The growing “cloudification” of services is one of the defining stories in enterprise IT over the last decade. Digital leaders across the world have taken advantage of cloud services to increase performance, scalability, flexibility, cost-efficiency and more. In fact, the trend of growing cloud adoption is ongoing even today: according to the 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS) from Equinix, 71% of global IT leaders said their companies plan to move more functions to the cloud during the next 12 months.
That said, exactly what the future of cloud will look like remains an open question. One thing that does seem clear is that many businesses are opting not to go all-in with a single public cloud provider. In the past, they may have valued the simplicity and ease of deployment they got from such an arrangement. Now, it’s clear that they’ve come to value flexibility in their cloud infrastructure even more.
This fact is backed up by GTTS data, which shows that 38% of IT decision-makers consider hybrid cloud their primary method for deploying cloud services, compared to only 21% for public cloud. Furthermore, about 79% said they currently work with two or more cloud providers. Since most enterprises have traditionally had more than one physical data center in the past, they’re now treating their cloud providers as if they were a physical data center, even though the providers themselves consist of multiple regions.
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Since no one can accurately predict exactly what the future might hold, a future-proof cloud infrastructure must logically be flexible enough to adapt to anything. For this reason, it’s no wonder more businesses are turning to hybrid multicloud. At its most basic level, a hybrid multicloud architecture is all about using each specific cloud in the way that works best for you. By maximizing flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in, your organization can enjoy lower costs, access to best-of-breed services, and the ability to tap into an ecosystem of Software as a Service (SaaS) providers.
Act now to avoid excessive costs later
By definition, a future-proof cloud infrastructure doesn’t store all data in a single cloud. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that the best place to store your data may not be in the cloud at all. Organizations that store their data directly in a particular cloud will have to pay increasingly onerous data egress fees every time they want to use their data outside that cloud.
As data volumes increase, egress fees will increase along with them. Even businesses that find their data egress fees relatively manageable now should start planning to move away from cloud storage as soon as possible. Data gravity—the trend for workloads and applications to be drawn closer to larger data sets—will only continue to grow the longer they stay on their current path. Over time, these companies will find it more difficult and costly to run their workloads and applications where they actually want to run them. Some enterprises may also feel like they’re giving up a degree of control over their data by storing it on someone else’s infrastructure.
Take advantage of best-of-breed services—wherever they may come from
One factor driving the growing popularity of hybrid multicloud is that cloud services are simply more differentiated than they may have been in the past. There was a point in time where cloud services were essentially commodities, meaning that you wouldn’t miss out much if you worked exclusively with one cloud partner over all others. Now, different cloud providers all have clear strengths and weaknesses. A future-proof cloud infrastructure must be able to capitalize on the strengths of each provider, while also avoiding exposure to the weaknesses.
It’s also important to think about different cloud providers from the perspective of future innovation. All cloud providers are constantly investing significant time and resources into creating new and ever-better services, and it’s simply impossible for enterprises to predict which cloud provider is going to create the next must-have service. For this reason, having the flexibility to adopt a new service from any cloud provider quickly and easily is an important step toward a future-proof cloud infrastructure.
Make your data work for you—not the other way around
One trend we can safely assume will accelerate in the years to come is the growing importance of digital ecosystems. Across the technology industry, businesses are growing more specialized, which in turn means they’re outsourcing more services. Enterprises are increasingly relying on a roster of niche SaaS providers for things like cybersecurity, analytics and customer relationship management, freeing themselves up to focus more on their own core competencies.
Data is at the heart of these partner ecosystems. Enterprises must be able to account for SaaS providers as part of their future-proof cloud infrastructure, and that means being able to move the right data sets to the right provider as needed to support a particular application or workload. It’s essential for enterprises to store their data where they can access it without excessive costs or latency.
To maximize flexibility, place data on a vendor-neutral platform
In this blog, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of ensuring flexibility in your cloud infrastructure, and what you stand to lose by not being flexible. But how do you actually ensure the flexibility your organization needs?
Creating a cloud-adjacent infrastructure can help. Cloud adjacency is the latest step in the evolution of hybrid multicloud. It involves creating an authoritative data core that stores copies of data sets aggregated from across your distributed infrastructure. You can then move those data sets from the core to the cloud provider of your choice, without risking vendor lock-in in the process. As a result, you’ll be able to tap into cloud services from multiple vendors on demand, without ever giving up control over your data or paying high data egress fees.
Platform Equinix® can serve as the vendor-neutral platform that helps you build your ideal cloud-adjacent infrastructure for maximum flexibility—now and into the future. The Equinix partner ecosystem includes more than 3,000 cloud and IT service providers, allowing you to connect with the clouds of your choice quickly and easily. To learn more about how businesses are accelerating their digital transformations on Platform Equinix, via cloud adjacency and other key future-proofing use cases, read the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure.