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Increased flexibility. Freedom from vendor lock-in. Reduced risk. These are just some of the advantages that have led many IT leaders to spread their organizations’ workloads across a mix of private and public cloud platforms. As numerous surveys have shown, the movement toward multi-vendor clouds is global, and it’s increasing in pace.

So is the move to multi-cloud also helping to accelerate innovation? That’s the question we posed recently to members of the IDG Influencer Network, a community of industry analysts, IT professionals, and journalists. While their answers varied, the overriding sentiment of these influencers was perhaps best expressed by Mike Kail (@mdkail), CTO of Everest, who said, “Multi-cloud helps accelerate innovation as it allows you to evaluate and choose the appropriate cloud provider for the business needs that you’re solving for.”

According to Stephen Pao (@steve_pao), a Principal at Hillwork LLC, multi-cloud enables rapid innovation at the departmental and business-unit levels.

“Often, rather than relying on enterprise IT to define architecture, these innovative departments and business units have deployed their own workloads in particular public clouds based on their specific requirements,” Pao said. “In this environment of innovation, enterprise IT should focus on multi-cloud management for security, data management, and cost optimization across functions.”

Ashwin Krishnan (@AceKrish), SVP of Products and Strategy at UberKnowledge, said that multi-cloud by definition means a competitive landscape, where rapid innovation is rife across the cloud providers competing for customers.

“What that allows businesses to do is to be able to use this continuous product innovation across these various clouds as a stimulus to increase their velocity of offerings as well,” he observed. “For instance, use serverless computing on demand on one cloud as a way to develop and trial a new feature. And if it proves successful, expand that to other clouds.”

The key to accelerating digital transformation?

For Giuliano Liguori (@ingliguori), CIO at CTP, the right multi-cloud strategy could be the key to accelerating digital transformation.

“In this way, a multi-cloud approach could allow companies to exploit the best parts of each provider’s services and combine them to create the best cloud solution for their business, meanwhile maximizing the opportunity to optimize costs and performance, while avoiding the risk of lock-in with a single cloud vendor,” he added.

“I see multi-cloud as diversity and inclusion in the cloud,” said Moin Shaikh (@moingshaikh), an eCommerce Analyst at IntesolsAU. “Having a diverse set of multi-cloud solutions working for you brings in unprecedented strength to IT. Just as more diverse and multi-cultured people bring different ideas, approaches, and insights into an organization and its workflow, a set of multi-cloud solutions can also open newer possibilities for innovation as IT can leverage best-in-class features from different vendors.”

For a number of influencers, multi-cloud spurs innovation by the flexibility and choice it provides.

For example, Larry Larmeu (@LarryLarmeu), Principal Technical Consultant at Accenture, pointed out that for years the IT industry has faced the question of whether to go with a best-of-breed approach or to use an integrated application stack.

“A well-architected multi-cloud solution gives you the best of both worlds: the integrated platform of a stack approach with the flexibility of best-of-breed,” Larmeu said. “This allows your practitioners to do work in the cloud that is most suited to their needs, taking advantage of market-leading features and innovations available from the top providers in their sector, while operating within a cohesive data management and security platform.”

It’s an idea that resonates with Dominique West (@domyboo), Cloud Security Engineer at Cloudreach.

“Locking yourself into one cloud service provider will significantly hinder your ability to get ahead,” she said. “When done correctly, embracing a multi-cloud solution empowers teams and departments with a flexibility that they can leverage to set themselves apart in this digital economy. Combined with automation, workflow processes, job scheduling, you name it, it allows organizations to quickly and reliably deliver services.”

“The main benefit is that it allows a firm to have the best of both cloud worlds,” said Ben Rothke (@benrothke), Senior Information Security Specialist at Tadpad. “That enables them to pick and choose the cloud solutions and technologies that specifically work best for them. A lot of firms that have to comply with GDPR have found significant benefits with a multi-cloud approach.”

Running apps in ‘the most ideal environment’

Daniel Newman (@danielnewmanUV), CEO of Futurum Research, likes the flexibility that multi-cloud offers for enterprises to run their applications “in the most ideal environment.”

“It allows companies to leverage the power of containers, cloud native, as well as legacy applications to their fullest potential across a plethora of diverse environments with less friction, leading to greater operational efficiencies,” he said.

“Data comes in many varieties, is used for vastly differing purposes, so performance and security requirements differ significantly too,” observed Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), Conference Chair of Cloud Expo. “The main advantage of a multi-cloud strategy is choice. Enterprises can fine-tune how to gather, process, and protect their data.”

Debra Ruh (@debraruh), CEO of Ruh Global, said that, for many of her clients, a single cloud provider isn’t meeting their current needs.

“For example, is your current cloud computing accessible to all your clients?” she asked. “We are finding the need to have a multi-cloud approach for security, privacy, and accessibility needs.”

“It used to be, if you wanted speed to market using cloud there was ‘One True Way to Go.’ That doesn’t have to hold true anymore,” said Wayne Anderson (@DigitalSecArch), Enterprise Security Architect at McAfee. “Your application team can choose an approach and a tool and a tech, on one platform or another, to test ideas and data quickly.”

Don’t overlook data protection

While there was little doubt that multi-cloud is helping to spur innovation, several influencers made the case for exercising caution in this new environment.

“As more and more SaaS services are adopted, the notion of multi-cloud becomes pervasive and essentially an afterthought,” noted Stephen diFilipo (@S_dF), Owner and Strategic Advisor at Just Right Strategies. “This does not release the organization from ensuring sufficient SLAs are in place to ensure that data is secured.”

“It’s easier than ever to connect different services from different cloud vendors into unified workloads, rapidly creating services that are just right for the context,” added J. Kevin Parker (@JKevinParker), an Information Architect and keynote speaker. “However, in addition to the larger cyber footprint to guard, multi-cloud solutions face the same challenges enterprise IT has faced for decades: managing complexity, managing master data, and governing all that information.”

As you embrace a multi-cloud strategy, try to avoid the additional complexities of managing your data protection requirements by ensuring your data protection solution is also multi-cloud. To learn about multi-cloud solutions from Veritas, go here.