Now more than ever, organizations have been implementing multi-cloud environments for their public cloud infrastructure.

We not only see this in our customers’ environments: a growing proportion use multiple cloud providers. Additionally, industry experts and analysts report the same. In early June, IDG released its 8th Cloud Computing Survey results where they broke down IT environments, multi-cloud and IT budgets by the numbers. This report also goes into both the upsides and downsides using multiple public clouds. Here’s what they found:

  • More than half (55%) of respondents use multiple public clouds:
    • 34% use two, 10% use three, and 11% use more than three
  • 49% of respondents say they adopted a multi-cloud approach to get best-of-breed platform and service options.
  • Other goals include:
    • Cost savings/optimization (41%)
    • Improved disaster recovery/business continuity (40%)
    • Increased platform and service flexibility (39%).

Interestingly, within multi-cloud customers of ParkMyCloud, the majority are users of AWS and Google Cloud, or AWS and Azure; very few are users of Azure and Google Cloud. About 1% of customers have a presence in all three.

Multi-Cloud Across Organizations

The study found that the likelihood of an organization using a multi-cloud environment depends on its size and industry. For instance, government, financial services and manufacturing organizations are less likely to stick to one cloud due to possible security concerns that come with using multiple clouds. IDG concluded that enterprises are more concerned with avoiding vendor lock-in while SMBs are more likely to make cost savings/optimization a priority (makes sense, the smaller the company, the more worried they are about finances).

  • Fewer than half of SMBs (47%) use multiple public clouds
  • Meanwhile, 66% of enterprises use multiple clouds

What are the advantages of multi-cloud?

Since multi-cloud has been a growing trend over the last few years, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look at why businesses are heading this direction with their infrastructure. More often than not, public cloud users and enterprises have adopted multi-cloud to meet their cloud computing needs. The following are a few advantages and typically the most common reasons users adopt multi-cloud.

  • Risk Mitigation – create resilient architectures
  • Managing vendor lock-in – get price protection
  • Workload Optimization – place your workloads to optimize for cost and performance
  • Cloud providers’ unique capabilities – take advantage of offerings in AI, IOT, Machine Learning, and more

While taking advantage of features and capabilities from different cloud providers can be a great way to get the most out of the benefits that cloud services can offer, if not used optimally, these strategies can also result in wasted time, money, and computing capacity. The reality is that these are sometimes only perceived advantages that never come to fruition.

What are the negatives?

As companies implement their multi-cloud environments, they are finding downsides. A staggering 94% of respondents – regardless of the number of clouds they use or size of their organization – find it hard to fully take advantage of their public cloud resources. The survey cited the biggest challenge is controlling cloud costs – users think they’ll be saving money but end up spending more. When organizations migrate to multi-cloud they think they will be cutting costs, but what they typically fail to account for is the growing cloud services and data as well as lack of visibility. For many organizations we talk to, multiple clouds are being used because different groups within the organization use different cloud providers, which makes for challenges in centralized control and management. Controlling these issues brings about another issue of increased costs due to the need of cloud management tools.

Some other challenges companies using multiple public clouds run into are:

  • Data privacy and security issues (38%)
  • Securing and protecting cloud resources (31%)
  • Governance/ compliance concerns (30%)
  • Lack of security skills/expertise (30%)

Configuring and managing different CSPs requires deep expertise which makes it more of a pressing need to find employees that have the experience and capabilities to manage multiple clouds. This means that more staff are needed to manage multi-cloud environments confidentiality so it can be done in a way that is secure and highly available. The lack of skills and expertise for managing multiple clouds can become a major issue for organizations as their cloud environments won’t be managed efficiently. In order to try fix this issue, organizations are allocating a decent amount of their IT budget to cloud-specific roles with the hope that adding more specialization in this area can help improve efficiency.

Multi-Cloud Statistics: Use is Still Growing

The statistics on cloud computing show that companies not only use multiple clouds today, but they have plans to expand multi-cloud investments:

  • In a survey of nearly 551 IT people who are involved in the purchasing process for cloud computing, 55% of organizations currently use multiple public clouds.
  • Organizations using multiple cloud platforms say they will allocate more (35%) of their IT budget to cloud computing.
  • SMBs plan to include slightly more for cloud computing in their budgets (33%) compared to enterprises
    • While this seems significant, if measured in dollars, enterprises plan a much larger cloud spend than SMBs do $158 million compared to $11.5 million.

The Future of Managing Cloud Costs for Multi-Cloud

As cloud costs remain a primary concern, especially for SMBs, it’s important organizations keep up with the latest cloud usage trends to manage spend and prevent waste. To keep costs in check for a multi-cloud, you can make things easier for your IT department and implement an optimization tool that can track usage and spend across different cloud providers.

For more insight on the rise of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud strategies, and to demonstrate the impact on cloud spend, check out the drain of wasted spend on IT budgets.