When people think about digital transformation, they often think public cloud. However, the public cloud isn’t suited to every application, or every project. There is massive appeal to the cloud experience – not having to pay anything up front, only paying for what you use, and having a monthly bill that is metered up and down. It has also become impactful in this new working age of remote, hybrid, and onsite workers, where data needs to be accessible everywhere and at any time while still providing security. So, if not everything can be moved to the public cloud, how can we bring a cloud-like experience to data and applications, no matter where they are housed?
Perhaps we should stop thinking about cloud as a destination, and start thinking about cloud as an experience (or operating model) – one where you can scale your technology requirements up and down on demand, and only pay for what you use. I posit that the multi-cloud experience is the next iteration of digital transformation – one where data can be stored in a combination of places: public and/or private, and on premises, in colocation centres, at the edge and in the cloud – while accessible through a single platform.
A decade after the public cloud emerged, more than 70 per cent of applications remain outside the public cloud due to challenges related to compliance, data privacy, latency, and app entanglement. For these workloads, the multi-cloud model will be a worthy solution, especially in an age where working anywhere at any time has become table stakes.
In the past, clients had to balance running their main business, plus managing a datacentre, and managing the real estate to house that datacentre. They had to predict their needs several years in advance of use, and pivoting for any changes was a major challenge. In the months ramping up a project, they would have costly servers sitting dormant. The RFP process could be daunting in this regard; determining needs for a project that hadn’t yet started and finding ways to maximize datacentres while launching new ideas and projects.
With a decade of buzz surrounding cloud models, the technology of the past will ultimately not be replaced by public cloud on its own, but by the multi-cloud model, which will reign for the next decade at minimum. This new archetype of a mixed approach to data processing and storage that has some on premises technology for items under regulatory or latency pressures, some at the edge – for example in factories, branch offices, or on distant oil rigs – and some in the public cloud will prove to be the most competitive, effective, and flexible solution that organizations will adopt for their needs.
Applying the multi-cloud model
The multi-cloud model helps prepare clients for what they know they have coming and the unknowns that the future can bring. The benefits of a multi-cloud model are many, and they include:
- Simplicity – With the right mix in place, your vendor will handle most of the routine work of managing capacity, configuration and version upgrades, while addressing issues before they arise. That frees up your internal IT staff to focus on projects that can grow the business, rather than scrambling to maintain it.
- Affordability – The multi-cloud model is a consumption-based, as-a-service model, for everything. That protects you from over-investing in costly infrastructure that may be outdated before it’s fully capitalized. As-a-service means you pay for what you use and save your capital budget for investments that are more aligned with business growth priorities. It means half the size of the footprint and half the cost. With this model, organizations can make the right financial and technical choice based on the needs of the applications. Similarly, colocation datacentres save the business from the overhead of managing on premises data centres and the associated real estate, power and cooling.
- Agility – Before the multi-cloud model, on-premises or colocation centres were required to house ERP, CRM and other “systems of record” that run the enterprise for regulatory compliance and other reasons. But now, there is an opportunity to have a single access point and one pristine cloud-like experience – at the edge, in colocations and in the datacentre. The ability to scale-up-and-down as needed offers all users valuable data insights that are essential to digital transformation activity.
- Security – Often, organizations are forced to keep certain data applications on-premises to eliminate compliance risk, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance and government. In a multi-cloud model, they can keep these critical applications in-house, but still deliver a more optimal, cloud-like experience.
- Sustainability – With as-a-service, you can not only focus your usage, but also you don’t have to power and cool more storage than you need – when you only pay for what you use, it also means you only use what you need. Co-location and managed datacentres are also highly efficient, purpose-built, energy efficient facilities, with goals to be climate neutral by 2030.
In Canada, we have a unique opportunity to not only bring this multi-cloud approach to our client’s applications and data, but to help them monetize their data in new and unique ways. By establishing their digital core in highly available real estate with global software defined interconnection capabilities, networks can be rearchitected on-demand – optimizing data transmission from remote sites to cloud apps in minutes, not months. So, not only are clients experiencing a hyper scalable and metered costing system that provides them full control of their operating expenses, they’re also seeing value from data sharing at the edge.