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What is Multi-Cloud Architecture?

Multi-cloud architecture is an approach to IT infrastructure that can include multiple public or private clouds or a combination of public and private clouds and on-premises infrastructure. With a multi-cloud architecture, companies can strategically distribute critical workloads, applications, and data across multiple cloud service providers (CSPs). This flexibility enables organizations to select CSPs based on their individual strengths, including geographical reach, performance capabilities, security features and pricing models. The result is an optimized cloud environment that leverages the unique advantages of each provider to address specific use cases, mitigate weaknesses and achieve business objectives.

The primary components of a multi-cloud architecture include:

  • A front-end platform (the client or device used to access the cloud)
  • A back-end platform (servers and storage)
  • A cloud-based delivery model
  • A network 
  • Management and operations

Why Use a Multi-Cloud Architecture?

A wide variety of enterprises use a multi-cloud environment. Some are taking advantage of multiple cloud platforms and services to accelerate app modernization and the delivery of new apps. With a multi-cloud strategy, they can deploy and migrate apps more efficiently and easily across public and private clouds.

Multi-cloud is also used to distribute applications and services to the edge. In industries such as logistics, retail and manufacturing, improvements in automation, efficiency and customer experience require applications to be distributed to the edge, closer to physical devices and users. The diversification of CSPs serves to optimize IT infrastructure performance, resilience, cost, and compliance. These gains benefit media streaming services, financial institutions, technology startups and more.

Multi-cloud supports the rise of the distributed workforce—the new reality for most enterprises. Securing and managing remote users and their devices, as well as empowering them to be productive from anywhere, is a challenge that requires a more flexible IT architecture.

Benefits of Multi-Cloud Architecture

To meet business needs across the application portfolio, a single cloud may not suffice. By architecting for multi-cloud, organizations can match their applications to their best-fit environment, with the flexibility to build, deploy, and manage from the data center to the cloud to the edge.

Seven benefits of multi-cloud architecture:

  • Cost Optimization: Certain cloud providers may offer better pricing for services depending on usage patterns. Multi-cloud also provides greater flexibility in the implementation of infrastructure and applications, enabling organizations to exercise control over costs and optimize performance.
  • Redundancy: If one provider experiences an outage, critical workloads will be supported by another provider in the multi-cloud, ensuring high availability and reducing downtime.
  • Disaster Recovery: A multi-cloud setup can serve as an effective disaster recovery solution where data is replicated across different providers.
  • Geographic Distribution: Multi-cloud enables services and data to be hosted in numerous geographic regions, lowering latency for users across the globe.
  • Vendor Choice: A diversified cloud infrastructure means less chance of vendor lock-in, providing flexibility and negotiating power.
  • Security: Specific CSPs may also offer unique compliance with regulations, allowing organizations to select the cloud that meets their security needs.
  • Cloud Bursting: If demand for resources exceeds the capacity of one CSP, a multi-cloud architecture enables organizations to borrow resources from other clouds.

Best Practices for Managing a Multi-Cloud Architecture

Multi-cloud architecture can play a key role in helping your organization navigate application modernization across multi-cloud environments. But when not planned and managed well, moving to a multi-cloud solution can mean increased complexity, an uptick in resource costs, and a downturn in organizational efficiency.

To increase agility while minimizing costs and risk, focus on five overarching principles when architecting for multi-cloud:

  • Build in flexibility: Architect an environment that increases business agility by allowing each application to be deployed to the cloud that best meets its requirements.
  • Evolve without penalty: Architect an environment that lowers costs by supporting the ability to move applications between environments without refactoring.
  • Seek operational simplicity: Architect an environment that reduces complexity and improves security through the use of a unified operating model.
  • Fully optimize resources: Architect an environment that minimizes learning curves by providing high levels of skill leverage for both developers and IT operators.
  • Maximize automation investments: Architect an environment that supports the ability to scale up automation across the full scope of operations.

VMware Multi-Cloud Architecture

Getting to the ideal state —with consistent management and operations across any cloud—requires a rethink of how platforms are architected. Today public clouds exist as vertically integrated silos with little support for interoperability between different cloud environments. What is needed is an approach that abstracts the differences between clouds by providing a set of horizontal capabilities that help unify cross cloud operations while at the same time providing access to the unique and innovative portfolio of cloud services delivered by each cloud provider. VMware’s unique architectural approach provides a single platform that can function across all application types and multiple cloud environments.

  • VMware Tanzu™ products and services deliver a broad set of capabilities that help organizations build, run, and manage modern apps on any cloud.
  • VMware is the only vendor that gives organizations the option of running a common software cloud stack in the data center, across thousands of managed service provider partners, and across all major hyper-scaler clouds.
  • Organizations can easily migrate a traditional application running in the data center to any public cloud and then modernize it or continue to run it “as is” depending on business requirements.
  • VMware supports a consistent approach to operations management that helps to optimize and automate resources across the data center, across thousands of managed service providers, and across all major hyper-scaler clouds.

Take control of your multi-cloud environment and manage the complexities of cloud-based architectures, each with their own rules and requirements, with VMware Cross-Cloud Services.


Related Solutions and Products

VMware Cross-Cloud Services

A portfolio of cloud services that deliver standardized ways to build, operate, secure, and access applications on any cloud.

Take Control of Your Multi-Cloud Environment

73% of enterprises today use two or more clouds, and a multi-cloud strategy is key to staying competitive.* But to get full value from an architecture that spans on-prem, public clouds and the edge, you need a trusted partner.

Enterprises Find Multi-Cloud Strategies Critical for Success

Even so, our research with 2,258 organizations shows that many struggle with multi-cloud.