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Cloud Expo 2023: The Rise of the Multi-Cloud Era

Written on May 16, 2023 by Jeff Fan.

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From Whispers to Roars: The Multi-Cloud Narrative

Cloud Expo 2023

As the echoes of the recently concluded Cloud Expo Europe 2023 fade, one refrain continues to reverberate – the clamor for multi-cloud strategies. Amidst a host of tech talks and ideas shaping the future of cloud computing, this theme stood out, echoing the evolution of whispers to emphatic roars.

From my vantage point as a Senior Solutions Engineer at DigitalOcean, this shift is anything but surprising. Daily interactions with customers of various sizes have shown a growing appetite for multi-cloud strategies. So, what's fueling this trend, and why is it the talk of Cloud Expo?

The Economic Engine Driving the Multi-Cloud Buzz

Today's economy, strained by rising interest rates, is putting businesses in a tight spot. Looking at Q3 2022 earnings calls from big players like Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet, we can see a clear trend. Companies are hunkering down, keen to reduce costs and build up their cash stash. For instance, Microsoft 365 subscribers are dropping lesser-used services from their package, and some customers are realizing that maybe they don't need that dedicated Technical Support Team from cloud providers after all. They're okay with a regular support plan.

So, how is this impacting the multi-cloud landscape? In an interesting twist, cloud providers, feeling the pinch themselves, have rolled out incentives to lure in competitors' customers. But there's more to this story than meets the eye.

Fereral Reserve

This economic pressure is transforming the cloud landscape. Previously, companies would rely on a single cloud provider - a kind of "all eggs in one basket" approach. But that strategy is evolving. Companies are now asking, "What if our cloud provider hikes their prices due to economic pressures? What if even giants like FANNG have to lay off staff to save for the future?" So, they're spreading their wings, choosing a multi-cloud approach that offers both safety and flexibility.

This change has ripple effects. As companies start to see cloud services as strategic investments instead of just costs, the race among cloud providers is heating up. It's not just about who has the lowest price anymore, but who delivers the most value. This is a pivotal moment for the cloud industry, with potential to shake up strategies for both cloud providers and their customers. The shift to multi-cloud isn't just a passing fad – it's the new game in town.

The Strategic Upside of the Multi-Cloud Approach

Beyond the obvious benefit of avoiding vendor lock-in, there's more to a multi-cloud strategy than meets the eye. To illustrate, let's borrow a page from the world of accounting. My wife, having transitioned from an auditing manager at a Big 4 firm to an in-house finance manager, shared a fascinating dynamic: When a company switches to a new accounting firm, the incoming team typically critiques the predecessor's work, presenting their own methodologies as superior.

How does this relate to the multi-cloud approach? Well, think of it this way: By adopting multi-cloud, you're essentially inviting the world's top cloud talent to audit your system. Each cloud provider, in an attempt to showcase their own strengths, will scrutinize the others, leading to a mutually beneficial cycle of audit and improvement.

Suppose a cloud provider slips up, causing downtime in your system. Another provider will swoop in, highlighting their own robust systems and how they could prevent such mishaps in the future. You might be offered an enticing plan to transition to their platform. And so, you're not just avoiding the pitfalls of a single provider; you're continuously harnessing the best each provider has to offer.

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For instance, you might leverage DigitalOcean for its superior egress rates while maintaining your Big Data Analytics with hyperscale providers known for their analytical prowess. In this way, you're always aligning your business with the best-in-class services.

Ultimately, it's the customers who come out on top. By adopting a multi-cloud approach, they're able to capitalize on each provider's unique strengths, securing a more resilient and efficient system. It's a strategy that doesn't just tackle vendor lock-in; it ushers in a new paradigm of constant improvement and innovation.

Who Stands to Benefit from a Multi-Cloud Approach?

At first glance, the multi-cloud strategy appears tailor-made for businesses aiming for agility and cost-effectiveness. However, there's more to this story, with a few realities that need to be factored in.

The adoption of multi-cloud inevitably broadens the range of your touchpoints, meaning more time spent communicating your requirements to different providers. Moreover, it complicates your infrastructure management. Let's take automation scripts, for instance. They now need to work with APIs from multiple cloud providers, a task that demands sophisticated handling. Finally, it escalates the demand for talent – professionals proficient in managing multiple cloud environments, a skillset that's currently rare.

So, are these challenges surmountable? Absolutely. With effective project management, clear communication protocols, and the right training initiatives, businesses can navigate these complexities. Some organizations have even leveraged the competitive nature of the multi-cloud market to their advantage, using the array of options to negotiate better deals and services.

The real question, then, is this:

Is it the right time for your company to adopt a multi-cloud strategy?

This depends on your specific situation. Businesses with a strong financial standing that have already mastered one cloud platform often consider multi-cloud to diversify and mitigate vendor lock-in risks. For them, it's about operational excellence.

On the other hand, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and startups might have different priorities. At the growth stage, they're typically focused on product development and market fit. Their resources are often allocated to expanding user bases and datasets during the hypergrowth phase. However, there could be exceptions – a data-driven startup, for instance, might value the data sovereignty offered by a multi-cloud approach.

Ultimately, adopting a multi-cloud strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It's a strategic choice that needs to align with your company's size, stage, and objectives. Yet, one thing is clear – as cloud technologies evolve, multi-cloud is increasingly becoming a key part of the conversation.

Ultimately, adopting a multi-cloud strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It's a strategic choice that needs to align with your company's size, stage, and objectives. Yet, one thing is clear – as cloud technologies evolve, multi-cloud is increasingly becoming a key part of the conversation.

DigitalOcean at Cloud Expo 2023

DigitalOcean at Cloud Expo 2023

One of the most significant takeaways from Cloud Expo 2023 was, undoubtedly, the value of personal interactions. After an extended period of remote work, I had the opportunity to finally meet my EMEA colleagues in person. Attending conferences like these is not purely about the technical or commercial aspects. On the contrary, they offer an opportunity to connect with peers on a more human level, fostering deeper professional relationships. This invaluable face-to-face networking and engagement is often what sparks innovative ideas and collaborations, making events like Cloud Expo a must-attend.

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