Over the past decade, many startups have been tricked by the myth that one cloud provider can cover all of their needs. It’s something that’s left startups having to pay unanticipated fees and having sub-optimal processes. But there is another way – the multi cloud. Here, with insights from Scaleway, we look at how it can supercharge your startup.
The myth that startups can grow with just one cloud provider has plagued the ecosystem for a while now. It came about with generous bait – providers offering the likes of 6-figure cloud credits, which promised to provide cash-strapped teams with the initial infrastructure they needed to set up their business. Whilst these credits may seem tempting, and free at first, their true nature is revealed if the startup tries to leave. Certain providers ask them to pay egress fees, often amounting to a similar value as the initial cloud credits received. It leaves startups trapped.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Such fees are no longer inevitable. Firstly, not all cloud providers charge. Secondly, 80% of cloud client needs are covered by just 20% of the products offered by most providers. Therefore, there’s potential for mobility between clouds.
The coast is now clear for a better approach – the multi cloud.
Introducing the multi cloud
Ask a dozen people to describe the multi cloud and you’ll probably get as many answers back. For some, it’s a particular type of tech setup and for others, it’s a philosophy. It’s commonly described as:
- A mix of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise hosting (a.k.a. “hybrid cloud”)
- Having some data with one cloud provider and some with others
- Replicating the same data across several providers
- Or simply having the freedom to move from one provider to another without incurring substantial costs
For many, the multi cloud offers a pathway towards a more efficient architecture, making use of an otherwise unavailable compilation of products and services from various cloud providers. One principle component to the multi cloud is choice. It provides the choice to leave, move between and combine cloud services from various vendors.
Today, this choice matters more than ever.
Why the multi cloud is important for startups
Cloud services have evolved rapidly over the past decade and so have their scale, complexity, and impact. No single vendor can meet every technical and non-technical need of clients. Further, with digital comprehension increasingly permeating public discourse, the social and environmental impacts of cloud computing are coming under increased scrutiny.
The multi cloud is not just about avoiding having to pay astronomical fees to leave a cloud provider, it’s also about data sovereignty, technical flexibility, sustainability, and abandoning anti-competitive practices that have no place in a massively growing sector that has clearly expressed its preference for a multi-cloud approach.
So, here we have put together 4 key reasons the multi cloud matters more to your startup than you might think.
- Data sovereignty
- Freedom of choice
- Technical flexibility
Data stored in the servers of US-based tech companies can be accessed by US intelligence agencies, regardless of data storage locations (CLOUD Act, 2018). This means that data hosted by three of the world’s biggest cloud providers can be seen by the US government, even if the data center itself is on foreign soil.
Doctolib – a doctor-booking platform notably tapped by the French government to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations online – found itself a subject of controversy recently, as it uses a US cloud provider, potentially making French citizens’ sensitive medical information accessible to the US government. Meanwhile, other companies such as Familink and LockSelf have switched from US to European CSPs to meet the demands of privacy-concerned clients, and to maintain the highest possible standards of data security.
Accordingly, with data protectionism on the rise not only in the corridors of European institutions but also among the broader global population, having a different cloud provider depending on where your clients are can potentially unlock more business.
With the cloud’s carbon footprint eclipsing that of aviation, it’s no surprise the sector is under increased pressure to do its part in combating climate change. Fortunately, such trends as increased data center efficiency, equipment reuse, and energy-efficient products, among other things, are paving the way towards a more sustainable industry.
Still, green data centers are far from ubiquitous. For startups struggling to make ends meet, technical and cost considerations take center stage, meaning sustainable hosting may be less of a priority.
With the multi cloud, it’s not an either-or. Working with several cloud providers makes it possible to have at least some of your data hosted in less ecologically-impactful data centers – an initiative that will resonate not only with customers, but with talent, too.
Freedom of choice
Be it due to cost or technical considerations, every CTO will at some point consider switching cloud providers. Even if you can stomach the gargantuan egress fees, the technical hurdles posed by lack of compatibility are not insignificant. Especially if the core DevOps team has been trained to work with a specific cloud provider.
Implementing a multi-cloud approach from day one will secure future flexibility of choice. Container and Serverless architectures are already taking the world by storm. Using them will help with any future partial or total switches between cloud providers, all while enabling broader access to an already-strained talent pool. This freedom of choice also means you can flexibly manage your infrastructure expenditure, so you don’t necessarily have to pay an arm and a leg… in particular for tech you don’t need.
Building a product is a discovery process – the end result is rarely what was originally envisioned, and getting there takes you through countless iterations. As your understanding of what’s required evolves, you might realize that the service that made you choose a particular cloud provider is ultimately unnecessary, or is done better by someone else.
This is a potential nightmare scenario when you’ve gone all-in on the single-cloud route. Whereas with a cloud-agnostic approach, it’s a headache at worst. The technical flexibility of the multi cloud allows you to take the best out of every player, and build constrained only by your imagination, rather than by the offerings of your vendor.
The multi cloud is on a rapid rise and looking to solidify itself as the status quo in the coming years. Currently, 76% of companies already use two or more cloud providers. So why put all your eggs in one basket, if you don’t have to?
Every cloud provider has its strengths and weaknesses, but you no longer have to compromise. Now more than ever, startups are free to choose!
Article by Pascal Condamine, VP of Startups at Scaleway. Find out more about how Scaleway works with startups here.
Scaleway is one of Europe’s most complete cloud ecosystems. Trusted by over 25k businesses, the company has been helping developers and businesses to build, deploy and scale applications to any infrastructure since 1999.
With fully managed offerings for bare metal, containerization and serverless architectures, Scaleway brings choice to the world of cloud computing, offering customers the ability to choose where their customer’s data resides, to choose what architecture works best for their business, and to choose a more responsible way to scale.