Recently, choosing the best multicloud platform for your B2B business has become vital for ensuring all cloud operations run smoothly. During the pandemic, businesses rapidly turned to cloud services at a much greater rate than before to keep their applications and systems up and running at a point when on-premise infrastructures were not the most convenient solution.

As various vital services spread out across various cloud providers, a new approach and strategy to manage cloud environments has emerged. It involves the use of a multicloud platforms to rely on various vendors to reduce costs, guarantee continuity, and optimize performance.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about B2B multicloud platforms, what are their benefits to businesses, and how you can implement this strategy now.

What Is a B2B Multicloud Platform?

multi-cloud diagram
Diagram Courtesy of Spiceworks

A B2B multicloud platform enables businesses to strategically utilize a variety of cloud computing services from different providers to support their business-to-business (B2B) operations and activities. Compared to single-cloud approaches, multicloud platforms leverage the benefits of multiple cloud providers, giving enterprises access to a greater range of services, capabilities, and flexibility.

Multicloud platforms integrate different cloud solutions — including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) — into a single unified environment.

This provides businesses with centralized visibility and control to manage all their cloud resources efficiently, regardless of which provider they originate from. With a multicloud platform, businesses can deploy resources and applications across multiple public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises environments.

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The key advantage of a great B2B multicloud platform is its ability to mitigate vendor lock-in risks. Relying on a single cloud vendor can create over-dependence and make it difficult to switch providers easily. With a multicloud approach, businesses remain agile and can choose the optimal cloud solutions for each of their workloads.

Leading technology vendors offer B2B multicloud management platforms, including IBM, VMware, Rackspace, Dell Technologies, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. The robust capabilities of these platforms are helping global businesses adopt multicloud strategies confidently.

A Large Percentage of Enterprises Rely on a B2B Multicloud Platform

According to Flexera’s 2023 State of the Cloud report, over 80% of enterprises now employ a multicloud strategy. The top drivers for multicloud adoption include optimizing performance, disaster recovery, and leveraging best-in-class cloud services.

With a B2B multicloud platform, businesses can tap into the cloud’s agility and extensive functionality while maintaining control over their critical enterprise systems and data. Multicloud architectures provide the versatility to run each application and workload in the optimal cloud environment.

This enables businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and deliver differentiated customer experiences through new cloud-based capabilities. As multicloud adoption grows, B2B organizations are gaining strategic advantages by leveraging these agile platforms to successfully compete in the digital economy.

One prominent real-world example of multicloud environments is Netflix (NFLX). The video streaming giant primarily relied on Amazon’s AWS cloud service provider to manage its mammoth-sized data storage and transfer needs but it eventually migrated to a multicloud solution after it added Google Cloud to its roster of cloud providers.

In the case of Netflix, they rely on public cloud services rather than private – either on-premise or hosted – to better manage cloud spend, keep their systems safe, increase reliance, and facilitate migrations.

Public clouds are the most popular choice for organizations according to the Flexera study with more than 96% of its survey’s respondents saying that they use these solutions for their data storage and transfer needs although 72% reportedly embraced a hybrid (private and public) B2B multicloud platform approach instead of solely relying on these public platforms.

Why Are B2B Multicloud Platforms Necessary?

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a forcing event that accelerated the migration of businesses to the cloud. With entire workforces shifting to remote operations almost overnight in early 2020, companies urgently needed scalable and flexible technology infrastructure to maintain business continuity. This prompted many organizations to turn to the cloud and expand their adoption of cloud-based tools and platforms.

According to a survey by LogicMonitor, nearly 90% of IT managers globally agreed that their companies will accelerate their migration to cloud environments in the near future due to the pandemic.

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 emphasized that agility and resilience were crucial for business survival. Cloud platforms enabled the rapid scaling of remote collaboration capabilities, e-commerce channels, online operations, and other digital experiences to meet surging customer demands.

Even as the pandemic subsides, companies are realizing the long-term benefits of cloud-centric strategies. Multicloud environments – utilizing multiple public clouds from vendors like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform – are emerging as the preferred approach for most enterprises today.

