Technology May 24, 2019 Last updated May 23rd, 2019 95 Reads share

How to Decide Between a Mixed or Single Cloud Provider

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So you’ve decided to go with a public cloud solution. You’re not alone. The worldwide public cloud services market was expected to grow 21.4% in 2018, bringing it to a total of $186.4 billion. That’s an increase of $32.9 billion over 2017. Then, the market was worth a total of $153.5 billion, according to Gartner, Inc.

Somewhere along the line, you decided that managing a private cloud would be too expensive, too labor intensive, or both. One of the major benefits of a public cloud solution is that you aren’t responsible for any of the management of a public cloud hosting solution. Your data is stored in the provider’s data center. The provider is responsible for the management and maintenance of the data center.

The next major decision you’ll make is who will be providing your business’s cloud environment. Going with a single vendor can provide some serious ease of use and cost savings. Going with multiple vendors can provide more flexibility and customization.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of these solutions and what you need to consider as a business owner. This should help you effectively choose between the two options.

Using Multiple Vendors

One of the main concerns CIOs have with a multi-vendor solution is the amount of effort and time it takes to maintain data flow between different cloud networks. These integration challenges used to be the number-one obstacle to adopting innovative applications from a variety of software makers.

However, these fears are subsiding in recent years. The increasing ubiquity of application programming interfaces (APIs) has made it easier than ever to integrate applications and move workloads between clouds.

Utilizing multiple vendors for cloud services increases your business’ flexibility when selecting software that works best for you.

Using A Single Vendor

A single cloud environment may be more fitting for smaller or less technically adept organizations. A single cloud helps them gain the many benefits of the cloud without being overwhelmed. It can also be a great beginning point for startups with plans to grow in the future. They often feel they need fewer cloud resources for the time being.

Single providers enable organizations to move workloads to the cloud as their needs change. However, they have the option to expand the number of virtualized servers as their needs grow. Often, organizations with a single cloud model are employing the cloud for a single service or application, such as email, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), or similar function.

Larger organizations can also enjoy this approach when their entire suite of apps is through a single provider. This increases ease of scale and transfer of data.

Ken Hess, co-wrote the book Practical Virtualization Solutions: Virtualization from the Trenches, and is a proponent of a one-vendor approach.

“When you mix and match vendors and solutions, it’s like trying to build a car using parts from three or four different automobile manufacturers,” Hess noted. “You might be successful in creating a solution that works, but it won’t be an optimal product.”

Cloud leader Oracle has been driving the success of their cloud services by becoming a “one stop shop” for CIOs who are looking for simple, easy applications that can solve multiple problems. They recognize that their customers do not like to be responsible for the complex process of integrating numerous applications or running on multiple vendors’ clouds.

We can see that the cloud solution trend is moving towards using multiple vendors but some leaders in the industry disagree.

Key Points to Consider

Now that we’ve been over the pro’s and cons of multi-vendor and single vendor solutions, let’s take a look at the key factors to consider that can help drive this decision.

Vendor “Lock-in”

Being “locked-in” to a single cloud provider could be an issue for some organizations. This can give a single cloud provider more leverage over an organization. Implementing a hybrid approach, using multiple vendors’ cloud infrastructure, can help offset lock-in issues. IT teams can use a multi-cloud approach to quickly migrate away from a provider they’re having issues with.

You need to decide how much flexibility you are willing to give up in the search for your cloud solution. In the case of a single cloud environment, the only other option is to move data and services back to the organization’s on-premises infrastructure or migrate everything to a different provider. This can be limiting and, depending on how much data is stored in the cloud, bringing it back in-house may not be feasible without purchasing more server storage. For organizations that include vendor lock-in as a major risk, a multi-cloud approach may be the better choice.

Flexibility

The amount of flexibility your organization needs is another factor to be considered. One of the prime benefits of a multi-cloud strategy is that it enables you to choose providers that offer innovations to fit your specific needs and workloads.

This flexibility can go a long way in helping spur innovation within your organization. One provider may offer the best solution for your email service or data storage, and another provider may be better at providing development and testing environments. You may find a third vendor that is best for serving applications in production.

With a single cloud provider, you’re limited to only their offerings, and that one-size-fits-all approach may be difficult to adapt to your organization’s requirements.

However, for those organizations willing to give up some flexibility for ease of use, a single provider of all your cloud services can be the best choice.

Cyber Security

Security and compliance issues have historically made organizations reluctant to adopt cloud technologies. However, as cloud providers are increasingly working to better address security and privacy concerns, this is becoming less of an issue.

In any type of cloud environment, security is a shared responsibility between the provider and the organization. In a single cloud environment, this division is easier to tend to than in multi-cloud environments, which complicates the matter.

With different vendors comes different security protocols and rules for your business. This complexity creates more work and responsibility for your internal IT team members. Also, the extent of the shared responsibilities will most likely differ between providers. This places the onus on your organization to understand the distinctions between them.

Issues surrounding security in single and multi-cloud environments are never gone. They are however easier to manage when your cloud services come from a single provider.

Added complexity and “Cloud sprawl”

One of the bigger issues surrounding a multi-cloud strategy is the complicated nature of the strategy. This requires your IT team to understand the nuances of the various cloud providers. In addition, how best to leverage them for the benefit of the organization.

However, one of the key advantages for outsourcing your cloud services is to off-load your reliance on internal resources. A multi-cloud solution may not be the best choice for your business if you don’t have the personnel to support it.

Various providers have different architectures, which each need to be considered and addressed properly during adoption. An app created on and for use on one cloud provider will require changes should the need arise to move it to another provider.

The risk of cloud sprawl is another concern that can cause complexity in a multi-cloud environment. “Cloud sprawl” occurs when the organization loses track of their cloud computing resources. It can happen in a single or multi-cloud organization, but the issue is more common with multi-cloud solutions.

 

There is so much to consider when deciding whether you should implement a multi-vendor/multi-cloud approach versus a single provider. You need to determine how much flexibility you are willing to sacrifice and the number of internal resources you are willing to maintain.

If you can support a larger IT team and flexibility is crucial, a multi-cloud solution is best. If you can handle a more rigid framework and want to reduce your reliance on internal IT team members, consider a single provider for your cloud solutions.

Always remember, there is no magic bullet. Each business is unique. Choose what is best for your situation, and you can’t go wrong.  

 

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson

Contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If I’m not writing my latest blog post in my kitchen, you'll likely find me strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.

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