By adopting a multi-cloud strategy, that is, by running your cloud-based deployments on multiple cloud providers, redundancy is taken to a whole new level. By selecting data centers from different providers to host our cloud servers, we can effectively eliminate the risk associated with the business continuity of the infrastructure provider, as well as risks related to electricity suppliers, networking providers and other “data center” issues, since each cloud provider will usually operate separately.
A multi-cloud strategy also reduces other risks associated with having a single provider: let’s say someone discovers a vulnerability on the virtualization platform that your current infrastructure provider uses. If you are deploying on multiple clouds, you can simply shut down the servers on the vulnerable provider with little or no impact to your operations. The same mentality applies if suddenly your provider decides to increase its prices, or even change its terms of service: shut down your servers, and move your business to someone else.
For a while, during the early years of cloud computing (which was no more than 3-4 years ago), adopting a multi-cloud strategy was hard. Cloud providers operated on proprietary closed architectures that made migration a headache: you’d need to effectively download whatever data you had, rebuild your virtual machine from scratch on another provider, and then upload everything back again. Today, however, these barriers to change are dropping fast.
Motivated by the need to enable the interoperability of existing corporate data centers with their own public infrastructure, cloud providers are facilitating the upload and download of entire virtual machines, so that copying your VMs from one provider to another is easier than ever. There are data migration solutions that allow you to move data from one service provider to another with ease. There are even cloud-based service providers, such as Cloudability, that make it easier for you to manage multiple cloud providers at the same time.
Like what happens in any market where competition abounds, on the cloud there are significant differences between providers: some will offer better support, some will offer better SLA terms, some will have lower prices, some will have better APIs and so on. The best way to understand these differences and choose the providers that best fit your needs is to experiment with them. I spent a good six months experimenting with different infrastructure providers before settling on the ones (three at any given time) I currently use, and I’m always evaluating new alternatives. With the tools and functionality available today, there is no excuse for not going the multi-cloud route.