Avoiding the Cloud vs Cloud Play-off


July 13, 2017

Michael Tiyce is CTO Group’s Delivery Business Manager. Contact him directly via email or through his LinkedIn account.

When we talk about cloud computing providers in 2017, sometimes the discussion can feel like we’re discussing the merits of different football teams.

You know how it goes: Often a certain colleague is more familiar with how a particular provider operates, so they tend to favour it over others. Others may just feel that a different provider is usually more appropriate for a certain use case.

It’s not precisely Collingwood versus Carlton, but you get the picture.

But the question is, should we be treating individual cloud providers as a flag we’d like to raise, fly with honour and shout enthusiastic encouragement for? I think not.

Realistically, cloud computing providers are just an enabler and should be viewed as such. We’re consuming services to fulfil our business requirements. So, why not use ‘whatever’ services from ‘whatever’ providers that will meet ‘whatever’ your business requirements are?

For those that don’t do this or have attempted it, I can hear the moaning already: The complexity of using multiple providers, management overhead etc.

Perhaps this is true, or perhaps not.

Where it becomes important is not to be locked into a propriety ecosystem and to be mindful of locking yourself into any contractual obligations.

Using cloud computing services should ultimately be about improving your business agility and avoiding roadblocks at critical points of organisational transformation. You need to be able to answer the question: Why not use multiple providers?

This issue is not just restricted to public cloud providers; it includes using your own on-premise capability or even using another organisation that can provide a hybrid solution.

Your organisation must be aware of (or ask about) the standards used by cloud providers and what your business already does or wants to integrate with. In my opinion, the more open the better, as you have far greater support. Open source initiatives such as OpenStack clearly excel on this front.

The more businesses demand this requirement, the more the major players will have to listen or they’ll lose the game.

Once you have your own standards established, you can assess all the major cloud providers for the services or functions you want to consume. Managing the diversity of providers should not be an impediment to your organisation.

How do you know your business is in a mature state for this “complexity”?

Well, are you already, or are you close to automating and orchestrating your workloads/functions? If yes, you’re in the big leagues now — don’t restrict yourself, go for it. If not, your business still needs to build this capability, probably with respect to your DevOps area.

The decision to pick and choose is now a lot easier.

So, why not fly multiple flags?

What challenges are you finding with your organisation’s cloud computing strategy? Drop Michael a line directly or through his LinkedIn account.