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Cognitive Computing Set to Exceed $13B by 2020

  • Technology

Artificial Intelligence

 

A new industry analysis forecasts cognitive computing to have revenues of nearly $14B by the end of the decade. What exactly is cognitive computing, and why is it becoming such a prominent computing approach?

  • What is Cognitive Computing?
  • Why is Cognitive Computing Becoming so Prevalent?
  • Automated Reasoning to Grow at 37% Annually
  • North America the Largest Cognitive Computing Region
  • Summary: Key Research Highlights

A study by industry analyst Allied Market Research (AMR) projects that the cognitive computing market will hit $13.7 billion in global revenue by 2020, meaning that its CAGR between 2015 and 2020 would be a stunning 33.1%.

What is Cognitive Computing?

As its name suggests, cognitive computing is a subset of artificial intelligence. It is a form of computing that simulates aspects of the human mind. Systems are designed so that they are capable of learning. Specific methods that are used in these settings include natural language processing, data mining, and pattern recognition. The objective of this form of computing is to allow IT automation to problem-solve without the need for human intervention.

Machine learning algorithms are set up to allow these systems to work, explains Margaret Rouse in TechTarget. “Such systems continually acquire knowledge from the data fed into them by mining data for information,” she says. “The systems refine the way they look for patterns… as well as the way they process data so they become capable of anticipating new problems and modeling possible solutions.”

This IT area is used to perform artificial intelligence within virtual reality, robotics, neural networks, natural language coding, and expert systems.

Why is Cognitive Computing Becoming so Prevalent?

The broad recognition and adoption of this AI field has been in line with other aspects of the third-platform technological revolution (cloud, mobile, big data, and social). Cognitive computing has been spurred by the rapid growth of cloud hosting, big data, and the prioritization of speed.

Related: At Superb Internet, we designed and developed our cloud hosting infrastructure over the course of six years. The tens of thousands of hours we put into research, testing, and troubleshooting resulted in a true 100% high-availability cloud. See our Cloud Benchmark Report.

“Cognitive analytics have optimum capabilities in handling huge volumes of data and facilitate the quick transitioning of manufacturing footprints and technologies,” notes AMR. “The increasing adoption of cognitive computing in business applications has led to significant improvements in the productivity and standard of operations in numerous organizations.”

Automated Reasoning to Grow at 37% Annually

To understand the cognitive computing market, the report by AMR segments the field into technology, applications, end users, and modes of deployment. Technology is subdivided into information retrieval, automated reasoning, machine learning, and natural language processing. The applications are subdivided into various industries, such as healthcare, security, and BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance). The end users are categorized as sizes of businesses: SMBs and enterprises. Modes of deployment are public cloud and on-site infrastructure.

The top form of technology in 2014 was natural language processing. It represents the lion’s share of the market with 40%, or 2 out of every 5 dollars spent, and will continue to be the biggest money-maker moving forward. However, there is another huge chunk as well: machine learning, which represents 30%. Automated reasoning is currently smaller but is expected to grow at a 37% CAGR during the forecast period; computational biology is a primary application for that segment.

In terms of applications, the two top industries are healthcare and BFSI. Healthcare alone accounted for $745.1 million in revenue in 2014, which was approximately 30% of the market. According to AMR, “[t]he growth in the segment is driven by medical imaging technology,” such as “the ability of cognitive analytics to help physicians and nurses in analyzing mammogram images and detecting suspicious areas that indicate potential abnormalities.”

North America the Largest Cognitive Computing Region

The global region that has the most early-adoption of cognitive computing apps is North America. Measuring $1.06 billion in 2014, the continent is projected to continue as the leading region through the end of the decade. Europe is second. Also, Asia-Pacific will likely be a big market because of fast cloud growth in the region’s SMEs.

Companies such as Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte primarily use cognitive computing internally, for employee training and to increase workplace efficiency. Within healthcare, the computing method is used to glean a better understanding from health records.

