Instead, the government are discovering that a mix of private, public, hybrid and community cloud from a range of providers is needed to unlock the potential for greater efficiencies, flexibility and cost savings. But managing a multi-provider strategy presents a number of challenges, including interoperability, managing provider ‘lock-in’, complex billing structures, and cross platform migrations.

Converting virtual machines, and moving applications and data is the easy part of the challenge when it comes to working with several vendors; the true challenge is deploying and managing the workloads using differing APIs or new operational management tooling.

Most IT decision makers see flexibility and interoperability as the capability to run or move a workload wherever they choose, whether it be the public cloud, a private data centre or to a new vendor of their choosing.

If you are looking to work with a number of providers, here’s some tips on how to make a multi-provider cloud strategy work:

  • Ideally you want as few variables in the architecture as possible because the greater the variation the more costly automation becomes at scale
  • Is there a common API that spans all possible cloud deployment scenarios to enable you to easily move workloads back to one of your data centres, or to another outsourced provider?
  • Consider whether you need to achieve seamless third party integration, irrespective of where the workload is deployed
  • Historically proprietary service provider tools have created management silos that drive up total cost of ownership whilst increasing provider lock-in.  How will you strategically think about your management?

Memset’s approach is to use OpenStack which is a de-facto standard Open Source "Cloud Operating System" that is supported by thousands of cloud providers, outsourcers, partners, end user organisations, and ecosystem vendors world-wide.  This enables customers to choose how they will integrate and manage services, while giving them the ability to adapt to meet their future requirements.

The G-Cloud Digital Marketplace – which has enabled public sector organisations to choose cloud providers by the project depending upon prices or services is gaining momentum and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see an increase in the number of cloud brokers being accepted onto the framework. The need to use multiple cloud service providers will spur fast adoption of a cloud services brokerage model.