According to research released today, fears over vendor lock-in and the need to stay compliant with regulations are topping the reasons for multi-cloud adoption.

There are many technical motives for why a company might adopt a multi-cloud approach rather than throwing all their eggs into one vendor’s basket, not least of which is operational resilience should something go wrong.

However, the research sponsored by Cockroach Labs points to business needs trumping technical reasons for adoption. Worries about cloud vendor lock-in and regulatory constraints topped the list of drivers at 41 and 42 percent respectively with resilience trailing at 32 percent.

The UK dragged down the resilience score, with just 26 percent listing it as reason, compared to 46 percent of UK respondents choosing regulatory compliance as a reason for adopting multi-cloud.

Regulatory compliance might seem a surprising leading reason, but all companies that operate in Europe – including US and UK ones – must comply with the EU’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA). DORA is pitched squarely at financial institutions and calls for digital resilience. As such, considering a multi-cloud approach is a business necessity rather than a technical nice-to-have.

DORA is due to hit from January 17, 2025. The report’s authors noted: “Across all three countries we surveyed, most companies that are planning or preparing for DORA already are making multi-cloud a part of their plans.”

DORA does indeed loom large in the thinking of respondents from the UK and Germany, with only the US recording responses to the effect that no to little impact is expected.

For US respondents, avoiding vendor lock-in is a particularly large concern and driver towards multi-cloud. However, the researchers note a trend whereby the focus is on a single cloud vendor with a few specific services run elsewhere. This means retraining should the prmary cloud vendor be changed, but doing so is far from easy.

You gotta have leverage

A third reason is simple leverage in cloud negotiations, cited by 38 percent of respondents in the survey. The report authors weren’t sure how worried cloud vendors would be by the threat of a customer walking away – after all, migration is no small feat and costs both time and money. The authors observed: “CSPs know this, and know the savings offered by the second cloud would have to be quite significant for the threat to be credible.”

The report also higlights barriers to multi-cloud adoption, not least the peculiarities of each cloud vendor and their approaches to privacy and regulations – a particular issue in regions where sovereignty is a factor. Hiring specialists for multiple clouds also appears to be an issue – 48 percent of respondents in the UK found it a challenge, compared to 33 percent in Germany.

The takeaway is that while multi-cloud is growing, it can be challenging. The charge is coming more for business reasons than technical and thought needs to be given with regard to why a multi-cloud approach is right for a given scenario. The report notes: “Savvy companies that can leverage the right tools and approaches to adopt multi-cloud without introducing too much complexity will continue to profit from multi-cloud.”

And those that jump on the hype-wagon without thinking too hard about their business need could well come unstuck.

The backdrop to this research is investigations on both sides of the Atlantic into the health of the cloud industry, and whether customers are getting a fair deal. The CMA is closely inspecting aspects, including discounted pricing and egress fees, and the Federal Trade Commission is itself dealing with a complaint from Google about anti-competitive behavior from Microsoft. ®

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