Summary: Key Research Highlights

In summary, here are five top findings of the cognitive computing study:

  • Growth will accelerate due to expansion of unorganized big data within healthcare, finance, security, and IT/telecommunications.
  • The highest-revenue technology is natural language processing.
  • Highest adoption through 2020 will be in healthcare, retail, and finance/insurance.
  • The top region for these applications is North America, with 41.6% of worldwide revenue in 2014.
  • “Asia-Pacific and LAMEA are expected to be the most lucrative markets in terms of growth,” reports AMR, “owing to the developments in the healthcare and the insurance sector along with the growing adoption of advanced technologies.”

Modernizing and Consolidating Your Data Center: Tips from Gartner

  • Data Centers

Datacenter

Modernizing a data center means that a company has to reconsider its business plan both operationally and organizationally in response to shifts in the economy and developments in computing. With this report, based largely off advice from Gartner, you can work toward cutting your costs and becoming more flexible while pursuing your business objectives.

  • The CIO Perspective: 5-Point Checklist
  • IT Director Perspective: 8-Point Checklist
  • IT Pro Perspective: 9-Point Checklist
  • Organizational Perspective: 5-Point Checklist

By modernizing and consolidating your data center, you can adopt greater agility and streamline your expenses – effectively giving yourself a better market position. You can make your firm more flexible and better suited to serve an increasingly mobile staff. By adopting the methods listed below, you should be able to cut your yearly operating expenses by at least 10%.

The CIO Perspective: 5-Point Checklist

CIOs should look at the requirements of the organization, the shape of the economy, and technological factors as they think about their plan for data center modernization and consolidation. Here is a basic five-point checklist to ready yourself for this effort:

  1. Review the company’s infrastructure. What could be improved?
  2. Think about how you can trim costs with your servers, storage, and network.
  3. Ask everyone who will be involved in this project to be forthright about any political concerns that could make it difficult to succeed.
  4. Increase your awareness of potentially game-changing technologies and approaches.
  5. Finally, look at your facilities themselves, advise Gartner analysts Mike Chuba and Matthew Brisse. “Map out the number and location of data centers,” they say. “Determine whether they should be stand-alone, colocated or outsourced.”

IT Director Perspective: 8-Point Checklist

IT directors must strike a balance between improving capacity and being careful not to overprovision space. Overprovisioning is, after all, a widespread problem and challenge, notes Sead Fadilpašić in ITProPortal. “[M]ore than three quarters (76 per cent) of IT pros overprovision IT infrastructure to save themselves capacity-related problems,” he says. “Capacity-related issues have had more than half (59 per cent) still experiencing downtime and service degradation, and in almost two thirds (61 per cent) of cases, IT staff is blamed for it.”

To address this challenge head-on, IT directors must create a thorough plan and cost-benefit analysis. Here is an eight-step checklist:

  1. Assess the infrastructure and meet with the CIO.
  2. Promote the importance of looking top-down from well-strategized infrastructure to all aspects of the business. Consider possible political snags.
  3. Look at how you could change infrastructure to create savings.
  4. Review newer strategies such as web-scale IT.
  5. Create a web-scale IT plan and collaborate with HR to move it forward.
  6. Review your data centers and decide if you think they should be standalone, colocated, or outsourced.
  7. Think about the impact modernizing might have on your systems.
  8. Do a full review of your vendors and technologies.

IT Pro Perspective: 9-Point Checklist

IT professionals understand that optimizing agility is increasingly necessary for businesses. In order not to be outpaced by competitors, organizations must look toward strategies such as virtualization, automation, software-defined anything, and cloud. Follow this ten-point checklist:

  1. Reconsider operational value. Think in terms of turnkey solutions. Get away from customizing excessively. Instead, use that time to collaborate with business units for better speed and security.
  2. Promote innovation. Create systems that facilitate access to innovations (either via traditional or cloud models).
  3. Embrace convergence. Integrate and connect services.
  4. Expedite assimilation. Get into a mindset of rapid-fire research and deployment of new technologies.
  5. Standardize. “Reduced complexity improves speed, agility and availability,” say Chuba and Brisse. “Worry less about lock-in and more about ways to accelerate orchestration and automation of IT tasks.”
  6. Focus on brokering. Take on the role of assessing technology and managing risk.
  7. Consolidate. Partner with business and IT leaders for business continuity.
  8. Review vendors and technologies. Look at infrastructure configurations, cost modeling, and performance.
  9. Use cloud. Figure out the best storage and app locations: public cloud, private cloud hosted internally, or colocated private cloud.

