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Multicloud has risen to the fore in 2019 as customers continue to migrate to the cloud and build out a variety of cloud environments.

When it comes to multicloud, it offers obvious benefits of not being locked in with a single provider, as well as being able to try varying platforms. But how far have customers actually gotten when it comes to operating multicloud environments? And what does 2020 hold for the strategy?

Adoption

As 2020 approaches and datacenter leases expire, we can expect to see continued cloud adoption with the big public cloud players – Amazon and Azure in particular. Whether a move to a multicloud environment is in the cards or whether that may be a step too far for firms that are already nervous about shifting from a hosted datacenter to the public cloud is a question cloud providers are eager to get answers to.

But there isn’t a simple answer, of course.

We have to remember that with a multicloud solution, there has to be a way to migrate or move workloads between the clouds, and one of the hurdles multicloud adoption is going to face in 2020 is organizations not yet having the knowledge base when it comes to different cloud platforms.

What we may well see is firms taking that first step and turning to VMware or Kubernetes – an opensource container orchestration platform – as a means to overlay native cloud services in order to adopt multicloud strategies. At VMworld in August, the vendor demonstrated VMs being migrated between Azure and AWS, something users can start to become familiar with in order to build their knowledge of cloud migrations and, therefore, multicloud environments.

For multicloud in 2020 this means not so much adoption, but awareness and investigation. Those organizations using an overlay like VMware to operate a multicloud environment can do so without having deep cloud expertise and sophistication in-house. This may be where multicloud takes off in 2020. Organizations wouldn’t necessarily need to know (or care) how to get between their clouds, they would have the ability to bounce between Azure, Amazon and Google Cloud via their VMware instead.

Still, as we’re moving into a multicloud world and companies start to gravitate towards a multicloud model, they’re going to see that there are multiple ways to utilize it. They will want to understand it and investigate it further, which will naturally lead to questions as to how it can serve their business. And at the moment, the biggest limiter is not having this in-house knowledge to give organizations that direction. Most firms don’t yet have one single person that knows Amazon or Azure at a sophisticated enough level to comfortably answer questions about the individual platforms, let alone how they can operate together in a multicloud environment.

What this means is that customers do a lot of outsourcing when it comes to managing their cloud environment, particularly in areas like PaaS, IaaS, Salesforce and so on. As a result, organizations are starting to understand how they can use these cloud technologies for their internal company processes, and they’re asking, ‘Why can’t we use the rest of the cloud as well, not just for this?’ This will push firms to start investigating multicloud more in 2020 and beyond – because they will realize they’re already operating elements of a multicloud environment and their service providers can advise them on how to build on that.

Adoption steps

For firms thinking about adopting a multicloud environment – even those who may not feel ready yet – it’s a great idea to start exploring a minimum of two cloud providers. This will help organizations get a feel for the interface and services, which will lead to an understanding of how a multicloud environment can serve their business and which direction to go in.

It’s also a good idea to check out demos of the VMware or Kubernetes platforms to see where they might fit in.

And lastly, engage early with Amazon, Azure and VMware or a premier partner like 2nd Watch. Companies seeking a move to the cloud are potentially missing out on monies set aside for migration assistance and adoption.

What will 2020 bring?

2020 is certainly set to see multicloud questions being asked, but it’s likely that hybrid cloud will be more prevalent than multicloud. Why? Because customers are still trying to decide if they want to get into cloud rather than think about how they can utilize multiple clouds in their environment. They just aren’t there yet.

As customers still contemplate this move to the cloud, it’s much more likely that they will consider a partial move – the hybrid cloud – to begin with, as it gives them the comfort of knowing they still hold some of their data on-premise, while they get used to the idea of the public cloud. This is especially true of customers in highly regulated industries, such as finance and healthcare.

What does this mean for multicloud? A wait. The natural step forward from hybrid cloud is multicloud, but providers will need to accept that it’s going to take time and we’re simply not quite there yet, nor will we be in 2020.

But we will be on the way – well on the way – as customers take a step further along the logical path to a multicloud future. 2020 may not be the year of multicloud, but it will be the start of a pretty short journey there.

-Jason Major, Principal Cloud Consultant

-Michael Moore, Associate Cloud Consultant

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