10 Best Multi-cloud Strategy Examples

Cloud computing has already transformed the way many businesses use their digital assets. The ability to flexibly access immense computing, data storage, and assets when needed makes organizations more flexible, Agile, and capable. But there’s no getting around the reality that these strategies are complex and can be difficult to implement. So if you’re looking […]

by Dilyan Dimitrov

May 14, 2024

10 min read

10 Best Multi-cloud Strategy Examples in 2024

Cloud computing has already transformed the way many businesses use their digital assets. The ability to flexibly access immense computing, data storage, and assets when needed makes organizations more flexible, Agile, and capable.

But there’s no getting around the reality that these strategies are complex and can be difficult to implement. So if you’re looking at integrating cloud-based tools into your organization, should you consider multi-cloud strategies? Below we break down everything you need to know about multi-cloud strategies, their advantages and disadvantages, and how you can best leverage them in your organization.

What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy?

While cloud computing involves using on-demand computing or storage services through the internet, multi-cloud expands on this. Instead of obtaining these services from a single provider, a multi-cloud strategy works with two or more. Yet that simplicity hides plenty of complexity beneath the surface.

But why exactly would you want to implement this kind of strategy? Often the reason is to take advantage of the unique capabilities of different cloud providers. Another common reason is to build in redundancies for critical systems. We’ll explore both in detail below.

Multi-cloud definition

Multi-cloud describes an organization using multiple public cloud computing services at the same time. This is different from hybrid cloud strategies explained in detail below.

Multi-cloud Example

Let’s say you’re a global logistics company that uses cloud computing to store and analyze the vast amounts of data you generate. This data is then used to help make decisions about shipments on a global scale. Considering how vital such a system is to your operations, the cost of even an hour of downtime can easily run into the millions.

To tackle this challenge you employ a multi-cloud strategy for redundancy. If your primary cloud services provider experiences an outage or other problem, your system is designed to instantly default to the backup provider.

As a result, you’re able to avoid that costly outage and continue to provide vital cloud services to your organization.

But in addition to that, you’re able to optimize both your storage and computing needs across those multiple providers. For example, recently generated data that needs to be accessible immediately may be placed in faster storage. After some time has passed, you may move that data into slower and less expensive types of storage.

Likewise, you may break down your cloud computing needs to ensure you’re only paying for the features and capabilities you need. So in addition to creating redundancies, this multi-cloud strategy enables the company in the example to lower their overall costs.

Multi-cloud Architecture

The “architecture” in multi-cloud architecture refers to the structure of the system integrating the services of multiple cloud providers. For example, they may be running parallel to provide different types of cloud services or reserve one as a backup. The architecture is what will determine when each is used to drive the most value based on your needs.

Determining the ideal architecture for a multi-cloud strategy is also one of the toughest initial challenges. 

Is a multi-cloud strategy similar to hybrid cloud?

While it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear both “multi-cloud” and “hybrid cloud” used interchangeably, they refer to two different types of cloud infrastructure. A multi-cloud strategy refers specifically to one employing multiple public cloud services. By contrast, a hybrid cloud strategy uses a mixture of public and private cloud services.

The private cloud element of hybrid cloud strategies usually involves hosting on your own or third-party data centers. So multi-cloud strategies are focused on the benefits of blending multiple provider services. Hybrid strategies are focused on combining the benefits of public and private ones. So you can combine both, using multiple public and private cloud services at the same time if that helps address your needs.

What are the key elements of hybrid Multi-cloud strategy?

With many organizations employing complex hybrid multi-cloud architecture, the strategy behind those setups has never been more important. But what elements make such strategies successful?

Considering Compatibility

While most applications will work just fine on the cloud, not all will work with hybrid multi-cloud architecture. In some cases, even if this is possible, the migration or other costs might outweigh the benefits. This is particularly true with older legacy applications developed before hybrid multi-cloud strategies became more common.

The result can be inconsistent results with some segments of an application working normally while others are stuck behind load balancers.

This is why it’s crucial to talk with the vendors associated with your applications to understand their compatibility. They can help you understand technical issues or even licensing limitations which may prevent using this kind of strategy.

