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Mitigating the Challenges of a Multi-Cloud Strategy in a Hybrid IT World

Alex Marcham, Senior Director of Product Strategy

Multi-cloud is an example of a Hybrid IT operational model. Enterprises choose multi-cloud strategies and Hybrid IT operational models because the benefits include flexibility and the ability to leverage best-in-breed solutions.

The trade-off for gaining flexibility is introducing complexity, which comes from leveraging multiple service providers and solutions.

The good news is this complexity can be mitigated while also improving the return on investment in IT infrastructure, as well as optimising the performance of applications that lead to overall improved business outcomes and customer satisfaction.

Multi-Cloud Strategy Enables New Opportunities

Although we may often think of cloud computing as one single, standardized set of services, each of the cloud service providers is considerably different from the others in how they allow you to consume their resources as well as the more sophisticated services that they provide.

For example, an enterprise could decide to use Oracle for database services, AWS for storage, and Salesforce for Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

  • Make more effective use of their data
  • Respond to new business opportunities with agility
  • Optimise their internal and external product offerings

Forrester Analytics Business Technographics® survey data found that among IT leaders in North American and European enterprises, 30% currently or plan to use public cloud to run HPC and 25% currently or plan to use private cloud for HPC.

The benefit of being able to adapt to change quickly and design a unique overall architecture from a menu of choices has led many IT departments across the globe to look beyond a single-cloud strategy.

Hybrid IT: Increase Flexibility, Manage Complexity

IT leaders have found that the key to getting the most out of a best-in-breed multi-cloud strategy is to continue to evolve towards Hybrid IT. In many cases the challenges of a multi-cloud strategy are a key driver for their move to Hybrid IT.

One common example of a Hybrid IT operational model is balancing on-premises data centre colocation with single cloud and multi-cloud data storage, which creates the requirement for multi-cloud connectivity.

Managing the complexity that results from multiple services, and finding ways to reduce its impact by using the right services in the right places, is the key to optimizing your Hybrid IT strategy.

How Colocation Helps Improve Hybrid IT ROI

Emerging applications from AI to HPC allow enterprises to unlock new opportunities by analyzing the massive amounts of data that is generated by digital transformation initiatives. The volume of data that is created must be stored, but also easily accessible.

As the amount of data that any organization is using to guide their decisions multiplies, and data gravity increasingly impacts performance, the need for the data centre colocation piece of the equation grows. A 2023 IDC forecast predicted the continued growth of data consumption at over 20% per year over the next several years. Most of this growth will be driven by enterprises.

Data storage in the cloud comes with a set of costs and parameters which must be well-understood, and the more clouds that you use to store your data the more there is to keep track of. It is not best practice to exclusively leverage clouds for data storage, from the perspective of cost control, performance, management, and risk mitigation.

Enterprises reported that their #1 cloud challenge in 2023 was managing cloud spend. Storing the bulk of a company’s data in a colocation site, whether on owned hardware or on a dedicated service provider’s, can significantly improve the cost profile of overall IT operations. Not only does the colocation model put the company in charge of its own data storage hardware, it also removes the data egress fees concept that many clouds employ that make it hard to move data out of a particular cloud.

Additionally, multi-tenant colocation data centres can be the optimal focal point of your wider Hybrid IT strategy, including multi-cloud – but only if that facility is part of a larger global data centre platform that reduces complexity by consolidating vendors.

The ideal data centre partner provides network connectivity and service orchestration capabilities on top of physical space and power. With a true multi-cloud strategy, you need to have access to each cloud on equal footing via an open network platform. The combination of a physical and logical network and all of its associated services provides you with economical and equal access to each element of your Hybrid IT architecture.

Flexibility means Agility Benefits

As your infrastructure needs grow and evolve over time, this Hybrid IT model that leverages multi-cloud strategy can help you optimise the balance of cost, performance, and new capabilities as you optimise your IT infrastructure.

To recap, here are the key elements of an optimised Multi-Cloud Strategy:

  • Multi-cloud strategy fully enabled through a colocation data centre with an open network platform

  • Application and infrastructure access via cloud onramp connectivity, integrated directly into the network platform

  • Open platform that enables orchestration of services across cloud providers and other providers to that platform

  • Global data centre platform that allows you to consolidate vendors and further reduce complexity

By viewing multi-cloud as a key component of a broader Hybrid IT operational model, rather than something separate, we can see how it comes together with colocation in a multi-tenant data centre to create a more economical and flexible base that enables growing enterprises to adapt to change and remain agile and take advantage of new opportunities.

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ServiceFabric™ is a service orchestration platform that seamlessly interconnects workflow participants, applications, clouds, and centres of data exchange. Enable connected data communities with ServiceFabric™ on PlatformDIGITAL®, Digital Realty’s global data centre platform.

Learn more about ServiceFabric and ServiceFabric Connect, or reach out to a Solution Architect to discuss how we can help you optimise your Hybrid IT architecture today.