This is a summary of some of the most compelling factors driving increased adoption of multicloud platforms:

  • Mitigating Vendor Lock-In Risks: Relying on a single cloud provider leads to over-dependence and makes it difficult for businesses to pivot. Multicloud architectures prevent vendor lock-in by enabling the use of multiple platforms based on application needs. This provides leverage in negotiations and the ability to relocate workloads if required.
  • Optimizing for Performance and Cost: Different cloud platforms have unique strengths and weaknesses. A multicloud environment allows businesses to choose the optimal platform for each application based on performance, latency, throughput, and other technical factors. It also enables cost optimization as workloads can be run on the most economical cloud.
  • Enabling Innovation: Access to a broader range of capabilities from leading cloud vendors fosters innovation. Developers can build on state-of-the-art cloud services like AI, containers, serverless computing, blockchain, and edge computing to create differentiated offerings.
  • Compliance and Data Residency: Data residency and regulatory compliance requirements may dictate the need to locate applications in specific geographies. A multicloud approach provides the flexibility to deploy workloads in suitable locations across different cloud regions.
  • Business Continuity: By spreading applications across multiple cloud data centers, organizations can mitigate disruptions. If one cloud platform experiences downtime, traffic can be routed to alternate platforms to ensure continuity.
  • New Capabilities and Carving Out the Future: Multicloud platforms empower businesses to leverage cutting-edge capabilities from different cloud providers in a seamless manner. For instance, a company could deploy an IoT application on AWS while running its ERP system on Azure and machine learning workloads on the Oracle Cloud.

As cloud platforms mature, they are moving beyond core infrastructure services into value-added capabilities. By adopting a multicloud strategy today, forward-thinking businesses can capitalize on new offerings from top cloud vendors as they build the digital platforms of the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have provided the initial impetus, but the real driver of multicloud adoption is increased business agility. With a multicloud foundation, companies can rapidly develop and launch new digital solutions, services, and experiences to gain competitive advantages. It enables them to become adaptable, data-driven organizations that can deliver high-impact business outcomes.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a B2B Multicloud Platform

B2B multicloud platforms offer several capabilities that enable businesses to maximize the value of multi-cloud environments:

Advantages of Embracing a B2B Multicloud Platform

  • Unified management: Provides centralized visibility and control over all cloud resources spread across different providers and accounts. Businesses can manage their hybrid multicloud environment through a single dashboard.
  • Integration and workload portability: Allows easy movement of applications and data across multiple clouds and on-premise infrastructures. This workload portability prevents vendor lock-in.
  • Identity and access management: Enables centralized control over identity and access across the multicloud environment for security and compliance.
  • Automation and orchestration: Automates provisioning, deployment, monitoring, and resource optimization across multiple clouds from a unified platform.
  • Governance and policy enforcement: Applies consistent security, compliance, and cost governance across the multicloud estate.
  • Analytics and optimization: Provides data-driven insights about multicloud resource utilization, performance, costs, and security to optimize the environment.

Disadvantages of a Multicloud Strategy

There are also some drawbacks to fully relying on a B2B multicloud factor. Here’s a summary of what the main negative aspects are:

  • Increased complexity: Managing multiple cloud platforms and services across different providers results in greater complexity compared to a single cloud environment. It requires robust processes and skilled personnel to handle this complexity efficiently.
  • Skills gap: Multicloud environments often need personnel with skills across diverse cloud platforms. But cloud skills remain scarce, and finding staff comfortable with working with various cloud services at once can be a bit difficult.
  • No single vendor accountability: In a complex multicloud environment, it can be difficult to pinpoint accountability for performance issues or outages. Finger-pointing between vendors is a possibility.
  • Portability challenges: Despite claims of seamless workload portability across clouds, technical, and contractual challenges can emerge while moving applications, data, and services across diverse cloud platforms.
  • Compliance and governance risks: Regulatory compliance can be more complicated with customer data spread across multiple cloud services and geographies. Strong governance is essential to ensure compliance.
  • Security management: Managing security, access controls, and compliance across heterogeneous multicloud environments can be difficult compared to single-cloud structures. It requires security integration and centralized visibility.