Ensure Network Infrastructure Is Capable

Hybrid multi-cloud strategies can put a lot of strain on your infrastructure. Data has to move between more providers, meaning any latency issues can be magnified. The result can be poor performance and user experiences that negate many of the benefits you wanted from this strategy to begin with.

So before you implement such a solution, work with your internal team to determine whether your infrastructure is ready. This may involve testing to identify areas where upgrades are needed.

Look At Your Storage Setup

Ironically, one of the benefits of a hybrid multi-cloud strategy is the ability to take advantage of things like different storage capabilities across multiple providers. Yet too many fail to take advantage and end up paying the price.

Getting storage right is essential for the success of any hybrid multi-cloud strategy. Because the architecture of these strategies is more complex than their more straightforward counterparts, storage can be neglected. As a result, storage requirements and costs can rise considerably.

To avoid this outcome, it’s important to consider storage needs from the start. Ensure the architecture you employ for your hybrid multi-cloud strategy optimizes for storage use. For example, you might use a variety of tiers based on the speed requirements for specific applications.

Put Your Application Components Where They Work Best

Aside from thinking of your applications as whole units, being strategic about where you use individual components offers major advantages. Some components might require faster speeds while others can be placed into slower, lower-cost tiers. You should work with your vendors to identify the needs of each component and match them to a specific cloud service.

Without making these optimizations on a component level, you won’t be able to take full advantage of your hybrid multi-cloud strategy. 

Adjust as You Go

Considering the complexity of hybrid multi-cloud strategies, you can’t reasonably expert to find the perfect setup at the start. It’s important to regularly evaluate your usage and the performance of your applications to find areas for improvement. Neglecting this is precisely how you end up with hidden costs that gradually increase until they are finally noticed.

So avoid thinking about your cloud strategy as something you create and then you’re finished. Instead, it needs to be an evolving, ongoing process of honing and optimization.

Why Organizations Choose A Multi-cloud Strategy

Considering all the elements organizations need to consider when executing a multi-cloud strategy well, what benefits offset those costs?

The business advantages of a multi-cloud strategy

Multi-cloud Storage

Cloud storage is an amazing tool. It enables organizations to pay for only the storage they need, especially if those needs are highly volatile. Investing in the physical servers necessary to have such storage internally, on the other hand, can be prohibitively expensive. Multi-cloud storage builds on the advantages offered by cloud storage to offer further optimizations.

For example, you might have some application components use the fastest storage options to optimize for performance. Meanwhile, other components might be fine using slower, less expensive storage. Having more variety in your storage options by working with multiple providers means you can fine tune your architecture to best fit your business needs and minimize cost.

Multi-cloud Management

There are two main components to multi-cloud management. The first is the process of ensuring your various applications are capable of moving between cloud services without causing issues. The second is the actual management of those services, including data tracking and monitoring.

In an ideal world, your IT professionals will be able to set up a single interface capable of managing your entire multi-cloud setup. So the challenges of multi-cloud management are extensive because the process is complex and can be technically tricky. In other cases, you may use custom cloud application development and management services to streamline setup and management.

But the benefits for businesses are great. Here, all of your applications can move seamlessly between cloud services and you’re able to monitor and control everything from a single interface. This enables IT to easily optimize your entire system for both performance and cost.

Multi-cloud Security

As we’ll discuss below, multi-cloud environments create greater risks due to their complexity. Each additional step and provider introduces more opportunities for security failures. However, there are ways to mitigate these risks and still create a highly secure environment.

Getting there requires looking closely at the various native security features offered by your cloud providers. By leveraging them while also integrating third-party security features, you can create layers of protection against outages and malicious actors alike.

Advantages of multi-cloud strategy

Aside from the three elements listed above, you can really boil down the advantages of a multi-cloud strategy to three things. The first is flexibility, as you simply have more options to craft an ideal cloud solution for your needs. The second is performance. That flexibility enables you to fine-tune how you use cloud services to find the ideal balance of performance and cost.

Finally, there’s the lowered risk of outages. Used well, a multi-cloud strategy can ensure that even if a catastrophic outage occurs in one service, you can continue work without interruption. For a business’ most important cloud-based services, that added security is a game changer.

