Understanding Multi-Cloud

By Mike Spires, Mike Fuller, and Jay Ruffin
August 16, 2022
Season 3, Episode 29

Principal and Technology Transformation Practice Leader Mike Spires talks with Principal and Technology Transformation Cloud Leader Mike Fuller and Senior Director and Digital Transformation Strategist Jay Ruffin about the rationales, benefits, and best practices for multi-cloud environments.


Show Notes

Welcome to The Hackett Group’s “Business Excelleration Podcast,” where week after week we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. Today’s episode is hosted by Mike Spires, who leads the Technology Transformation practice at The Hackett Group. He serves as the emcee for a conversation on what multi-cloud is, some of its advantages and lessons learned from implementing multi-cloud environments. Mike’s guests for the discussion are Mike Fuller and Jay Ruffin, who are, respectively, the cloud lead and cloud partnership lead in The Hackett Group’s Technology Transformation practice.

Turning first to what multi-cloud is and why it is often confused with the hybrid cloud, Mike Fuller explains that the hybrid cloud involves a company using both on-premise data centers and cloud providers. Multi-cloud, on the other hand, involves using multiple cloud providers. The benefits of employing multi-cloud strategies are often simply the ability to best fit a company’s aims. Sometimes a company may choose a multi-cloud approach in order to put applications and workloads closer to customers. Multi-cloud strategies can help with pricing and workload management, and in the case of global companies, enable compliance with data storage regulation.

Multi-cloud strategies also impact areas of performance such as latency and agility. They bolster latency by meeting customer preferences and ultimately enabling customer-centricity. They foster agility by placing workloads in environments built around product capabilities. Multi-cloud also helps address the problem of unplanned outages. From a return on investment (ROI) perspective, The Hackett Group studies on cloud performance demonstrate that not only is ROI improved 8%-9% by using multi-cloud, but accuracy of forecasting is improved by 8%-12%. Multi-cloud enables companies to deliver benefits more quickly, and it is safer from a security standpoint than hosted on-premise environments. It also enables improvement in reducing the number of security incidents and mean time to detect them over single-cloud environments.

Of course, when putting a multi-cloud strategy in place, a company must determine what workloads work best in what cloud environments. Different workloads work best with different cloud providers, and in making proper matches, companies must consider things like speed of innovation, staff levels, security levels, and proximity to the customer. In the instance of mobility apps, it’s helpful for performance and scale to work with providers in different geographic locations. Ultimately, the ideal cloud environment match is a fit-for-purpose solution strategically geared toward the application and/or data of the workload being matched.

Moving forward, the group considers what industries are adapting better and more quickly to cloud use cases, and which industries are lagging behind. Telecommunications, software, and financial services companies are probably the most experienced in leveraging and having success with the cloud, whereas some in the public sector and in consumer goods are less experienced. The industries generally lagging behind in cloud use are those with less experience in digital transformation. It takes three to four years to really get a handle on cloud use, and cloud is a sort of underbelly for digital transformation. In light of these realities, industries lagging behind should have strong motivation to invest more and more into their digital transformation journeys. As they do so, they have the benefit of learning from the lessons cloud adoption forerunners have already learned from experience.

Jay points out four specific lessons on managing the cloud, which include the need for governance, getting a handle on resources and staffing, financial transparency, and effective vendor management. As the episode wraps up, Mike Fuller comments on the challenge of migration to the cloud, and advises developers to rethink the traditional “lift and shift” model by putting in more upfront work to gear migration to the specific workload(s) being moved. Usually, this more careful effort will result in a multi-cloud approach and help to position companies well in a digital climate of remarkable change.


  • 00:53 – Welcome to this episode on multi-cloud hosted by Mike Spires.
  • 01:23 – What is multi-cloud, and why is it confused with hybrid cloud?
  • 03:20 – The conversation shifts to advantages of employing a multi-cloud strategy.
  • 05:18 – Other than latency, what aspects of performance are shaped by multi-cloud?
  • 07:35 – From an ROI perspective, a multi-cloud strategy yields improvement.
  • 09:02 – The cloud is safer from a security standpoint.
  • 10:27 – Matching workloads with specific cloud environments.
  • 13:00 – What industries are adapting better, and which ones are lagging?
  • 16:50 – Next, the group considers lessons learned from multi-cloud use.
  • 20:03 – Thoughts on how to handle cloud migration.
  • 22:36 – Final thanks and concluding thoughts.