Related: At Superb Internet, our cloud hosting infrastructure is the result of a full six years of design and development, including tens of thousands of hours spent researching, testing, and troubleshooting. Get 100% high-availability cloud.

Organizational Perspective: 5-Point Checklist

Here are guiding principles to help the organization move forward with this project:

  1. Plan. Figure out how you can reduce your costs. Know how modernizing will impact other elements of your infrastructure. Calculate ROI.
  2. Craft a solution. Where should data centers be located, and how should they be configured? Consider colocation and outsourcing. Create a cloud plan. Update your business continuity plan.
  3. Select the pieces. Determine what technologies will best improve your agility, reliability, and energy-efficiency.
  4. Build. “Focus on design efficiency and an incremental build-out methodology,” say Chuba and Brisse. “Factor in density zones and multitiered designs.”
  5. Continue to adapt. Closely watch efficiency moving forward. Put a plan in place to continue consolidating servers and a policy for virtual server deployment so you don’t end up with virtual server sprawl.

Report: Hybrid Cloud Set for Absurd Growth Moving Forward

  • Cloud

Growth

 

Hybrid cloud is growing enormously, according to a new analysis. Let’s look at what exactly a hybrid cloud is, typical uses, and the research that shows it skyrocketing.

  • What Exactly is a Hybrid cCloud?
  • Typical Uses of this Cloud Type
  • Explosion of the Hybrid Approach
  • Understanding the Hybrid Cloud Market
  • Where is this Model Growing Fastest?

What Exactly is a Hybrid Cloud?

A hybrid cloud is an integration of a private cloud established in a business’s own data center with a public cloud run through a hosting provider’s data center. This strategy allows the company to shift tasks between the two environments based on price and computing requirements. Essentially, it creates a more adaptive infrastructure. An enterprise might want to use the private cloud for highly sensitive or mission-critical data, while it uses the public cloud for R&D projects, for instance.

Typical Uses of this Cloud Type

A hybrid of public and private is often used by companies that are working within various verticals. It is also common for companies with workloads that see huge shifts in activity, explains Stephen J. Bigelow in TechTarget. “For example, a transactional order entry system that experiences significant demand spikes around the holiday season is a good hybrid cloud candidate,” he says. “The application could run in private cloud, but use cloud bursting to access additional computing resources from a public cloud when computing demands spike.”

Related: Of course, companies want to make sure that their hybrid cloud incorporates a strong public component. At Superb Internet, we use distributed rather than centralized storage for no bottlenecks and ultra-fast reads and writes, and InfiniBand for dozens of times lower latency than the theoretical minimum of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Get guaranteed cloud hosting.

Explosion of the Hybrid Approach

Astronomical growth of public and private cloud deployments has, in turn, accelerated the adoption of the hybrid model. In fact, more than 81% of enterprises say that they will have a hybrid system implemented by 2017, while half of large enterprises will have adopted the IT strategy by 2018. Globally, the market is forecast to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.3% between 2016 and 2022, when it will reach $241.13 billion.

The increasing popularity of hybrid cloud both among SMBs and within powerful business segments is fueling its general ascent. Over 30% of the vertical market share is within manufacturing, while 11% of it is within telecommunications and IT. Regardless of all this growth, Infoholic Research notes that this version of cloud should still be considered in the early phase of adoption.

The companies and enterprises that are implementing these clouds are able to keep whatever systems private as needed but also benefit from the pay-per-use price structure of public cloud. “In addition to that,” notes Infoholic Research, “the hybrid cloud provides a significant opportunity for cost savings by shutting down unused workloads and by helping to select lower-cost clouds based on [requirements].”

Understanding the Hybrid Cloud Mmarket

The hybrid market can be understood by looking at it from four different angles: regions, solutions, service models, and verticals. An application that is served through a hybrid cloud allows for strict control over how workloads are deployed with regard to support in different locations (as with a company that has its infrastructure in the United States and its developers in Europe).

