According to Tom Keane, the more we analyze the benefits of edge computing, the clearer it becomes why businesses should consider a move to – or the adoption of – platforms, services, and digital infrastructures that can deliver those benefits. At the same time, however, business leaders mustn’t lose sight of the fact that technological advancements and their real-life use cases do not occur in a vacuum. What this means is that new business models, tech innovations, and cutting-edge service offerings should be looked at together so that the highest-impact force multipliers available can be adopted.
Much of the success of today’s edge offerings is due to advancements made in the cloud computing space. Without access to computing capabilities that are fast, flexible, reliable, and scalable, it would not likely have been possible to build new business models and IT infrastructures designed to deliver the real-time, low latency, and highly available functionalities that edge devices, sensors, systems, and applications provide.
That being said, Tom Keane believes that an exploration of not just cloud but multi-cloud strategies can be of immense benefit to businesses and users. Business leaders should look at the available cloud and multi-cloud offerings and how they may integrate with a given set of edge capabilities to create value and/or solve real-world challenges. Below are points to consider and critical success factors based on Tom Keane’s vast experience as a long-time leader at Azure – Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.
Tom Keane Breaks Down Multi-Cloud Strategies
As the name suggests, a multi-cloud strategy involves the use of two or more different cloud computing services. This can refer to the use of multiple SaaS (Software as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service) offerings, although it is typically used to mean a combination of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings. Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud are relevant examples of this.
Multi-cloud adoption today is primarily being driven by redundancy and vendor lock-in concerns. However, evolving business and technical goals and strategies are also linked to the rise in multi-cloud growth. For example, some cloud offerings are more price-competitive than others, while others may be faster or come with more capacity or features. Others may be better suited for particular environments, industries, or regions.
Furthermore, many organizations pursue multi-cloud strategies due to data privacy and sovereignty concerns. The evolving landscape of data privacy, protection, sovereignty, and localization laws means many types of enterprise data must be physically located in specific locations or borders. Multi-cloud strategies can be used to help organizations meet those mandates by leveraging the availability and expertise and offerings of multiple IaaS providers across different data center regions and/or availability zones. Such a setup also provides businesses with the ability to have cloud data and relevant computing resources residing as close as possible to end users, thereby optimizing performance and minimizing latency.
Pros, Cons, and Adoption Trends of Multi-Cloud Computing
Multi-cloud can prevent data loss and downtime that may arise due to localized component failures in the cloud. With multi-cloud, businesses can also avoid vendor lock-in. Tom Keane says that these have been the key driving factors of multi-cloud adoption in recent years.
However, as alluded to above, there are many other benefits to adopting a multi-cloud strategy. Since users can select the right cloud services and features that they need from the most optimized and cost-effective providers that meet all SLAs, this makes picking, choosing, and then building the perfect multi-cloud infrastructure easy. Where end needs are highly specific, such as the ability to handle a large number of requests per unit of time, process smaller data transfers on average, reduce latency, increase redundancies, add machine learning capabilities to devices, or maximize resource availability, businesses can choose what they need based on a highly specific set of requirements without having to worry about designing and building those systems from scratch.
Agility and choice, therefore, are important reasons to consider a multi-cloud architecture for your IT needs. The ability to use best-of-breed services and modernize and transform your digital infrastructure while having the upper hand in price negotiations are also compelling reasons to consider multi-cloud.
However, there are a few potential drawbacks to using multi-cloud. Many IaaS cloud providers provide their users with volume discounts in which prices fall as the user buys more of a specific service. Tom Keane says that organizations may find it increasingly difficult to qualify for such discounts and enjoy those economies of scale if they spread their IT needs across several providers or platforms. Furthermore, since multi-cloud deployments, by definition, involve multiple cloud services and/or platforms, Tom Keane says that it is important to consider the IT and staffing needs of running and maintaining that infrastructure. Workload and application management in a multi-cloud environment can also be challenging when workloads and data move between clouds, platforms, and applications.
The increased complexity of using multiple clouds as opposed to using a single provider or platform, coupled with a lack of trained personnel and difficulties in provisioning can also stand in the way of effective multi-cloud adoption and utilization.
Tom Keane Outlines How to Develop a Multi-Cloud Strategy for Your Business
Before you embark on a move to multi-cloud services, first assess your application needs and your business and technical requirements to break down the motivators for a move to multi-cloud. For example, is your ultimate goal a lowering of overall costs by migrating workloads to cloud providers that have aggressive and attractive pricing? Do you need to enhance application delivery by provisioning development resources when and where they are needed? Do you want to improve IT efficiency by freeing up resources that were formerly reliant on on-premises systems?
Tom Keane says that, in addition to the above, decision-makers should also consider the unique benefits of different cloud providers, how those benefits map to current and future needs, the strength of current vendor and provider relationships, whether vendor lock-in is or will be a concern, and any strategic or business benefits or risks that may arise in a multi-cloud setting, such as compliance or governance issues that would come about or be solved.
A simple playbook for ensuring multi-cloud success is to:
- Know the “why” of multi-cloud while focusing on key objectives, such as modernization, cost savings, or the elimination of on-premises IT infrastructure.
- Keep costs in check. Cloud platforms are all different. As per Tom Keane, if businesses are not careful, the expansion of operations, security, and governance over multiple costs can quickly spiral out of control.
- Plan for the resources you need to make your multi-cloud strategy a success. Every additional cloud adds complexity to your IT infrastructure, and they may all need dedicated and expert personnel to run and maintain them.
- Always measure progress to know where and how ROI is generated or obstructed.
Multi-Cloud for Edge? Tom Keane Weights In
Edge devices and systems, often by definition, can be countless. Think of the sensors, mobile devices, smart appliances, RFID-equipped supplies and shipments, and more. When connected, these devices, sensors, and systems make up the Internet of Things (IoT), and they all operate at the edge of where data is generated, stored, consumed – and even processed.
With the benefits of multi-cloud in mind, Tom Keane says that it is easy to see why businesses may wish to adopt a multi-cloud strategy. It can lower costs and latency while allowing businesses to choose the optimal providers for specific services and needs.
With so much variety in terms of needs, data types, device types, application requirements, and the geographic spread of large and growing edge networks, edge systems can definitely benefit from adopting a multi-cloud topology. The only consideration would be to ensure that the use case and financials make sense and can deliver the benefits and ROI expected of a multi-cloud edge implementation. If they do, then Tom Keane believes that making the move and adopting a new multi-cloud edge approach is an easy decision to make.
As mentioned at the outset, edge computing capabilities and cloud/multi-cloud technologies continue to evolve. Innovation, new offerings, new service models, and new business use cases are all driving an IT and digital transformation revolution, but the smart money is always invested in maximizing output and value creation with a given set of inputs.That being said, businesses should not look at either edge, cloud, or multi-cloud implementations as one-off and independent digital transformation initiatives or opportunities. Tech synergies, economies of scale, application tie-ins, and the incremental growth and deepening of expertise that come with specialization all provide unique and quantifiable benefits to businesses and users. With multi-cloud in an edge setting, businesses can pick and choose the services, features, cost structures, and delivery models that suit them best. With the flexibility, scalability, competitive pricing, and best-in-class offerings of different cloud platforms and services, businesses can truly build the systems that are precisely tailored to their needs and are just perfect for them.
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