Disadvantages of multi-cloud strategy

It should be clear by now that even the advantages of a multi-cloud strategy are deeply intertwined with its disadvantages. But to really understand and alleviate the potential drawbacks, you have to take a closer look at those disadvantages.

It’s Complicated

While it’s true that the complexity of multi-cloud strategies is what enables their flexibility, it also has real drawbacks. For example, while a fairly low-level IT professional can likely manage a basic cloud setup without much trouble, that’s not the case here.

Managing a complex multi-cloud setup will likely require a team of highly-skilled IT professionals. So while you can better optimize cost with a multi-cloud setup, you also need to consider the additional labor costs connected to managing it as well.

It’s also worth pointing out that even for experienced IT teams, these systems are tricky to manage well. So while you may be able to find some impactful optimizations, keeping them requires ongoing attention and work. Without this, costs can rise, issues can proliferate, and performance can drop.

Lastly, this complication also applies to managing access. Relying on users to navigate different access rules across the cloud services can easily cause major issues. This is why it can be a good idea to opt for a identity and access management solution specifically tailored to multi-cloud strategies.

Security Becomes a Greater Challenge

As discussed above, the complexity of multi-cloud strategies creates new security challenges. Once again, this means you will need more professionals dedicating more time to tackling such problems.

How to decide between a single-cloud or multi-cloud strategy

With so many advantages and disadvantages to consider, how should you approach making this decision?

As with any similar choice, the first step should be to get a deep understanding of your current and future needs. Look at historical data and future projects to understand all the ways you use cloud services and what the associated costs are. Talk to your IT department to get their input and try to understand how your usage needs might change in the future.

Armed with this information, you can begin looking at multi-cloud options. The challenge here is that you’re not simply comparing one option to others but searching for the right combination of options. So you may want to consider creating a short list of options and then comparing all the various combinations individually.

At this stage it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Consider the benefits you reasonably think you can access in terms of storage, security, cost-reduction, computing power, etc. Then look at the associated costs, including labor, setup costs, and any additional management tools you might require.

Lastly, look at those projections and consider how well single-cloud and multi-cloud strategies might be able to adapt to your future needs. Based on these factors, you should be able to determine the optimal solution for your unique business needs.

Multi-Cloud Strategies and Digital Transformation

One of the most powerful trends in business today is the speed at which change is occurring. To keep up with these changes, more and more businesses are employing a digital transformation strategy

Instead of viewing change as something that occurs once and is finished, digital transformation sees change as ongoing and integral to how the organization functions. By leveraging technology, teams are able to harness data and adapt to change like never before.

Multi-cloud strategies are a great example of this. These strategies enable digital transformation by enabling more effective use of data and improving the organization’s flexibility. So if you’re looking at integrating digital transformation into your organization’s long-term vision, it’s worth thinking about how multi-cloud strategies can fit into that vision.

The future isn’t just cloud—it’s multi-cloud

At the end of the day, the complex nature of multi-cloud strategies can be intimidating. However, it’s worth considering just how much flexibility and adaptability are crucial for success in today’s business environment. Going for a simpler single-cloud strategy may not give you the competitive advantage you need. 

Looking to the future, however, multi-cloud strategies are likely to become more popular. As the tools and processes needed to manage these strategies become more accessible and capable, more organizations will turn to multi-cloud strategies.

With that future in mind, it’s worth thinking about the advantage of being ahead of the curve. By developing the internal skills and processes needed to effectively manage a multi-cloud strategy today, you’re building a competitive advantage for the future. So as you think about your ideal cloud strategy, be sure to think not just about today, but about the years to come.

A reader who loves writing, a marketer who loves tech, a nerd who loves sports. Dilyan, our resident writer, half-jokes that his days are filled with everything you can think of - except free time. He joined our team several years into his copywriting career - and he seems to feel at home here. Because, as he puts it, “there’s always cake at the office”.  If he doesn’t have his nose buried in a book, you can typically find Dilyan writing his latest piece, tinkering with his PC, or off swimming/cycling somewhere.