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Justify the costs of multicloud for higher availability

To keep users happy and ensure high availability, IT teams can implement a multicloud approach. First, though, they might need to sell the business on that strategy.

While multicloud computing can be a challenge to implement, that effort pays off with higher availability and reduced...

downtime risk.

First, consider the math. If you use an infrastructure-as-a-service public cloud provider that has an uptime ranking of .999, then you can expect an average of nine hours of outage time per year for that provider. To calculate this average, follow this equation: (365*24)*.999 – (365*24).

Then, consider how  cloud uptime will improve if you host your application and data in similar, but redundant, systems with an additional public cloud provider. These redundant applications and data are exact, up-to-date copies of the primary cloud-based applications that you can failover to.

The cost of higher availability with multicloud

Enterprises have used redundant systems for years, even before cloud, to prevent downtime. But to reduce your downtime even further -- potentially even to zero -- adopt an active-active redundancy strategy with multicloud.

In addition to higher availability, this type of redundancy can be cost-effective in the long run. For example, while your primary cloud provider will bill you for full usage, your secondary provider will bill you only to keep the server and storage instances online and ready.

But there are other costs to consider. To set up active-active redundancy in multicloud, as well as maintain two cloud-based redundant systems, organizations need to spend about 20%  more time on planning, implementation and operations compared to working with a single public cloud provider. This is due to a few core items. First, you need to maintain two sets of skills, such as those related to Azure and Amazon Web Services, to deal with the cloud-native services on each of those platforms. Second, you might not qualify for any volume discounts with a particular provider, since you won't use one cloud platform exclusively. Finally, there's the general added overhead of dealing with two public cloud companies -- ranging from accounts payable processes to price negotiations

Additionally, you need employees to operate the active-active cloud systems, which can increase costs.

Emphasize the effects of downtime

While there are costs associated with this active-active approach, IT teams can justify these costs if they emphasize the business value it brings.

For example, teams can break down the costs -- both hard and soft -- that downtime causes. The hard costs, such as lost sales and productivity, are easy to define. For most of the Global 2000 business, downtime can cost several million dollars an hour and, for banks, up to several million dollars per minute.

Soft costs, such as customer dissatisfaction and employee morale, are more difficult to define. However, these issues typically run much higher than the hard costs, since they are not easy problems to solve.

Use these costs to justify a higher availability system multicloud. However, company size matters. Small- to medium-sized businesses don't typically suffer the same monetary loss from outages compared to large enterprises. This is because, in many cases, a small business can easily fall back to manual processes -- which means a redundant multicloud architecture might not be a cost-effective choice in the long term.

Next Steps

Learn how to avoid high traffic costs in multicloud

Evaluate potential providers for multicloud

Lessons to learn before hybrid cloud adoption

This was last published in July 2017

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