Looking at the solutions piece, it includes management systems, network integration, and app architecture. “The application architecture model helps to enhance business value and at the same time reduces the risks involved in the transitional process,” says Infoholic. “It further helps to reduce operational cost in the long run by automating different deployment models.”

In terms of verticals, as indicated above, the largest are manufacturing and telecom/IT. Those two industries alone will account for $8.97 billion in hybrid growth in 2016, says Infoholic.

Why is manufacturing adopting hybrid cloud so aggressively? It allows them to make their operations more efficient, cut their expenses, and get broad accessibility while at the same time meeting the security requirements they need for different systems. Telecom and IT like hybrid because they want real-time automation for better productivity and cost-reduction, while being able to work remotely and collaboratively through a seamlessly connected virtual office.

“Organizations are also adopting hybrid cloud management tools and tools that supports process automation, innovation and help in reducing complexity,” says Infoholic, “while maintaining and automating governance and compliance policies.”

The revenue for hybrid management systems is projected to increase from $10.78 billion to $24.18 billion between 2016 and 2019. The market for these systems will have quadrupled in just six years, by 2022.

Where is this Model Growing Fastest?

The top three regions worldwide for hybrid cloud are as follows, in order: North America, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific.

The adoption in North America should triple between 2016 and 2019, says Infoholic. Asia-Pacific is also growing at an incredible clip in this category, with 70% of businesses there planning to adopt hybrid by 2018.

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Reviews – Not the Eating

  • General

Why Online Customer Reviews Matter

Every business owner understands the significance of online customer reviews and the impact it can have on sales and revenues. With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, getting online reviews has never been easier, especially when many regions around the world are already using the Internet.

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According to Internet World Stats, there are 3,611,375,813 Internet users around the world as of June 30, 2016. Because of this, online customer reviews have become a vital component of businesses and are considered by many as a form of “social proof” where people take the word of others as proof that a particular product or service is valuable and worth getting.

When a potential customer conducts online research about a product or service from a business with many great reviews, it makes it much easier for them to not only trust the company but also purchase those goods because of the social proof shared online.

survey

On the contrary, businesses with a shortage of great reviews don’t get the benefit of the doubt from potential customers. Worse yet, having zero reviews is just as detrimental as having negative reviews.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that every business owner do their best to get their existing customers to share their reviews online as a form of social proof for potential customers.

Ask and You Shall Receive

If you’re new to getting reviews, it may seem a bit awkward to ask customers to assess your business and share their opinions online about the products or services purchased. But don’t let that stop you. Like the old adage goes, “ask and you shall receive.”

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So instead of feeling hesitant, you need to just simply ask your customers to leave a review. In parallel, you must also train your staff to make it a point to ask customers for a review as part of their regular routine. Doing so will go a long way and you’ll find that customers are more likely to actually review your business than if you were to leave it solely up to them.

Let Us Help You Get a Running Start

If you’re new to this and are not sure where to begin, we can help you get a running start.

Follow these helpful tips to simplify the customer review process and get the glowing reviews you’ve always wanted.

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1. Help Them Help You

No one wants to spend time searching for ways to leave your business a review, especially when they don’t have to. Therefore, you should make it extremely easy to leave reviews for your business by streamlining the entire process.

To do so, you can add a URL on your webpage that links to popular review sites so that customers will only need about a minute to complete a simple review. Or vice versa, you can add a link to your business profile on popular sites to get reviews – we recommend doing both!

Here are some popular online review sites to choose from:

2. Get Social Proof with Social Media

Using social media platforms is a no brainer when it comes to getting social proof for your business. Whether you’re a small, or large company, every business must use social media as part of their marketing strategy to not only promote their business but also to get customer reviews. Start with these sites and you’ll get social proof in no time at all:

3. Online Business Directories Are Your Friend

Online business directories is another great place to start when looking to build your online presence. Once your business is setup with these directories, you can check the reviews periodically, and of course, respond to them in a timely manner:

4. Use Surveys and Get More Reviews

Believe it or not, surveys are still used by millions of businesses and it’s still an effective way to see how your business is doing. And although you can still conduct surveys via phone, we prefer using other online methods for ease and convenience.

