Globally, 85% of enterprises are operating in a multi-cloud environment with most of the balance planning on embracing this methodology by 2021.
In South Africa, thanks to the recent arrival of multinational data centres, as well as carrier and cloud neutral datacentres, expectations are high that local organisations will follow suit.
Unlike a hybrid cloud which combines private and public cloud services for a common goal, multi-cloud entails using different clouds for different tasks. For example, provider X might be used for data warehousing while provider Y might be relied on for machine learning capabilities and provider Z for productivity capabilities.
“In the last few years, we have seen more South African companies actively putting plans in place to migrate to multi-cloud, and many have mature models in place. Those organisations who began the process a while ago, have already realised lower costs and improved service delivery while those still in the beginning of the journey are starting to manage their budget smarter in order to deliver on their business requirements in increasingly innovative ways,” says Trent Odgers, cloud and hosting manager: Africa at Veeam.
Already, Odgers says businesses are experimenting more with multi-cloud strategies and solutions better suited to the new way of doing business in a more consumption-based model.
“One of the keys behind this adoption is the ability to get data to and from cloud providers simply, safely and securely thanks to advanced backup and availability solutions that have built in cloud connect capabilities. These capabilities assist in delivering true multi-cloud capabilities without the risk of lock in. Companies can, therefore, shift between providers as their needs change or if they are not happy with service delivery. This is in stark contrast to the past when this used to be a complicated and time-intensive process,” he says.
Backup and availability
More sophisticated backup and availability solutions that provide effective and reliable ways of migrating data between cloud providers and even from the cloud to on-premise and vice versa are aiding in this pursuit.
This means that when you are reviewing your data protection strategy, you need to ensure that your vendor has these advanced restore capabilities built into the software. This gives decision-makers the peace of mind they need to examine the opportunities that are provided in the multi-cloud world.
“There is no single reason behind this push to the multi-cloud. Aspects such as improved connectivity at lower costs, ease of use, simplicity, reliability, better security, and availability are all contributing to companies feeling more comfortable in moving mission-critical data to the cloud.
Furthermore, thanks to backup and availability solutions, they have the confidence that they still have ownership of their data and can do with it what they want, when they want, with the provider of their choosing,” he says.
This is critical when it comes to advanced technologies reliant on public and managed cloud service providers.
Being able to deliver a 24×7 environment with guaranteed uptime of data and solutions is a business fundamental in the always-on world.
Technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things all demand access to continually available data in order to be effective. If on-premise systems go down and that data becomes unavailable, the sophisticated algorithms driving these solutions will not work optimally and could negatively impact the ability to make informed decisions.
For companies investing in these innovations, it is therefore essential to embrace a cloud approach that delivers data in secure and effective ways.
“This pressure for availability has given rise to the importance of Backup-as-a-Service, Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service offerings. Traditionally, business continuity was focused on having a replica of a production site with similar data at an alternative location. Given that it virtually doubled capex, the advent of the cloud resulted in these more effective alternatives becoming available. This presents decision-makers with more affordable options where they keep the Capex in the bank and only pay for the required services when they are consuming them,” says Odgers.
Using as-a-service, infrastructure costs are no longer a concern with cloud providers offering consumption-based pricing models with companies only paying for the resources they use. This fundamentally different approach makes these services more accessible to a range of organisations.
“So, not only is multi-cloud growing locally, the adoption of as-a-service offerings are as well. The technology is there to enable companies to protect their data and make it more available while lowering their operational costs. This is seeing South Africa well on its way to becoming a cloud-first market as more businesses are changing their methodologies for this new environment,” he says.
Of course, being cloud-first does not mean a business must be cloud-only. If workloads are too expensive to migrate to a cloud environment, or the latency or application dependency doesn’t fit the workload, then those workloads should remain on-premise for the time being, or until the system is designed to be more “cloud friendly”.
Going the cloud route is about enabling business acceleration to ensure that the customer experience is enhanced, while managing cash flow or to provide better service than what was previously possible. For the workloads better suited to going the cloud route, companies now have many cloud service providers to choose from.
“Given how budgets are still being pushed for maximum efficiency, organisations are scrutinising how best to keep their data available and their budgets intact. The multi-cloud route does offer an ecosystem capable of delivering round the clock availability. It is now up to the businesses themselves to start making the transition,” he concludes.