How multi-cloud solutions enable more flexibility in the enterprise

By Danny Palmer
10 Mar 2014 View Comments
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Once approached with caution, cloud computing is being embraced by more organisations, both in the public and private sectors. Many organisations looking to adopt cloud for the first time are tempted to put all their eggs in one basket with one provider. However, according to recent research by Adapt, many firms feel they can't get all they want from a single vendor, leading some to adopt solutions from multiple providers, as Kevin Linsell, head of service development at Adapt, explained.

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"Those that have only just embraced the cloud and are still in their first iteration are learning lessons. They're realising they want more diversity rather than just one solution," he told Computing.

It's a view shared by David Goodman, CIO at global humanitarian NGO the International Rescue Committee (IRC). He said the specialist needs of his organisation, which provides relief in some of harshest environments on the planet, meant an all-inclusive cloud solution from a single provider wasn't suitable.

"Most vendors don't really satisfy our needs - and I'd argue they shouldn't because our needs are so unusual and the market is so small it'd be irresponsible of them. So we had to think outside of the box and come up with things of our own," he explained.

IRC therefore uses both SharePoint and Box solutions as part of its IT infrastructure, which has to be reliable enough for use in humanitarian relief zones where bandwidth might be limited.

"When you pull apart what an intranet is, it's a document and content management system [CMS]. So we thought maybe we could find a way to get two best-of-breed products and put them together," explained Goodman, who said Box was adopted following a recommendation by one of his team.

"We played around with it for a while and we'd been using Django Python as a platform for some things and it has a nice CMS. So we took a Django CMS and married it to Box."

Shortly after the multi-cloud solution was deployed it was needed by humanitarian relief staff in the Philippines to manage documents and content.

"The main benefit is that it gives us a set of collaboration tools we didn't have before," said Goodman. "Big enterprise systems often don't work in our context so my whole approach to API architecture is to work with the likes Box, Django and others as long as they have good APIs so I can tie them together."

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