Calling customers at inconvenient times hoping that they’ll complete your survey is a thing of the past. Nowadays, it’s much easier to send out online surveys so customers can complete them at their leisure. Here are some of the more popular survey sites to choose from:

We recommend keeping your surveys short and simple. Ask customers how they feel about their latest experience with your business. Make sure to include a section for them to rate your company based on a star scale from 1-5, or have them rate your company as “Poor, Fair, Good, or Excellent.”

5. If All Else Fails – Give Incentives!

If you’ve tried everything listed above and you’re still not getting the amount of reviews that you want, then it’s time to start thinking about rewarding your customers for their opinions.

To incentivize customers for their reviews, you can entice them with the following:

  • Give discounts on products or services offered
  • Provide samples of goods for their testimonials
  • Hold a contest – customers who leave a review is automatically entered into the contest

*Note: Incentives are meant to reward your customers for taking the time to complete a review of your business and it should NOT be construed as a bribe.

*Disclaimer: Make sure that the website(s) that you’re offering customers incentives on ALLOW for this type of activity since some sites restrict this effort – read their rules, terms & conditions first before providing any incentives to customers for their reviews!!!

Tips to Remember When Responding

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When the reviews come pouring in, there are certain things to keep in mind when responding.

First, you must LISTEN to what your customers are saying – that’s the only way to improve on the products and services being offered.

Next, take ownership of the reviews, regardless if it’s ruthless and scathing. Ensure that you’re addressing the problem at hand. Don’t steer off course or avoid the concerns because you don’t want to deal with it. Do your best to be honest, helpful, professional, and polite.

Remember that responding to good reviews helps to reinforce positive customer experiences while replying to bad reviews helps to resolve customer concerns.

Keep your responses short, sweet, and simple. More importantly, humanize your responses so that it’s not generic and robotic. By doing so, it shows that your business is doing its best to get to know customers on a more personal level by engaging with them.

Last but not least, always says “thank you.” This action alone shows customers that you care about their feedback, honesty, and that you’re doing your best to address their concerns.

In today’s world, gaining customer reviews makes a big difference to a company’s top and bottom-line. Previously, companies had to give out samples of products and/or services in order for potential customers to determine if the goods were worth purchasing.

Nowadays, everyone with Internet access simply go online to look at reviews to determine if the business is trustworthy and that the goods being sold are of high-quality.

The better the reviews are, the more likely potential customers will purchase those products and/or services, hence why the proof of the pudding is actually in the reviews now and not the eating.

Following the tips above will go a long way in building customer rapport and you’ll also get a great reputation as a people-centric company. Only then will you get those glowing reviews you’ve always wanted!

_________________________________

We love it when our customers say awesome things about us, especially on social media and review sites. We would like to say thank you for all your support!!!

As a token of appreciation, we welcome our customers, including staff, to join our Advocates Program to reward you for your honesty and loyalty.

Follow the steps below to become an advocate today:

1. Log into the “myCP” homepage.

myCP

2. Go to the “Community” section and click on the “Advocates Program.”

community

3. Read the “Rules & Conditions” to our Advocates Rewards Program.

advocates program

rules & conditions

4. Agree to the “terms & conditions” and follow the three simple steps below to sign up.

agree

sign up

 

 

 

ROI: A Strong Argument for Government Data Center Upgrades

  • Data Centers

Data Center

When IT pros at the state and local levels want to win data center investments, it’s critical to show how the improvements will result in returns on investment.

  • Excellence Held Back by Aging Technology
  • Show Me the Money
  • Less Downtime & Maintenance
  • Prioritizing Security

Excellence Held Back by Aging Technology

Delta Diablo is a water resource recovery agency that serves 200,000 people in Northern California – residents of Antioch, Pittsburg, and Bay Point. Services it performs include wastewater treatment; production and distribution of recycled water; safeguarding against pollution; recovery of energy; biosolid reuse; street sweeping; and collection of residential hazardous waste. Its plant can process up to 19.5 million gallons of water per day.