Even though the benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages of using a B2B multicloud platform, there are challenges associated with this approach that IT professionals within companies must tackle to make sure that their organizations make the most out of this strategy.

Compared to single-cloud environments, cost management, avoiding vendor lock-in, and business continuity stand out as the most relevant benefits of a B2B multicloud platform.

What to Consider When Choosing Your B2B Multicloud Platform?

Now that we have discussed in detail what a B2B multicloud platform is and how adopting this approach can benefit an organization, it is time to dig deeper into the criteria that could be used to select among the multiple vendors out there.

In this section, we share the five most relevant aspects to consider when choosing a B2B multicloud platform starting with the easiness with which it can be integrated to operate with other cloud environments and its cost management tools.

#1 – Integration and Interoperability

The platform should provide seamless (or near seamless) integration between different cloud environments. This includes capabilities like workload portability, unified identity and access management, and cross-cloud monitoring. The platform’s architecture should support interoperability between diverse cloud services.

#2 – Centralized Control

The platform should offer a centralized control plane and dashboard to manage all cloud resources and services across different providers. This single pane of glass enables consistent visibility, governance, automation, and policy enforcement across heterogeneous cloud environments.

#3 – Security

Robust security capabilities are crucial in a multicloud platform including identity management, access controls, data encryption, vulnerability assessments, compliance monitoring, and advanced threat protection. A unified security model is essential for managing risks in complex multicloud environments.

#4 – Cost Management

With resources and workloads being distributed across multiple clouds, cost visibility, optimization, and governance are key. The platform should provide cost analytics, resource tracking, budgeting tools, and spending controls across different cloud accounts and services to ensure that the main benefit of adopting this approach – cost management – is obtained.

#5 – Platform Support

The multicloud platform should support leading public clouds like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud and also gives the IT professional the possibility of integrating with private cloud infrastructures. Support for containers, serverless platforms, and a range of cloud services is also important for flexibility.

Top B2B Multicloud Platforms That You Should Consider

flexera 2023 state of the cloud report preferred cloud vendors

Based on the 2023 State of the Cloud report from Flexera, the top 5 B2B multicloud platforms are Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and IBM Cloud. Based on these findings, we will be providing a brief overview of what these services are, how they work, what makes them stand out among other competitors, and why they could be a good option for your organization.

Amazon AWS

Launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a comprehensive cloud computing platform developed and operated by Amazon. It offers over 200 cloud services including computing power, database storage, content delivery, and other functionalities to help businesses scale and grow. AWS is considered a pioneer and leader in public cloud infrastructure and adoption.

AWS operates in over 30 geographic regions worldwide, allowing customers to deploy cloud resources closest to their end users. Costs vary based on the exact services utilized but AWS offers a pay-as-you-go model without upfront expenses.

Key benefits of using AWS include:

  • Agility and faster time to market by reducing hardware infrastructure setup time.
  • Flexibility to scale resources up and down based on real-time requirements.
  • Usage-based cost model without large capital investments.
  • Access to the most advanced cloud computing technologies and tools.
  • High availability across regions and availability zones for business continuity.

Potential downsides to consider:

  • Complex pricing structure across over 200 services can make cost monitoring challenging.
  • Relying on the AWS ecosystem’s additional may reduce flexibility to switch vendors and virtually neutralize one of the key benefits of the multicloud approach.
  • AWS doesn’t offer customer support via phone, only business-level email support.

AWS is a clear market leader, offering the most comprehensive and mature cloud computing capabilities compared to competitors. Continued commitment to expanding its global infrastructure and investing in next-gen technologies like artificial intelligence makes AWS the go-to public cloud option for a large number of businesses today. With its early mover advantage and wide adoption, AWS has become synonymous with cloud computing itself for many organizations.

