You may have seen the recent news that the Pentagon has decided to implement a multicloud strategy to replace the previous JEDI program. Essentially, Pentagon officials decided against a Microsoft-only cloud strategy and moved to a multi-vendor plan, which will now include Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, IBM, Oracle, and others.

This decision is a great victory for the cloud and competitive cloud offerings in the government arena, but is it a good strategy for the U.S. military itself? Will it be better off with a multiple cloud strategy instead of a dedicated, single cloud strategy?

If non-governmental cloud usage is any indication, the answer is yes. Many companies have quite successfully adopted a multicloud strategy.

And as cloud providers continue to grow the breadth and depth of their offerings, as is evidenced by AWS’s massive catalog of over 200 cloud services, polycloud will form an even more significant role in company multicloud strategies.

So, what is polycloud?

Polycloud is a relatively new term for a type of cloud computing that’s been around for as long as there has been the cloud. However, it has recently become important to corporations looking for a deeper set of capabilities to use within their cloud providers.

There are two main ways that companies make use of multiple clouds:

  1. Use multiple cloud vendors to improve redundancy, reliability and decrease vendor lock-in.
  2. Use different cloud vendors for their unique and specific capabilities.

In the latter, companies will use one cloud provider for some cloud capabilities and another cloud provider for other cloud capabilities. They use the specific provider that gives them the best solution to solve the unique challenges of their problem.

In other words, rather than using multiple clouds as a backup, companies use multiple clouds as a way to optimize the use of specialized services in each cloud provider.

This is what we are talking about when we use the term “polycloud.”

As AWS has continued to expand its service offerings, and other cloud vendors have managed to make headway in competing against AWS’s offerings, there has been a renewed interest and push in using polycloud architectures for cloud application designs.

If you would like to read more about polycloud, I’ve written an ebook report on the topic, What Is Polycloud?, published by O’Reilly Media. This report will give you a detailed understanding of how you can use polycloud effectively in your organization. The report is available free for all O’Reilly Safari members, or you can get a free preview of it here.

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