Delta Diablo isn’t just any wastewater agency, though. It’s actually among the top 1 percent nationwide at what it does, according to the numerous Platinum Peak Performance Awards it’s received from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

The wastewater treatment operation often teams with outside public and private entities on projects. However, its data center has historically been standing in the way of such efforts.

“Our IT department is never 100 percent sure what’s coming down the pike in the next year,” explains the agency’s IT director, Chris Hanna. “We could sign a contract with an energy company for research and development, and we have to be ready for that.”

Delta Diablo’s hardware was simply getting old: the servers and storage appliances were 5 years old, while the switches and routers were 10 years old.

Related: At Superb Internet, our twenty-year history gives us the experience to handle the security and compliance needs of government agencies; and we have certifications to prove it. For example, our hosting infrastructure, IP backbone, and all operations are continuously audited under SSAE-16 SOC-1 Type II, ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 27001:2013 standards. Learn more.

Show Me the Money

Hanna didn’t want to upgrade Delta Diablo’s system piecemeal but all at once. To make his argument, he showed how it would be positive for the organization financially despite the cost upfront.

Hanna notes that getting the funds to completely upgrade the entire facility was challenging. Even though leadership is reasonable, they have to understand why it’s a smart way to invest.

Hanna’s proposal focused on three primary benefits of the refresh:

  1. Time to market for IT services would be improved.
  2. Reliability and business continuity would be boosted, doing away with downtime costs.
  3. Electricity expenses would be slashed by an incredible 80%.

Hanna is fully convinced himself that upgrading the hardware was a wise move for Delta Diablo. “The fact that we’ve built out this infrastructure allows us to get services to market faster,” he says. “When initiatives must be done quickly, we don’t have to worry about beefing up our infrastructure.”

IDC datacenter analyst Kelly Quinn agrees that investments in data centers often have strong ROI because you can reduce your energy and cooling costs while improving your availability.

It’s fairly straightforward to look at power savings, she says, but it can be more complicated to assign specific dollar amounts to other elements. You want to establish, as closely as possible, the expenses to the agency if mission-critical systems fail and how much more work can be achieved if latency is reduced.

You want to be able to say, explicitly, that you could avoid spending a certain dollar figure over the next five years if you make the refresh. A finance head will be more convinced to the extent you can turn soft, qualitative points into hard, quantitative data.

Less Downtime & Maintenance

A few years ago, Matthew Arvay was hired as the CIO of Virginia Beach, Virginia. At that time, there were four storage systems being used. Downtime occurred regularly. Maintenance costs were in the hundreds of thousands.

“We needed to reduce the complexity of the environment,” Arvay explains, noting that benefits of upgrading included “modernizing our data center, enhancing lifecycle management, enabling self-service provisioning and improving reliability, scalability and uptime.”

The refresh, which is currently underway, will slash the data center’s racks from 29 to 4, in turn saving the city tens of thousands on power costs. Reliability will be significantly improved; the expense of external maintenance will go down hundreds of thousands; and the man-hours dedicated to internal maintenance will be minimized.

Total savings are expected to be $675,185 per year. Plus, Virginia Beach won’t have to pay for a $1.2 million upgrade to its legacy storage hardware. Arvay estimates that the new system should pay itself off in less than four years, and the ROI after five years will be 25.2%.

Prioritizing Security

Texas Department of Information Resources data center chief Sally Ward believes it’s a good idea to upgrade one-fifth of your infrastructure annually, so that no pieces are ever more than five years old. While refreshes are costly, Ward says a strong argument is that they prevent security breaches. While non-IT leaders may not immediately agree with the expense, they certainly will if you get attacked and you suffer a painful data loss.

Ward says that she thinks agencies that don’t make regular data center refreshes are like people who don’t maintain their houses. “Had you stopped it in the beginning, before the roof was leaking, you probably could have done it more cheaply; [but] over time, you get to a place where you can’t afford the repairs,” she says.

Multi-Cloud: Arguments on Each Side & Successful Adoption

  • Cloud

Multi-Cloud

Many businesses are now deploying multi-cloud environments. Let’s look at what this approach is, pros and cons, and basic rules for adoption.

