Research from F5 Networks revealed earlier this year that the EMEA region leads the way for multi-cloud adoption, although security and skill gap challenges remain.
According to the sixth annual State of Application Services (SOAS) report, 88% of surveyed EMEA organisations were leveraging multi-cloud environments, compared to 87% in the Americas and 86% in the APCJ region.
A total of 27% of EMEA respondents also claimed they will have more than half of their applications in the cloud by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, 54% agreed that cloud in all its forms is the top strategic trend for the next two to five years
The SOAS report goes on to note that EMEA organisations were more likely than any other region to choose cloud platforms that support applications on a case-by-case basis, with 43% opting for the increasingly popular approach (compared to 42% worldwide). This chimes with the fact that 70% stated that it is ‘very important’ to be able to deploy and enforce the same security policies on-premises and in the cloud. In the Americas, 69% of respondents concurred, with APCJ slightly behind on 65%.
We asked experts in the field why they think multi-cloud adoption is becoming so successful across the region:
Damon Crawford, Cloud Platform Practice Director, Six Degrees: “Multi-cloud is cloud computing’s present and future. Today’s EMEA organisations are using multiple cloud providers throughout their infrastructure estates, with a recent survey by Gartner finding that 81% of respondents worked with two or more providers. The reasons? There are plenty, but what it all comes down to is agility.
“At Six Degrees, we see two classes of multi-cloud adopter: SMEs, who tend to use one or two cloud providers, and larger enterprises, who will often use three, four or more. The distinction really comes down to scale – of operations, application estate, geographic spread – as the benefits of multi-cloud are achievable by almost any size of organisation.
“When we talk to organisations that are considering their multi-cloud strategy, they often highlight to us how multi-cloud meets their sourcing requirements: spreading commercial risk by reducing vendor lock-in, achieving appropriate data sovereignty, meeting regulatory requirements and so on. Sometimes cloud providers are introduced through application necessity – if your organisation wants to deploy PeopleSoft, for example, it makes sense to host on Oracle Cloud.
“These drivers are all compelling. With public cloud security continually improving and deployment and management toolkits becoming more sophisticated and effective, the barriers to entry are lower than ever before. However, we believe the true value of multi-cloud lies in aligning its inherent agility to organisational drivers.
“Containerisation and contemporary DevOps methods make application development faster and more secure, enabling organisations to deliver real world benefits to their people and end-users faster than ever before. These methods use multi-cloud infrastructures to deliver agile, cloud-agnostic hosting platforms that are secure, interconnected and dynamically scalable. Different elements of individual applications can be hosted on separate cloud platforms, each chosen for their specific capabilities.
“Ultimately the success of multi-cloud is a product of organisations’ desire to host each workload on the most appropriate platform – putting round pegs in round holes. But a balanced view of multi-cloud should acknowledge the risks it can pose.
“Multi-cloud management is complex and cyberthreats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The majority of data breaches result from end-user error, and introducing multiple clouds to your infrastructure estate increases the threat vectors through which cybercriminals can target your organisation. An organisation’s multi-cloud journey has the potential to bring significant benefits, but should always be taken in a manner that maintains compliance, manages governance and protects brand value from cyberthreats.”
John O’Keeffe, VP EMEA, Looker: “Organisations are increasingly using cloud strategies to boost evolving Digital Transformation efforts and achieve greater agility.
“While public cloud engagement has no doubt influenced this spike in adoption, businesses are increasingly looking for solutions that are capable of going beyond standard deployments, seeking those that also support IaaS, SaaS and private infrastructures. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that enterprises are opting for a more tailor-made approach to meeting their cloud infrastructure needs, outside of current individual offerings.
“No longer required to pick just one of the vast amount of vendors and technologies available, organisations across EMEA are choosing to operate in a multi-cloud environment. This has resulted in a new era in which organisations are opting to take a modern approach to the way in which their various cloud offerings integrate with other tools and platforms across the business.
“Until recently, the relationship between business intelligence systems and cloud providers has been straightforward. BI tools have traditionally been created with a single-vendor architecture in mind, allowing for seamless integration with any one cloud model.
“However, since the multi-cloud market has matured and become the new norm, things have changed. Companies are now taking advantage of the many different possibilities available to them and as a result, shifting the way they use business intelligence tools. They are quickly embracing the many benefits of a build your own bespoke offering, making it unique to their business and data requirements.
“As part of the changing nature of multi-cloud – in which personalisation is everything – it’s critical that businesses are also entitled to flexibility when it comes to their data platforms. This freedom allows organisations to review approaches and change them as and when they need to, based on a variety of different infrastructures, applications and needs.
