Why your cloud strategy should include multiple vendors

For decades, enterprise computing environments have been composed of servers, storage and networking equipment developed by different vendors. Those choices often hinged on the best products to power applications and data — as well as the enticing volume discounts tossed into enterprise agreements. A similar scenario is playing out in cloud computing infrastructure, where CIOs are grappling with how to best architect systems for multi-vendor, hybrid cloud strategies.

A telling exchange on cloud vendors occurred during the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Network event last month when an audience member shared his perspective on the challenges of choosing between different cloud vendors with Adrian Cockcroft, vice president of cloud architecture strategy for Amazon Web Services (AWS), who was speaking on stage.

The executive – whose organization had begun using AWS — said splitting computing workloads between vendors is an essential hedge against selecting a vendor that could elect to turn off services without notice. Cockcroft suggested an enterprise agreement prohibits such actions and noted that committing resources to multiple cloud platforms is resource-intensive and costly.

“If you go for a 50/50 split and use lowest common denominator, you’re really hobbling yourself,” Cockcroft said. “You’ll go more slowly, because you’re having to train your people twice. You’re cutting your ability to get a volume discount in half, so you don’t get as good pricing because you’ve got two vendors there. What we’re seeing is that predominantly you want to pick one vendor and maximize that footprint.”

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