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In making use of different private or public clouds, a business gains both agility and the capacity to innovate. But reaping the full benefits of multicloud involves a learning curve.

Many French businesses are using multicloud without knowing it. According to the “Multicloud 2020” survey conducted by Axians and Dell Technologies, 47% of CIOs surveyed have projects in progress or under consideration in this area. However, only 9% of respondents claimed to be completely familiar with the concept.

With multicloud, CIOs are responding to the major challenges of the health crisis.

So, what is multicloud? As the name suggests, it involves making use of multiple clouds, whether public or private. “Let’s say a company is going to transform their datacentre into a private cloud while also using Office 365,” suggests Yves Pellemans, Chief Technology Officer and Director of Strategy at Axians Cloud Builder. “Some of the data from the collaboration tools is hosted internally, and some in Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud.”

With multicloud, CIOs are responding to the major challenges of the current health crisis because, according to participants in the survey, it facilitates remote working (81.7%), business continuity (53.7%), security (51.9%) and the digitalisation of business activities (48.4%). A public cloud can be particularly useful as part of a business continuity or disaster recovery plan.

Among the advantages of multicloud, CIOs highlighted simplified multi-system administration (46%) and specialised clouds by activity type (42%). “Companies will go looking for innovation with the best-performing cloud provider at any given moment,” says Yves Pellemans. “For example, Google Cloud is currently known for its expertise in voice recognition, and Amazon’s AWS for its analytics and business intelligence components.”

Multicloud requires careful orchestration

The benefits are not immediate, however, and multicloud does require a learning curve. Companies that initially use a single public cloud create a dependency on that provider (a problem mentioned by 58% of CIOs). Other complaints related to confidentiality, security and the loss of skills.

Yves Pellemans adds the unpredictable nature of the operating costs: “The costs of on-premises data hosting are known. In the Cloud, there are added costs in connection with reading, transferring and backing up data.”

The prospect of reduced costs comes in the next step. If competition exists between different public clouds, businesses will choose the most competitive services. However, Yves Pellemans warns, “The APIs and data exchange formats differ from one provider to another, which complicates reversibility and interoperability between one cloud and another.” Another issue is managing security for this distributed information system, in terms of access control and data replication. 

For Yves Pellemans, the virtualisation specialist VMware should play a key role in orchestrating multicloud. Adopted by 62% of CIOs in the survey, VMware has forged partnerships with AWS, IBM, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to deploy its “stack” both in their public clouds and in the on-premises environment.

“VMware and its technologies are present in eight out of 10 European companies, and have the advantage of being well-known to IT teams,” says Yves Pellemans. Axians, a partner of the American software firm, recently obtained its fourth VMware Master Services Competency.