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This syndicated post originally appeared at WAN speak » Zeus Kerravala.

hand-drawn cloud connected to devices

Many businesses, small- to mid-size ones in particular, strive to consolidate the number of vendors they use. Going to a single network, server, or storage provider creates “one throat to choke”, simplifies purchasing, and makes supporting the environment easier. It’s often normal to give every employee the same computer with the same software image on it that’s preloaded with every application that everyone across the company needs because that’s easier than trying to juggle numerous ones.

However, with the cloud, I think the opposite should be true and multiple cloud providers should be the norm. There are a number of reasons why this should be the case, below are the top ones:

  • Protects against failure. Having your cloud provider fail or go out of business can be much more catastrophic than having a hardware manufacturer go through the same fate. If your favorite server manufacturer gets acquired, goes into bankruptcy, or faces some sort of problem, you still have the servers to run on. If that happens to a cloud provider businesses will want to move the data quickly. Having multiple cloud providers in place can streamline the process, as all of the contractual issues will already have been worked out.
  • Faster time to market of new services. In the cloud industry, feature leadership will ebb and flow over time. It’s impossible for any cloud provider to maintain market leadership at all points in time. Businesses can ensure they always have the latest features by having multiple providers and leveraging new features across multiple providers.
  • Geographic diversity. This has two benefits. The first is being able to meet data sovereignty requirements. Many industries are subject to strict regulations as to where data can be stored. Using cloud providers in different countries lets businesses store data in the country of their choosing. The other benefit is that organizations can mirror deployments across multiple geographies to move the data closer to the user and improve performance.
  • Faster analytics. One way of performing analytics is to move the data to the cloud. The other method is to move the cloud to the data. This shortens the time taken to gather the data, analyze it and make decisions.
  • Creates purchasing leverage. While the concept behind a single provider for anything seems logical, one of the drawbacks is that the customer becomes locked into that one vendor. Having multiple cloud providers keeps all of them on their toes as services can be moved rapidly. This can lead to better customer service, a more attentive account manager, and better pricing.

A multi-cloud deployment model should be only semi-permanent as the cloud industry is a fluid one with everything changing all the time. Clouds make IT elastic so use this elasticity to benefit your organization. We live in a cloud-centric world, just make sure your organization leverages multiple cloud providers.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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