjust accordingly. Multi-cloud complicates this model because you’re asked to choose among several providers. The choices made have long term impacts, both positive and negative, on your organization.

Early on, many organizations considered a multi-cloud strategy because they were unsure about cloud reliability. In addition, IT leadership is often trained to avoid vendor lock-in and that also influenced the design of early multi-cloud strategies.

Today, multi-cloud scenarios are often designed around redundancy and specialization of service offerings of a particular geography. Data sovereignty reasons can also play a significant role relative to certain laws and regulations that may require the data an enterprise generates to physically reside in specific regions. These are all noteworthy advantages when it comes time to develop your own multi-cloud strategy, but there are three areas of special consideration as you develop your strategy:

  1. Many cloud providers offer discounts based on the growing use of a particular service. The more you use, the more you save. These discounts are designed to encourage an enterprise to concentrate its business with a single cloud provider. When a business reaches a certain size, it has more leverage to dictate terms to a cloud provider. For the rest of us, it’s the cloud provider that dictates the terms. With some careful upfront planning, you can maximize the value delivered to your customers while still optimizing the price point for a deployed service.

  2. Standardize where possible. Be leery of pet projects or shadow IT efforts that lock your enterprise into a single cloud provider’s proprietary service. For example, if your organization has made an investment in containers, stick with Docker and Kubernetes as they have been standardized across all major public cloud providers and this gives you the opportunity to leverage a common container orchestration platform. In an ideal world, the right tools and platforms will abstract away the underlying cloud provider differences and allow multiple clouds to work like a single cloud.

  3. A multi-cloud deployment requires an IT staff to have expertise in multiple cloud platforms. The amount of change and innovation coming at us is an ever-growing mountain of knowledge. And given the fluid nature of rapid release cycles of cloud providers today, how does your organization plan to stay current? Plan to take advantage of continuous training opportunities to upskill your IT staff and keep your cloud costs optimized.

A multi-cloud environment gives an organization tremendous flexibility in deploying and supporting mission-critical applications. Take some time to carefully consider the practical steps above when planning your multi-cloud strategy.