85% of companies now operating in a multi-cloud environment

Organisations are embracing the use of multiple clouds, but formal management is lagging

Illustration of a code cloud raining over a city

The rapid expansion of cloud-based services and a wealth of choice around the cloud has resulted in more competition than ever before. Increasingly, organisations are now choosing to mix and match cloud solutions, rather than choose between multiple technologies and vendors.

Using more than one cloud service this way is known as multi-cloud; not to be confused with hybrid cloud, which is using both public and private clouds in a business. 

The use of multiple clouds for businesses is growing in popularity and according to a survey from IBM, 85% of organisations are now using multiple clouds in their business. 

To complicate things, the majority of these environments are made up of multiple hybrid clouds. 76% of the organisations surveyed reported that they were already using from two to 15 hybrid clouds.

It is also important to note that this only includes the clouds that IT executives are aware of. Shadow IT and cloud services used without official authorisation are a growing issue and mean the actual number of clouds used in businesses may be higher than the IT department reports.

Over the next three years, IBM forecasts that the number of companies using multiple clouds will grow to 98%. At present, however just 41% of these businesses have an active multi-cloud strategy, meaning many are managing multiple clouds on the fly as services are added on. This can put departments at risk of cloud sprawl, where fast and unchecked cloud adoption can cause issues with security and compliance.

Of the organisations operating in a multi-cloud environment, IBM's survey found that just under half were establishing a formal multi-cloud architecture in order to enable a more unified management of cloud services. 

Use of formal procedures and tools to operate a multi-cloud environment is also low, but growing. Configuration management tools and multi-cloud management platforms are growing in popularity among enterprises in particular as a way to choreograph workloads and fully embrace the benefits of multiple clouds.

But multi-cloud isn't just something enterprises can make use of. Many consumers use multiple cloud services in everyday life, and many businesses do so without necessarily realising it. 

Although formal multi-cloud management may be lagging behind adoption, the unlimited choice and flexibility that organisations get with their cloud deployments are proving particularly beneficial to digital transformation efforts.

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