Microsoft Azure

Launched in 2010, Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform operated by Microsoft. It offers a large number of services for computing, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and more to enable businesses to move operations to the cloud.

Key features include Azure Virtual Machines for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), App Service for platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Azure Active Directory for identity management, and tools for hybrid cloud deployments.

Azure operates in nearly 60 regions globally with industry-leading compliance coverage. It uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model without upfront expenses. Azure is trusted by 95% of Fortune 500 companies for its tight integration with Microsoft’s products, robust tooling for .NET developers, and strong enterprise capabilities.

Key benefits of Microsoft Azure:

  • Tight integration with Windows, Office 365, and other Microsoft platforms.
  • Massive global scale and reach.
  • Enterprise-grade security, compliance, and access controls.
  • Support for open source and proprietary technologies.
  • Hybrid capabilities to bridge on-premise and cloud environments.

Potential downsides to consider:

  • Can incentivize vendor lock-in to Microsoft ecosystems.
  • Complex pricing structure across a multitude of services.
  • Mostly beneficial for Microsoft-centric organizations.

Azure stands out with its seamless integration with existing Microsoft (MSFT) technologies already used by enterprises. Its hybrid cloud capabilities, global infrastructure, and focus on enterprise needs give it an edge.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud, launched in 2008, is a suite of cloud computing services operated by Google. It offers services for computing, storage, networking, big data, machine learning, and more. Key capabilities include Compute Engine for IaaS, Cloud Storage for unified object storage, BigQuery for enterprise data warehousing, and Vertex AI for managed machine learning.

Google Cloud operates in more than 30 regions worldwide. It uses per-second billing and sustained-use discounts to enable cost optimization. Google Cloud is best suited for modern applications using containers, serverless, data analytics, and machine learning. Its core strengths come from Google’s engineering expertise around scalable computing.

Key benefits of Google Cloud:

  • Excellent performance and scalability.
  • Usage-based cost model with per-second billing.
  • Deep expertise in containers, data analytics, and ML.
  • Global load balancing and edge network for speed.
  • Open source commitment and integration.

Potential downsides to consider:

  • Still maturing enterprise capabilities versus competitors.
  • Can be more complex for traditional or legacy workloads.
  • Less specialization for specific industries or verticals.
  • Light on customer support and expert guidance.

Google Cloud is considered a leading cloud provider due to its modern development capabilities, usage-based cost model, and engineering-first approach ideal for cloud-native applications.

Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud launched in 2018 as the cloud computing platform operated by Oracle Corporation. It provides IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and data management solutions. Key capabilities include Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Fusion cloud applications, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and security and governance services.

Oracle Cloud operates in over 45 regions worldwide. It uses a subscription model with options for annual, monthly, and universal credit pricing. A key differentiator for Oracle Cloud is its focus on high-performance and enterprise-grade workloads, particularly migrating Oracle on-premises environments to the cloud.

Key benefits of Oracle Cloud:

  • High-performance infrastructure tailored for enterprise apps.
  • Strong capabilities for Oracle ERP, HCM, and CX migrations.
  • Integrated security, governance, and compliance.
  • Bare metal options and VMware support.
  • Global infrastructure and regional data residency.

Potential downsides to consider:

  • Less competitive for brand-new cloud deployments.
  • Steep learning curve for organizations new to Oracle.
  • Limited breadth of services versus hyperscale providers.

Oracle Cloud stands out as an optimized choice for migrating and modernizing Oracle workloads with integrated cloud capabilities purpose-built for enterprise scale.

IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud launched in 2007 as IBM’s cloud computing platform for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. It offers over 170 products and services and its operations are supported by over 40 data centers spread across 27 different zones.

Capabilities include computing, storage, databases, analytics, AI, IoT, blockchain, and quantum computing. IBM Cloud caters to both traditional and cloud-native apps with Kubernetes, serverless, and infrastructure options.

IBM Cloud uses a pay-as-you-go model. It focuses on enterprise hybrid deployments, AI-infused solutions, and emerging technologies leveraging IBM Research. IBM Cloud delivers industry-tailored solutions as a key differentiator.

