Navigating the multicloud maze

The days of single public cloud deployments are numbered. Nowadays, best practice suggests using the most suitable environment for each application, making multicloud the de facto infrastructure standard.
By Tiana Cline, Contributor
Johannesburg, 06 Jun 2024
Ria Pinto, IBM South Africa
Ria Pinto, IBM South Africa

Virtana’s study on the state of multicloud management reported that 82% of organisations are already using a multicloud strategy. According to an IBM Institute for Business Value study, the average organisation uses eight or nine cloud infrastructure environments at any given time. “Organisations want to run in multiple places. They want to run in their own datacentres, but also on at least one public cloud, but, increasingly, more than one public cloud,” says Ian Haynes, EMEA Field CTO at Nutanix. He adds that public clouds have their strengths, on which they will seek to capitalise.

What many businesses are discovering is that using a single cloud vendor can be limiting; being tied to one cloud provider can make life difficult when performance issues arise, costs escalate or the sole provider you’ve picked doesn’t offer the services you need. On the other hand, a multicloud architecture reinforces business continuity by allowing organisations to spread systems and workloads across more than one cloud platform. You’re able Navigating the multicloud maze to migrate workloads to an alternative service if one service has latency issues or goes down.

“A multicloud architecture empowers businesses to choose a mix of the best cloud products and services to match their business needs,” says Ria Pinto, IBM South Africa’s country general manager.

“Proprietary cloud solutions create vendor lock-in, often limiting businesses to standardised solutions that can result in walled software gardens and dependency on one provider’s suite of products or services,” adds Danie Thom, a hybrid cloud platform specialist at Red Hat. “This limits a business’ options when they need added functionality, platform integration or simply want to change cloud providers.”

Multicloud lets businesses choose cloud services from different providers based on their pricing, performance, geographical location and security and compliance. “There is a great deal of benefit in using each cloud for what it’s good for, and putting systems and applications on each cloud,” says Haynes. “They all operate on a certain set of data so you have application centricity and data gravity and that keeps a set of applications together.”

Best of breed

Cloud providers have different strengths, which is why choosing more than one can be advantageous. But picking a cloud vendor is complex. “If you’re trying to determine what your multicloud strategy is going to be, then you need to think about the different areas in your business as well as the applications and services that support those areas. Where would they be best suited?” asks Haynes. He recommends making this decision at the business or enterprise level. “Don’t let individual project teams make those decisions for themselves because what you will end up building is a big mess that will be difficult to manage,” he says. “You want to be practical about where you place these applications and then work out what your interoperability is going to be between those different cloud providers.”

For many businesses, multicloud often happens by accident. When an organisation start migrating their workloads to the cloud, they choose public clouds on an ad hoc basis and eventually end up with multiple public cloud solutions and a growing number of heterogenous databases, storage systems, compute platforms, security systems and governance systems. Deploying to more than one cloud is difficult, and difficult to do efficiently. Harnessing the diverse functionality available from multiple clouds and integrating those clouds is a major undertaking. This is why a successful multicloud strategy hinges on consistent control across different cloud vendors, not just to prevent vendor lock-in, but to make management less complex, improving security and resilience.

“Cloud users face challenges in understanding their environment due to limited access to underlying hardware and logs. Multicloud further complicates this by increasing the scope of monitoring and making it harder to enforce governance policies consistently,” says Amritesh Anand, vice-president and MD, Technology Services Group at In2IT Technologies.

Multicloud, by mistake?

Anand explains that existing network monitoring tools are not enough to provide cloud visibility as they focus on data flows outside of the cloud environment. “Cloud providers offer visibility tools, but they only cover their own environments, leaving gaps in overall visibility, especially in multicloud scenarios.” To address this, Anand recommends implementing a centralised monitoring and management solution that can provide visibility across the multicloud environment. “This solution should include infrastructure monitoring, application performance monitoring, security monitoring, and compliance reporting,” he says. “Utilise a unified dashboard or reporting tool that aggregates data from multiple cloud platforms and provides a holistic view of your entire infrastructure. Choose cloudagnostic tools for consistent visibility and control.”

The best way to gain visibility into a multicloud environment is to use a thirdparty dashboard or cloud platform that compiles data from all your clouds and presents a consolidated view, offering insights into usage, spending and security. “As a business, you want to be able to leverage where you put your applications and where you put your data to make use of those different strengths. What Nutanix allows you to do is provide a consistent hybrid cloud platform that hides the technical differences between using each of those clouds,” says Haynes. “You want to have a platform on top of that which is easier to manage and which gives you a single view of where all your applications are running, where your data is, but also gives you the ability to reach out and get the strengths of each one of those individual areas. It’s about decreasing the complexity, but also increasing your ability to get to the benefits of being on those clouds as quickly as possible.”


The term “multicloud” can mean different things to different people. In simple terms:

  • Multicloud refers to using at least two different public cloud computing environments (such as AWS and GCP). These clouds may be used within the same application, or for different applications. Any organisation that has in-use accounts with multiple public cloud providers may be considered multicloud.
  • Hybrid cloud refers to using at least two different computing environments: one or more public cloud service providers (e.g. AWS) and one or more private clouds (e.g. on-premises datacentres). A company that is hybrid cloud may also be multicloud if it uses more than one public cloud service provider.
  • Intercloud refers to using multiple public cloud providers within the context of the same application. These clouds may be used for different workloads within the application, or a single workload may be running across multiple public clouds. Intercloud is, therefore, a specific subtype of multicloud.
  • Single-workload multicloud refers to deploying a single workload across multiple clouds, for example, operating a single distributed database cluster that has nodes on both AWS and Azure.


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