Business Transformation

A Firsthand Look at Managing Enterprise Multi-Cloud Complexity

In May of 2020, McKinsey and Company released an article touting the pandemic as a transformation accelerator, “thrusting companies five years into the digital future in a matter of eight weeks” never to return to the status quo1. Now, as the reality of hybrid work adoption and user demands continue to push digital-first strategies to the brink, capabilities, offerings, infrastructures and security are defining the future. Unfortunately, there is no one digital strategy, no starting line for all, and no instruction booklet to follow. Instead, most CIOs have one thing in common—no matter the reason behind the move—they’re betting the future on multi-cloud.

To discover motivators and challenges for multi-cloud adoption, we partnered with IDC to conduct in-depth interviews with five enterprises to discover why they adopted multi-cloud environments and their experiences along the way. Here’s an overview of what we found out.

The Route to Multi-Cloud is a Unique Experience

Enterprises are adding secondary cloud footprints for various reasons—some intentional, some not. Research findings reveal that cloud acquisition can be driven by vendor preferences and relationships rather than merit, and some companies, especially those with global entities, may have no choice but to use a regional cloud provider. In the SaaS world, multi-cloud plays a more significant role in directly impacting revenue opportunities. For example, a SaaS provider reported that some customers compete with a particular cloud provider and may refuse to conduct business across that cloud. Regardless of how they migrate, there’s common agreement that multi-cloud challenges exist.

Multi-Cloud User Insights

In interviewing these enterprises, some common themes appeared, giving way to an opportunity for organizations to learn from other enterprise cloud migration journeys. Here is a sampling of five of the many considerations uncovered in the report:

  • Management capabilities across multiple clouds continue to challenge most organizations, and while a unified cross-cloud platform is the ideal, customers find these platforms are still maturing, making it difficult to displace existing tools.
  • On-prem data centers are alive and well and customers continue to innovate on-prem infrastructure through investments in private cloud automation and self-service.
  • Customers reported that migrating some legacy virtual machines (VMs) to native cloud was nearly impossible, requiring huge amounts of rearchitecting that would consume impractical amounts of time and money.
  • Containers have a very different deployment profile than VMs, and customers had varying footprint patterns. But the overall thrust of new development was executed on cloud native containers.
  • Containers are viewed as more portable than VMs, and container migrations are mostly one-way events (toward cloud) and require significant planning. Some customers interviewed tried but could not execute quickly or migrate containers between clouds on a whim.

To learn additional considerations for multi-cloud adoption and how various enterprises approached it differently, download the full IDC paper.


1. McKinsey and Company. “The COVID-19 recovery will be digital: A plan for the first 90-days.” May 2020.

2. IDC. “Future of Enterprise Resiliency and Spending Survey — Wave 2.” August 2022