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This article will discuss the trend of moving toward a multi-cloud deployment to support BI and CPM solutions, as well as other business processes.
In the world of business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM), sometimes it feels like technology has been moving at a rapid pace, and other times, it might feel like everything has sped up all of a sudden. And both can be true. Technology innovation has arguably been picking up speed, building a momentum that can sometimes increase exponentially as certain breakthroughs lay the groundwork for the next scaffolding to go up – and so forth. Cloud computing is one of those breakthroughs that continues to add to their options in developments that seem to come both organically and rapidly. One of the relatively more recent business culture developments involves multi-cloud deployments. This article will zoom in on what multi-cloud deployments are and do, as well as what they can do for BI and CPM processes.

There are several buzzwords and jargon related to cloud deployments. One of my favorites, as a word person, is “failover.” Techopedia defines failover as “the constant capability to automatically and seamlessly switch to a highly reliable backup. This can be operated in a redundant manner or in a standby operational mode upon the failure of a primary server, application, system or other primary system component. The main purpose of failover is to eliminate, or at least reduce, the impact on users when a system failure occurs.” Now, failover isn’t specific to cloud computing, but in that context, a multi-cloud deployment offers failover in terms of relying on a second cloud server in the case of system failures. But let’s define multi-cloud deployments first.
The term “multi-cloud deployment” might be self-explanatory as it means what it sounds like: the simultaneous utilization of two or more cloud computing systems. While hybrid cloud deployment refers to using both a public cloud and a private cloud hosting on-premises solutions, multi-cloud means that you’re relying on more than one cloud service provider. Multi-cloud deployments provide redundancy of system support in instances of hardware or software failures, but also help the consumer to avoid “vendor lock-in,” which is another buzzword in the context of cloud computing.
The two main drivers for a multi-cloud deployment have been identified: a back-up plan and avoiding vendor lock-in. Having a back-up cloud provider when your frontline cloud experiences an outage may seem like commonsense, especially when you consider how that can occur. Cloud platform issues range from a single cable connector failure to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), or from natural disasters to acts of cyberwarfare, which we’ve seen increase recently, at least in the political sphere. You can also experience a large-scale network outage with a single hard disk/drive unit failure if that malfunction happens at a critical point in the system, like a host computer. Therefore, a cloud backup for your main cloud computing platform makes sense.  But what about vendor lock-in?
With cloud computing being relatively new, but also seemingly the only path forward, consumers are ready. That said, there is this concern that there’s a tradeoff for the benefits of modern, hosted, and managed computing, and that feels like a lack of control. Enter the term “vendor lock-in.” Even with the scalability and scope that a public cloud provider can deliver, being locked in with a specific vendor means that you’re bound to particular protocols, standards, and tools of your selected cloud vendor. This could be expensive later if you decide to migrate to another provider. On top of that, some cloud providers are going to be more suited or even exclusively offered to support specific applications. For example, you might want Microsoft Azure to host Power BI and other Microsoft-friendly BI or CPM tools. However, if you’re interested in big data solutions, you might opt for Amazon Web Services or Google’s cloud because they might be built to handle that better. Additionally, you might want to keep some more sensitive/critical information or systems on a private cloud behind a firewall. Regardless, as your systems are likely quite diverse, it probably makes sense to consider diversifying your cloud experience – for safety and for consumer preferences in regard to vendor lock-in. But how does it all work?
A multi-cloud deployment can be challenging, considering you’re working across distinct cloud environments from different vendors. The complexity of disparate technologies, interfaces, services, and terminology because there is no standardization across vendors makes it difficult to smoothly move between them.  There’s also the interoperability aspect – or lack thereof – to consider. Generally, you are going to have to use workarounds or APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to make your CPM or BI solution’s configuration work on different platforms and cloud. There are specialized tools, like a cloud management platform (CMP) that is a suite of integrated tools that provide automated management of private and public clouds, which can be used to create a seamless multi-cloud deployment.  But multi-cloud does require a higher level of expertise in figuring out what to move to the cloud – and where, when, and why. This involves a likely increase in overall management overhead, whether you’re investing in VPN connections or just monitoring. Simply, the implementation of different platforms requires more diversified expertise. Furthermore, the diversity of the cloud environments prove difficult when it comes to understanding the pricing differentiators among all of the cloud providers and the services they offer.
Multi-cloud deployments are becoming an important consideration in terms of cloud approach as most businesses are planning to move to the cloud as a platform in the next couple of years, if they’re not already there. There is a lot to think about, and it will be important to include all of your technology and business workflow stakeholders in the planning process. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based budgeting and reporting solution that enables collaboration, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI experience.

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