single cloud vs multi-cloud provider
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Should you owe allegiance to a single cloud provider or brand?

5 Mins read

Cloud technology is the foundation of any digital business. Gartner predicts that cloud computing and services will be a $300 billion business by 2021.

“Demand for integrated IaaS and PaaS offerings is driving the next wave of cloud infrastructure adoption,” – Sid Nag, research director at Gartner. “We expect that IaaS-only cloud providers will continue to exist in the future, but only as niche players, as organizations will demand offerings with more breadth and depth for their hybrid environments. Already, strategic initiatives such as digital transformation projects resulting in the adoption of multicloud and hybrid cloud fuel the growth of the IaaS market.”

The multi-cloud approach is clearly topping the list for quite some time for the enterprises. However, when it comes to simplistic approach, nothing can beat the single -cloud strategy.

We are not trying to create confusion here, but rather trying to take a balanced approach towards guiding you as to which strategy is right for your enterprise – single cloud or multi-cloud.

Read on as we try to answer should you owe allegiance to a single cloud provider or brand.

What is a single-cloud strategy?

A single cloud strategy involves leveraging the services of a single cloud provider for all customer applications and workloads. It can be either a private cloud or public cloud, depending upon the organization and its needs. Most often, organizations adopt a single cloud strategy for migrating a single application or service to the cloud. For example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), HRMS (Human Resource Management System) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software.

A single cloud environment is ideal for startups, small and medium businesses (SMBs) and those who wish to take advantages of cloud technology, without taking care of many technicalities.

Note: If an organization opts for a hybrid cloud model, with both public and private clouds from the same cloud provider, then only it will be considered as a single cloud environment. If the private cloud is provided by a different vendor, then this will fall into the multi-cloud environment category.

What is a multi-cloud strategy?

In a multi-cloud environment, a customer uses two or more cloud services from two or more cloud service providers. For example, a customer may use Microsoft Office 365 for email services, AWS servers for running development and testing services and host his website on Azure datacenter close to his customers, to avoid latency issues.

The term multi-cloud, coined by Gartner, provides a lucrative prospect of picking the best cloud services from the market, to get high performance and competitive pricing, along with avoiding issues related to vendor lock-in.

Many organizations seek a single cloud platform that can provide them with low cost, scalability, privacy and security for applications along with no vendor lock-in. But it’s like looking beyond the horizon as such a single cloud environment simply doesn’t exist.

By 2022, the top four cloud “mega platforms” will host 80% of IaaS/PaaS deployments, by 2024, 90% of Global 1000 organizations will mitigate lock-in through multi- and hybrid cloud technologies and tools. – IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2019 Predictions

multi-cloud usage

Image credit: SlideShare

Differences between single cloud environment and multi-cloud environment:

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of both the options.

Features Single Cloud Provider/Brand Multi-Cloud Provider/ Brands
Lock-in If you owe allegiance to a single cloud provider or brand, then they leverage more control over you and their terms may make it difficult for you to migrate to other providers, in case of issues, limiting your capabilities. A multi-cloud approach helps an organization easily migrate away from a provider they have issues with and provides them with better opportunities to expand by integrating services of other providers, as and when needed.
Dependency When you go with a single cloud provider or brand, you put your IT infrastructure in the hands of a single vendor. It can be risky if they decide to raise prices, what if they suffer an outage or their service quality declines. When you go with multiple vendors, you may be at lesser risk, but you will need to depend on different providers – managing their costs and support may seem like a hassle in the long run.
Flexibility One single cloud provider may not have the best solution for each scenario. You can integrate services to get the best solution for your specific needs and growing workloads.
Innovation Since you get limited offerings, you may not get all the features you need in your solution and may need to stretch yourself to fit into the one-size-fits- all approach. One of the prime benefits of using multi-cloud strategy is that you get to choose the desired solution, like email service of one, AI solution of the other, and another one for data storage. This kind of freedom helps in spurring innovation by freeing resources’ and their time.
Downtime and Disaster Recovery If you have a single provider, your services will go down if they suffer a major outage. If you use multi-cloud services and maintain two copies of your applications in the clouds of two different brands, you will be safe even if one vendor suffers outage.
Security and Privacy Security is the shared responsibility of both- the customer and the cloud provider. When you move your data to a single cloud provider, your privacy and security is the joint responsibility of the cloud provider and you. In the case of a multi-cloud environment, the division of responsibilities may differ from one provider to another and the responsibility to understand and manage them falls on your shoulder. However, leading cloud providers are increasingly working towards addressing the privacy and security concerns in the cloud and this helps in a multi-cloud scenario.
Complexity Single cloud strategy is considered to be less complex as the organization’s IT team needs to deal with only one service provider and their policies, SLAs etc. Multi-cloud strategy is generally considered to be complex in nature as an organization’s IT team needs to understand and manage different cloud services, get trained in them. Also, different providers have different SLAs, T&Cs which need to be taken into account and considered during cloud adoption.
Return on Investment (ROI) Though single cloud environment provides you with low cost as you get discounted services when you buy multiple services from a single provider, but it mars innovation as you have to adapt your needs as per the limited services offered by a single cloud provider. With leading cloud providers vying for customer attention in the hyper-competitive cloud market, enterprises benefit with innovative services and discounted offerings that they get.

Rather than tagging the points as advantages of multi-cloud strategy or disadvantages of single-cloud strategy, we have tried to add all the points from an informational point of view.

If you are a cloud service provider, as a trusted advisor you can help your customer decide the best cloud course as per their business needs. Platforms like RackNap help the customers to manage their multi-cloud as well as single cloud offerings from a unified panel with self-service capabilities easing the workload of the Cloud Service Providers like you. If you would like more information on how to offer cloud services efficiently to your customers using the right tools, write to us at [email protected].

Team RackNap is attending Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas, Nevada from 14-18 July. Schedule a meeting with us.

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About author
Sabarinathan, SVP of RackNap heads product and technical delivery functions. He has over 18 years of experience in the IT industry with specialization in cloud services delivery. He believes that to be successful, cloud service providers need – right business strategy, right automation platform along with skilled manpower.
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