  • What is Multi-Cloud?
  • Popularity of this Approach
  • Arguments for Multi-Cloud
  • The Downsides
  • Management of Multi-Cloud
  • On the Horizon & Standards

What is Multi-Cloud?

Multi-cloud is a term that has been used for years in discussion of cloud services, but – much like the cloud itself – the concept has been a little vague. How does the notion of multiple clouds work within the context of public, private, and hybrid cloud categories, for instance?

According to most experts, multi-cloud involves blending together numerous cloud-based systems from various vendors to diversify a company’s infrastructure or services. The idea is to reduce the threat of proprietary lock-in and allow the business greater agility, while taking advantage of the benefits and physical locations offered by different providers.

Specifically, a “multi-cloud strategy is the concomitant use of two or more cloud services to minimize the risk of widespread data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in a cloud computing environment,” according to TechTarget.

Popularity of this Approach

A November 2014 poll of nearly 700 IT executives, conducted by Dimensional Research, revealed that three-quarters of companies (77%) were in the planning stages of a multi-cloud strategy. That statistic is a little shocking since cloud itself didn’t become a common business approach until the last few years. It also suggests that multi-cloud is a tactic that is accepted across a broad spectrum of verticals.

There are actually advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

Arguments for Multi-Cloud

People who adopt multi-cloud do so for the following reasons:

  • Bolster their geo-presence and disaster recovery position
  • Enable them access to specific features of various vendors as desired
  • Give them the public cloud advantages of affordability and incredible scalability
  • Provide the option of private cloud for systems that have especially sensitive data, compliance concerns, or are built more traditionally.

Basically, the notion of diversification to mitigate risk, as seen with the common stock-market strategy, is used in cloud with multi-cloud. Using various different infrastructures, this argument goes, makes you generally more reliable, and you are able to get the budgetary benefits of cloud while not suffering from lock-in with a specific cloud solution provider (CSP).

Multi-cloud disaster recovery is an effort to optimize resilience. If one cloud goes down, the other remains up, and business continuity is maintained. Multi-cloud additionally gives companies access to data centers in different locations around the country and worldwide. Sending traffic to data centers based on their proximity to clients is helpful so that you can keep latency low.

The Downsides

One obvious issue when you go with a number of different providers rather than just one is that isn’t as easy to manage, explains Tony Connor in Cloud Tech. “[While] this is not necessarily an immediate problem, if not monitored and controlled properly, operational issues start stacking up at a rapid speed,” he says, “leading to difficulty maintaining access control, bug patches and security updates.”

Plus, the lack of standardization from one cloud to another can make it challenging to figure out how costs compare from one company’s plan to another’s.

Related: Another basic problem with multi-cloud is that you are trying to improve your reliability; but you want to make sure that any cloud you use meets strict requirements in the way that it’s engineered. At Superb Internet, for instance, our cloud features distributed rather than centralized storage so that even multiple node failures don’t impact performance, and InfiniBand rather than 10 Gigabit Ethernet for always-zero packet loss and practically no jitter. See our plans.

Management of Multi-Cloud

It can be tricky to manage multi-cloud without a strong internal IT staff. It can also take the focus of your IT personnel away from working on new features and providing tech support.

For these reasons, some companies partner with third-parties that help with management of multi-cloud. Using these services allows them to make sure everything is running smoothly in one central location.

Multi-cloud environments can be managed by hosting companies, for instance, which means that there is 24/7 support in case any issues arise.

On the Horizon & Standards

Despite the importance of carefully vetting all the clouds you use to make sure you aren’t wasting your money with some, the fact is that this approach is increasingly popular. Remember the above mention that 77% of IT decision-markers said in 2014 that they planned to set up multi-cloud at their business. In 2015, another poll by the IT market analysis firm IDC revealed that 86% of enterprises were headed toward implementing it by 2017.

The desire for diversity is understandable. However, properly integrating various cloud services can be challenging. Furthermore, you don’t want the quality of your solutions to suffer in the effort to have numerous systems in play. Make sure that whatever clouds you choose adhere to strong standards, such as SSAE 16 SOC-1 Type II, ISO 9001:2008, and ISO 27001:2013.