Is Multi-Cloud Worth It?

The ONUG Community has been focused on building and running infrastructure that supports multiple cloud providers along with their on-prem data center resources. It’s hard and complex on so many levels; you have to wonder, is it worth it? All cloud providers offer different tooling and constructs up and down their stacks for consumers, which are different than on-prem. This makes moving from one cloud provider to another, or just starting new projects with a new cloud provider, hard. Try moving an application and its data from one cloud provider to another, and your development teams are sure to be frustrated and may even throw up their hands in disgust. So many large tech companies like Dell, Cisco, HPE, VMware, RedHat, etc., plus CSPs like AWS, GCP, Microsoft Azure, Oracle and IBM, are messaging a multi-cloud story. The problem is these solutions are in their infancy.   

If you are thinking that you should forget multi-cloud because the solutions are not ready, and it’s just too hard from a technology and operational perspective, and that you’ll just go single CSP, you may want to think twice. For those cloud-first companies that went all in on one CSP, there is a cautionary tale. Many of these cloud-first companies found that the more your business becomes entangled with a CSP, the harder it is to get free. That is, when your business processes, workflows, products, etc., are hosted on a single cloud provider, the deeper your corporation is embedded within that CSP. The CSPs’ tentacles are all around your business, making it virtually impossible to disengage. All the cost savings in the early days of using cloud don’t last as most are consumption-based pricing–the more you use, the more you pay. In short, you are locked in much tighter than IBM had you locked in with mainframes in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

To break through the complexity barrier of multi-cloud, the CSPs and on-prem tech firms need to prove these solutions work. Multi-cloud gets the industry back to multi-vendor systems that don’t necessarily interoperate, but collaborate or talk with each other to deliver an outcome. Some of these systems are ecosystem centric; others are based on open source or API-based solutions. In either case, they all are too complex. When a developer can write an application and submit it to a CI/CD pipeline that is multi-vendor and multi-cloud, that’s when we know multi-cloud is heading in the right direction. This gets us into multi-cloud; we still need the operational models to work. Multi-cloud is bigger than simply a massive, multibillion dollar IT supplier market. Multi-cloud is what gets the flywheel spinning to drive a global economy expansion, just like the Internet spun the flywheel of the late 90s economy. 

Multi-cloud delivers choices and options that enable value creation for all corporations. Multi-cloud done right will give developers the widest range of options and choices to write applications. It will deliver agility so corporations can innovate at the speed of business. The industry should not hinder CSP or enterprise tech innovation cadence. What it should do is provide common approaches to connectivity, security, observability and automation. There is a huge role here for large technology companies and start-ups to solve these multi-cloud infrastructure problems.  

At ONUG Spring last April, we started to organize live multi-vendor and multi-cloud demonstrations around orchestration and automation plus the Cloud Security Notification Framework or CSNF to provide a guiding light for IT consumers to show them how they can do multi-cloud. The goal was to offer the community a set of proofpoints and concepts that they can use to build their multi-cloud infrastructure for their corporations. So many don’t know where or how to start. We use the tagline: “You Know It Works Because You Saw It At ONUG.”

At ONUG Fall, hosted by Raytheon Technologies, we expand the live demonstrations on the show floor to include network cloud plus bigger CSNF plus Orchestration and Automation demonstrations. We invite all IT suppliers and CSPs to showcase how to do multi-cloud at ONUG. The enterprise market is looking for solutions, because the business outcome derived from multi-cloud is worth it!  

Companies can get involved in the ONUG Collaborative here or send email to paul@onug.net or tim@onug.net to find out more.

Author's Bio

Nick Lippis

ONUG