Key benefits of IBM Cloud:

  • Strong hybrid, security and data privacy capabilities.
  • AI solutions for smart business applications built on IBM Research.
  • Industry-specific solutions for financial services, healthcare, etc.
  • Open architecture and open source innovations.
  • Global reach with data centers around the world.

Potential downsides to consider:

  • Lagging in breadth of services compared to hyperscalers.
  • Complex pricing structure.
  • Less flexibility to switch between deployed architectures.
  • Heavy focus on traditional workloads vs leading edge.

IBM Cloud excels for its deep industry expertise, role in hybrid IT transformations, and AI-infused solutions for enterprise needs.

How to Get Started with a B2B Multicloud Platform?

Adopting a multicloud strategy has become imperative for modern enterprises to accelerate innovation and drive growth. Here are the key steps to embrace multicloud effectively:

Step 1 – Evaluate business requirements

Analyze your workloads, infrastructure, and processes to determine which business capabilities you want to unlock with multicloud. Look at use cases around agility, scalability, data analytics, security, and more. Define both short-term and long-term requirements so your multicloud foundation is future-proof. This evaluation sets the direction for an optimal cloud strategy.

The outcome of this step is a detailed list of business needs that multicloud adoption will enable.

Step 2 – Assess existing environments

Take stock of your current on-premises and cloud environments. Map out servers, data, applications, tools, and processes running across these environments. Also, assess technical skills and cloud expertise within your teams. This landscape analysis identifies transition challenges and opportunity areas to migrate applications to the cloud.

The outcome of this step is an in-depth documentation of your starting point for a successful migration to a B2B multicloud platform.

Step 3 – Select cloud platforms

Research leading cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Shortlist which platforms could be a good fit for your requirements and current environments. Assess factors like service capabilities, developer tools, security, compliance, and global infrastructure. A hybrid multicloud approach utilizing 2 to 4 platforms may be optimal for most enterprises.

The outcome of Step 3 is a final list of preferred cloud platforms to build your multicloud architecture.

Step 4 – Deploy core management platform

A B2B multicloud platform is essential for visibility, automation, governance, and security across multiple clouds. Evaluate all options and deploy a unified management tool. Take advantage of any pre-built integrations with your chosen cloud platforms. This will help you form a centralized control plane.

The outcome of Step 4 is a fully configured management platform installed across cloud environments.

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Step 5 – Migrate gradually

Start small by migrating a couple of suitable applications first. Learn, optimize, and scale. Take learnings into account and gradually transition more workloads to the cloud in phases. Aim for steady progress rather than racing to migrate everything at once. Continuous assessment and improvement will be key.

The outcome of Step 5 is smooth application migration in a phased manner to multicloud environments.

By following these steps, organizations can craft an effective cloud strategy, select the right B2B multicloud platform, and implement robust management and processes to extract the most value from a multicloud model. The journey requires planning, domain expertise, and active governance but the long-term payoff is well worth the effort.

Is Implementing a B2B Multicloud Platform Worth It for My Business?

Implementing a B2B multicloud platform is certainly worth it for most large online B2B enterprises today. A multicloud approach provides greater cost efficiency compared to relying on a single vendor cloud.

Businesses can choose the optimal B2B multicloud platform based on performance, capabilities, and price for each application. Spreading resources across multiple clouds also enables better continuity – if one cloud platform experiences downtime, traffic can be routed to alternate platforms.

A multicloud architecture also prevents vendor lock-in, which can happen by putting all workloads on a single cloud. Lock-in reduces bargaining power, flexibility to switch platforms, and ability to leverage new innovations. With a multicloud management platform, businesses remain agile and can utilize best-of-breed services from leading providers like AWS, Azure, and Oracle Cloud.

The small overhead of managing multiple clouds is outweighed by these benefits. Leading B2B multicloud platforms provide the required centralized visibility, governance, and automation across different environments. While a single cloud appears simpler, a multicloud strategy delivers greater business value and is the preferred approach for most forward-thinking enterprises today.