Industry Outlook is a regular Data Center Journal Q&A series that presents expert views on market trends, technologies and other issues relevant to data centers and IT.
This week, Industry Outlook asks Bill Fenick, Vice President of Enterprise for Interxion, about multicloud strategies and why companies should consider them. Bill has over 25 years of financial-services and enterprise experience in a variety of strategy, sales and marketing roles at Tibco and Thomson Reuters. Before joining Interxion in 2013, he drove business development for Elektron Managed Services at Thomson Reuters, where he applied his experience in developing and marketing services for data-distribution technology, managed services, colocation and hosting in the global marketplace. Before starting in the financial-services industry, Bill was a lecturer at the University of Vienna and held a postdoctoral post at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Bill holds a PhD from University of Vienna, an MA from Webster University in Vienna and a BA from UCLA.
Industry Outlook: What’s driving the enterprise multicloud trend?
Bill Fenick: One major driving trend for multicloud is the growing fear of vendor lock-in when it comes to cloud migration. It can be very costly for enterprises to move out of an arrangement they’re locked into a single cloud provider, particularly when they’re already using that provider’s APIs or other proprietary services. So as organizations are determining where to run their workloads, they’re hesitant to put all their eggs in one basket. They want to avoid a single vendor having so much leverage over them and need more flexibility to negotiate with cloud providers. As a result, they’re increasingly turning to a multicloud strategy.
Another driving trend is digital transformation. As enterprises work to keep up in an increasingly digital world, they’re undergoing digital transformations and moving to the cloud to scale and perform with greater agility than their competitors. As part of it, early cloud adopters are learning more about the technology’s capabilities and are now employing multicloud strategies to meet their broader business goals.
IO: What are the biggest challenges enterprises face as they move to a multicloud strategy?
BF: The greatest challenge that enterprises face as they use multiple clouds is trying to understand the different specialties of each cloud provider. For example, is Google really better at AI than IBM? They must know before they can determine which clouds best fit each workload then employ multiple clouds as part of their infrastructure strategy.
But the challenges don’t stop there. Once businesses have determined which clouds are best for their workloads, they must avoid a siloed multicloud approach. Early “adopters” that first saw the benefits of using multiple clouds were housing one workload on one cloud platform and another workload on a different one—but these platforms were entirely unconnected. As such, companies should pursue a connected strategy and avoid making siloed plans.
IO: What are the benefits of a multicloud strategy? What do you see as the biggest business advantages?
BF: Diversifying clouds to avoid vendor lock-in is beneficial for businesses. As I discussed previously, by avoiding putting all their eggs in one basket, they gain greater flexibility with their cloud-hosted workloads and gain a cost advantage through pricing leverage with cloud providers.
Another great advantage of multicloud is having the flexibility to move workloads and applications across cloud platforms to ensure optimum performance—and, furthermore, to procure different benefits from different clouds. By using multiple clouds, it’s both easier and more cost effective to move workloads around to meet business requirements. Not only does this approach enable greater risk management by diversifying workloads and reducing exposure to an outage or data breach, but it also preserves pricing leverage by keeping options open.
Businesses with a cloud strategy that ties together multiple cloud deployments, thereby enabling this seamless movement and flexibility, will reap these benefits, helping them meet their business needs.
IO: What’s the role of colocation in a multicloud world?
BF: Time to market in business can be the difference between thriving and barely surviving. But to reduce time to market, developing and deploying apps using a multicloud strategy must be as simple as possible. Carrier- and cloud-neutral colocation can empower and simplify a multicloud strategy by giving business a better choice for connecting to the cloud. With colocation data centers that offer direct interconnections to multiple cloud-service providers in the same facility, businesses gain the benefit of low-latency connections. The result is better service for customers, even as they grow.
Additionally, using one physical connection in a colocation data center, enterprises can reach all of the colocation partner’s cloud providers through VLAN connections that are automatically provisioned at the time of the order. Not only does this approach save time, but it also means businesses avoid the hassle of managing individual connections to all of their various cloud providers. It’s the simple solution for connecting to the cloud and provides the added benefits of security and high availability backed by SLAs.
IO: What’s the number-one tip you have for organizations planning to make the switch to multicloud?
BF: The biggest tip I can give organizations planning to make the switch to multicloud is to just get on with it. They should stop waiting for perfection and instead take a deep breath and jump in. As a result, they’ll find they can learn much more about what works and what doesn’t by doing rather than by trying to perfect a plan.
The second tip I’d offer is for organizations to clearly identify their business requirements. They can then learn as they make the transition to multiple cloud platforms, and they can make tweaks to enhance their strategy along the way.
Businesses that are still thinking about switching to multicloud are already a step behind and are missing out each day on its vast benefits. From increased agility and scalability to improved performance, those that take the plunge into a multicloud approach won’t regret it.