“While some BI features may appear similar on the surface, regardless of which vendor supplies them, access to capabilities can sometimes be limited, depending on a few different factors. Through a multi-cloud business intelligence approach, companies can avoid vendor lock-in, instead leveraging strengths from a whole catalogue of tools.
“Over the next few years, as emerging technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to change the nature of business functions and operations, the adoption of multiple cloud vendors will no doubt grow even greater. As the importance of multi-cloud for the future of business intelligence continues to accelerate, now is the time for organisations to work out what is important to them and go on to define their approach to data.”
Andrew Brinded, Vice President and Sales Chief Operating Officer at Nutanix: “Multi-cloud deployment is becoming a hugely popular IT strategy all around the world for reasons to do with flexibility, risk management and maturity. In its best form, it offers a smorgasbord of cloud computing assets from applications to infrastructure in a unified architecture with excellent manageability from one console.
“You need to think back to understand why multi-cloud is so attractive. Ten or 15 years ago, you might have heard people profess ‘there’s no way I’m risking security by putting my data in the cloud’. Later, they got religion and you heard people say: ‘from now on, everything is going in the public cloud’. What we see now is an adjustment to a more centrist position: people want certain IT platforms to match certain use cases.
“That means if you have very important intellectual property or highly sensitive data, you might well want to keep that behind your firewall in a private cloud with very strict policies and protections. For processes that don’t differentiate you from your competitors, the public cloud works very well.
“So, what we see today is, in short, everything. Most companies still have some on-premises IT, most have some sort of public cloud investment and most have an element of private cloud. They will use SaaS, IaaS and PaaS where they make sense and they are increasingly seeking ways to make all of the underlying services more easily manageable and secure.
“Again, if you study the history of IT this should come as no surprise. Trends and technologies emerge, but that’s rarely the signal to get rid of everything that you have. Thirty years ago, pundits were saying the mainframe is a dinosaur that would disappear because of client/server architecture, but the mainframe is still here.
“So, what we see is a hybrid approach where multiple cloud platforms are deployed but companies also maintain some IT on premises and often in the facilities of colocation providers and outsourcers. It’s therefore incumbent on companies like Nutanix to support all those models.
“Having a variegated approach where different categories of IT service run on different platforms makes tactical sense. It also means that CIOs avoid locking themselves in to certain vendors and platforms, giving them maximum bargaining power and adaptability. In short, it provides that most prized of modern business qualities – agility.
“I’m tempted to argue that if the Rolling Stones were to re-record ‘Get off my cloud’ for the current IT generation, they might have to call to something like ‘Get off my cloud, stay on it, choose another cloud or, even better, enjoy a combination of approaches…’”
Stephan Fabel, Director of Product – Canonical: “The use of multiple cloud vendors and providers within an enterprise IT infrastructure, across public and private platforms, has reached a fever pitch in the EMEA region. Made up of one private cloud, which is either operated by the business or managed by a third party, and at least two public clouds, a multi-cloud environment drives many benefits for businesses in terms of cost, innovation and reliability.
“Cost efficiency is one of the biggest draws of a multi-cloud approach, with more and more organisations focusing on balancing the economics of their cloud environments. With multi-cloud, businesses are no longer at the mercy of a vendor’s decision to increase costs and can optimise the return on cloud investments by flexibly spinning multi-cloud resources up or down to meet business requirements.
“There are also massive advantages to taking a vendor-agnostic approach. Different vendors naturally innovate in slightly different areas and speeds, meaning a business leveraging multi-cloud can exploit developments as soon as they become available. With the ability to ‘fail fast’ – rigorously test and incrementally develop new services – multi-cloud empowers businesses to rapidly roll out new services to customers, keep pace with innovation and gain a healthy competitive advantage.
“A multi-cloud strategy also leads to robust and reliable application services. If the principal cloud should fail, another cloud can provide the flexibility for failover. The robustness of this model makes it popular with organisations operating services that cannot withstand downtime, such as financial institutions or telco operators. As well as this, there is a powerful and potent mix of public cloud services on offer, from bare-metal servers to serverless computing, which are continually updated by providers. Businesses can easily switch to more advanced workloads without having to buy, install and operate more of their own infrastructure.
“Possibly the biggest reason for the success of multi-cloud adoption across EMEA is the evolution of open source technologies such as Kubernetes which have enabled organisations to overcome the challenge of complexity. A factor which has previously caused a lot of hesitation around multi-cloud adoption is that deploying cloud platforms and services from multiple vendors is complicated, especially when it comes to pulling them together in a way that doesn’t hinder productivity or innovation. However, Kubernetes aid the orchestration of containers to limit disruption with each new implementation and enables development teams to efficiently move workloads around a multi-cloud environment. The commercial benefits of this approach are also clear, as it avoids businesses being locked into a single vendor and at the mercy of cost increases.”