Public, private, or hybrid? Organizations don't have to -- and, often, don't want to -- choose only one. Not all clouds are the same. The strengths of one might fit a particular enterprise task better than another. Perhaps more important, the security attributes of one may come closer to what the IT manager is looking for.
In addition, IT often ends up with responsibility for managing the cloud service, but users in one of the lines of business are frequently the initiator of the sign-up. Was that most recent sign-up with a compatible provider, and if not, what should IT do about it?
"In most enterprises multi-cloud infrastructure emerges as a result of organic adoption. One business unit, department or team uses AWS and another uses Azure and there you go: a multi-cloud organization," according to a summary of an interview with Scalr CEO Sebastian Stadil posted on his firm's website. Scalr is another front-end for managing multiple clouds.
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The cloud providers also vary in the degree of platform-as-a-service support they can offer once you've enlisted in using their infrastructure. Microsoft offers a rich assortment of Windows tools, combined with some choices on open source. Amazon, on the other hand, hosts Heroku and other PaaS providers. Nearly any open source option can be made available, including some of those sought by Windows programmers.
RightScale, a provider of front-end management to multiple clouds, says the typical public cloud user adopts 1.5 service providers for running apps and another 1.5 for experimentation. In addition, the same user is likely to run applications on 1.7 private clouds and experiment with 1.3 private clouds.
That makes a total of 6 clouds in use by the average user, according to RightScale's 2016 State of the Cloud Report. The findings are based on a Jan. 2016 survey of 1,060 respondents that ranged from technical executives to managers and practitioners, and represent organizations of varying sizes among many industries.
Here are six ways to assess whether you need to be a participant in multi-cloud computing.