If you ask many companies they may not think about their data being multi-cloud. The thinking is more about their application estate.
On pressing you will be told that they may have windows filers, have a NAS or SAN, perhaps are using object storage either on-premises or on-cloud with something like Amazon S3, use email, perhaps outsourced to someone like Google, which also provide their employees with a cloud drive, are using a cloud based CRM such as Salesforce and perhaps a raft of other cloud based Apps that have file storing capabilities.
Congratulations, that is what a multi-cloud data company looks like in 2019 !
In simplest terms multi-cloud can be defined as using more than one cloud service across a company. I will widen the definition to also encapsulate the concept of ‘hybrid’ to encompass data stored on-premises (and perhaps other private data infrastructure).
Gartner estimates the multi-cloud market size to be worth approximately $240 billion in 2019. Multi-Cloud is a large and growing market.
Clearly most companies did not set out to store data in this multi-cloud manner. Cloud, innovation, costs, management simplicity and other factors have led them down this route, but nevertheless this is the status for many companies, both large and small, today.
So what are the challenges that companies face in this multi-cloud world ?
The first challenge is the data itself. Data Silos are being created across cloud based applications such as Office 365, Google Drive, etc (and you would be surprised how many companies are using more than one of these solutions across departments). This itself creates additional problems as the cloud data itself becomes siloed or ‘cut off’ from similar data that may be stored on site, causing data integrity issues.
Companies also have to cope with increasing compliance legislation, be it HIPPA, the European GDPR or other geographic legislature such as Australia’s mandatory data breach laws. Compliance is growing, and quickly, as outdated legislation catches up with the digital age.
This spread of of multi-cloud data makes it difficult for companies to create unified policies across all their data, maintain security, and ensure compliance as they have no single place to manage overall policies.
There are also challenges around data visibility. With data residing on separate silos, both private and public cloud, being able to search against the entire company dataset becomes problematic, if not completely impossible. How does a multi-cloud company have a single source of truth for their entire enterprise data set ?
The solution is to have a unified data layer which creates a single organisational view of data, drives operational efficiency through a unified search and management interface, and provides an entry point into data governance and compliance that can be consistently applied across these dispersed data sets.
This data layer crosses old world boundaries (NAS, SAN, Filers), and new world boundaries (Cloud, Object Storage) simultaneously, in real time, enabling a soup to nuts strategy for corporate data.
This is the very reason that I created the Enterprise File Fabric. The vision was to address multi-cloud challenges around data silos to provide a comprehensive joined up view of data, that gave the control of data spread across silos back to a company.
A company’s data is its biggest asset, and it is the easiest thing for company to lose control over. With the tightening of compliance legislation and the number of data breaches going up data that can cost a company a lot of money, either directly through legislative compliance fines, and/or through reputational damage.
Multi-cloud is both a blessing and a curse and as multicloud continues to be embraced company’s needs to keep a tight grip on the control of their dispersed data assets.